Book Review 120: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

 

 

Some novels read fast. Non-stop page turning action that grabs your imagination and doesn’t let go until you finish. Other novels read slowly like eating a well-cooked meal at your favorite restaurant.  You take the time to eat your meal with a glass of the restaurant’s best wine.  Well, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker was like the aforementioned well-cooked meal.

The Golem and the Jinni has been on my radar to read and review for the past year and I’m glad I had finally carved out time for it.  It is the story of Chava, a Golem, brought to life by a mysterious man who is a practitioner in Kabbalistic magic and Ahmad, a Jinni, released accidentally from a flask owned by tinsmith in Lower Manhattan.

Chava and Ahmad are trying to fit in and survive in their immigrant neighborhoods of 1890’s New York City while masking their true identities. The Golem and Jinni meet up by a chance and begin an unlikely friendship that will put both their lives in danger. Along the way, the pair learn about human behavior and how being authentically yourself is challenging.

Wecker adroitly interweaves fantasy, history, religion, and the nature of free will into an enjoyable stew of fiction. The storytelling was excellent and allowed me to escape into the world of 1890’s New York City that felt real. The Golem and the Jinni will be one of my favorite reads of 2017. Highly recommended.

 

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