In this novella, well, there’s a tram car, and it’s haunted! Sort of. Agents Onsi and Hamed are called in to a mysterious case of a haunted tram. So far, so routine (for them, if not for the reader). Onsi and Hamed have to figure out what exactly is “haunting” the tram car, and how to get rid of it, against a backdrop of a steampunky aesthetic in an alternate reality Cairo. I’m not sure if I’m even mentally dating the setting right; these things run straight out of my head if it’s mentioned at all, and it’s made more difficult by the magic and supernatural beings that are served up against the backdrop of women getting the vote in Cairo. So very likely I am missing some clevernesses in the setting.
As a whole, this didn’t work as well for me as The Black God’s Drums, but it’s enjoyable and the setting is great. I feel like I’d have liked it more with a more substantial plot, or rather that there seemed to be more plot in there trying to get out, which went unresolved; it wrapped up rather suddenly, and I have such questions about stuff that was barely featured! What’s up with Abla? She seems so significant, and yet she just sort of conveniently keeps setting the male protagonists on the right path and then drawing back from the story. I didn’t fall for the male leads in the way I remember falling for just about everything in The Black God’s Drums, which is also part of it.
Very enjoyable, though — I’d love to read more in the same world.