Babi Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale

Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Day Al-Mohamed
Young Adult

STEAMPUNK:  In a new twist on the classic tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, this version stars Ali bin-Massoud:  an ambitious young man who dreams only of becoming a master artificer. The second son in his family, he is allowed by his father to learn more than the family business. While his brother Kassim prospered by his father’s side, Ali had gone to England to study under Charles Babbage, learning all that he could in the art of design and engineering. The tragic death of his father brings trouble beyond imagination to Ali and all that he loves. Only he can discover the secrets that have haunted his family, and save them all. 


Magic is the primary tone of this tome, with a traditional taste of steampunk in clockwork figures and airships in the Victorian era. Ali is a standout character, and beautifully developed from start to finish. Unfortunately the attention to Ali leaves other details untold that would otherwise enlighten the reader. The length of the novel is extensive with intertwining plots that potentially could have been brought together more seamlessly. Babbage’s journey specifically could have used more detail. The Djinn are an interesting pair of characters that also could have used a bit more refinement and attention. Essentially the plot became predictable, though the story remained unique, reversing roles. "Babi Ali and the Clockwork Djinn" is definitely not a retelling, but a re-imagining of a cherished childhood tale. Illustrations and a more definitive break down of the sections of the adventure would make this a read to remember! 


Penelope Anne Bartotto