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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – Deckle Edge, December 31, 2013
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“Original and fresh…A fascinating blend of historical fiction and Jewish and Arab folklore” (Library Journal)
“Wecker deftly layers their story over those of the people they encounter...[A] spellbinding blend of fantasy and historical fiction.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The premise is so fresh...A mystical and highly original stroll through the sidewalks of New York.” (Booklist)
“Wecker begins with a juicy premise…and great adventures ensue…She writes skillfully, nicely evoking the layers of alienness that fall upon strangers in a strange land.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Magical thinking comes alive in an enchanting allegory of the immigrant experience as two mythical beings try to make sense of themselves and the world around them.” (Family Circle Magazine)
“THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI is recommended to adults who enjoy a good story and have a childlike sense of make-believe.” (New York Journal of Books)
“It sounds like the setup for a really strange joke: “A golem and a jinni walk into a bakery in early 19th-century New York....” But this debut novel—part fantastic tale, part historical fiction—is one of the most highly anticipated fiction releases of the spring.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“…the most exciting fantasy debut since Susanna Clarke’s JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORELL. Helene Wecker must be a born writer; there is no other way to account for the quality of her prose, as phenomenal as any of the supernatural wonders she delivers in the glorious THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI…” (BookPage)
“In the best instances, you don’t merely read a book—you dive in and happily immerse yourself, forgetting the troubles of daily life for a while. The Golem and the Jinni offers just such an absorbing experience. ” (USA Today)
“One of the joys of the novel is in watching two strangers develop a relationship that, while it’s rooted in their shared magical natures, echoes the way ordinary humans can form bonds starting with a random encounter on a busy street.” (Dallas Morning News)
From the Back Cover
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. 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.
Struggling to make their way in 1899 New York, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their immigrant neighbors while masking their true selves. Meeting by chance, they become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Marvelous and compulsively readable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.
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While this was not all I hoped it would be, I still enjoyed reading it. The author has a good fairy tale voice and I hope she practices and improves her writing and publishes more books.
The writing in this book reminds me a lot of The Bear and the Nightingale in that it felt very atmospheric as well as giving off a strong classic fairy tale vibe. This book has a very slow pace overall, most of the action happens in the last 15% of the book. The author gives of us a lot of backstory interwoven with the characters present day actions, and none of it is really tied together until the end. The ending was sort of fantastic, like the lynch pin that holds everything together. For these reasons, this book will take patience to read.
The characters take time to grow on you. Maryam Faddoul, Arbeely, and the Rabbi I liked right from the beginning, but the Golem and the Jinni you grow to love over the course of novel and again, it isn't until the end that you really feel anything for them.
My only real issue with this book, involves big spoilers so read ahead at your own risk: The deaths of Michael Levy and Dr. Saleh seemed to be glazed over. No real gravity was given to their deaths. They seemed so tragic in that they were completely innocent and Dr. Saleh's was completely heroic, but none of the characters in the book seem to acknowledge their deaths or their sacrifices and this kind of bothered me. I personally didn't feel much about them one way or the other, and I felt like I should have. I should have wanted to cry about it but I didn't, which is why I gave the book overall 4 stars and not 5.
Yes, it's got a slow pace, that worked out for me. As and adult, I can only read on my lunch breaks. If I came back to the book over the weekend, I'd have no problem jumping right back in. Perhaps if I tried to read it all in a day, I'd find myself a little annoyed. The pace picks up at the end though...I'd say around the time of the dance.
We get pretty in depth with all these characters early on, finding out their backstories and all, but Wecker's prose makes it a joy. And every character we get to know shines in the end. This is a cast of essentially good people. They believe in the goodness of humanity and want what's best for others. This is not at all a cynical book. It's about freedom, and people who are just a little odd finding ways to be themselves in society.
Ice Cream Saleh, Anna, Arbeely, they are all awesome to read about, but the titular Golem and the Jinni really so shine as characters. The Jinni's impulsive, passionate, is endlessly curious about humanity despite thinking himself as superior to it, values freedom and life. The Golem is a new soul, also curious but more cautious, so empathetic it hurts, and is naturally a protector. You want them to meet, and then you want them to be happy together. They are believable as friends or as lovers. They bicker a lot, but have a lot of respect for one another too.
This book makes me grin so wide even a month after finishing it.
As I was reading it, I even found myself deliberately slowing my reading pace down so that I could savor the novel, to better appreciate Ms. Wecker's artistry. I sincerely hope that she doesn't wait another 7 years to produce her second novel!
Most recent customer reviews
I like a lot of books, despise a few, and then...
once in a while I stumble upon something that I truly love, and this book falls into that category.