The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker - 486 pages
An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899.
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master-the husband who commissioned her-dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.
Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free-an unbreakable band of iron around his wrist binds him to the physical world.
Overwhelmed by the incessant longing and fears of the humans around her, the cautious and tentative Chava-imbued with extraordinary physical strength-fears losing control and inflicting harm. Baptized by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, the handsome and capricious Ahmad-an entity of inquisitive intelligence and carefree pleasure-chafes at monotony and human dullness. Like their immigrant neighbors, the Golem and the Jinni struggle to make their way in this strange new place while masking the supernatural origins that could destroy them.
Meeting by chance, Chava and Ahmad become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing nature-until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
My Review: 4 stars
This book engaged me from the start and although at some points throughout the middle I was hoping for story to quicken, there was never a doubt that this is written by a skilled storyteller. All the subplots, secondary characters and even locales all came to be important parts of the overall story and helped weave this tapestry of a book together. I love a book with a hint of paranormal and fantasy. Tales of golems and jinns are quite common in the middle east and I’ve read several; however this book brought them to NYC and I loved that. The power of free will is a paramount theme in this book and of course so is the ideology that opposites attract. Well written and crafted tale even though it was a tad too long for me. Highly recommend.
Quotes I liked:
- “If the act of love is so dangerous, why do people risk so much for it?”
- “But love founded only on love and desire will die out before long. A shared history, tradition and values will link two people more thoroughly than any physical act.”
- “Faith is believing in something even without proof, because you know it in your heart to be true.”
Tags: 2013, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, New York
Labels: 2013, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, New York, Paranormal