Book Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Title: The Golem and the Jinni

Author: Helene Wecker

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Harper

Published: April 23, 2013

Page Amount: 486 pages

Blurb from Goodreads: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life 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 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 binds him to the physical world. 

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; 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 threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Why Read: Although this novel was also a Goodreads choice for December – the plot appealed to me. Who doesn’t want to read about mythical creatures forced to adapt  to our modern day New York City and caged by their powers rather freed?

Review: I was immediately drawn in by The Golem and the Jinni. There was no hesitation in my mind as I began to read that I would seriously enjoy the book. Helene Wecker’s writing style was fun and entrancing as we are immediately drawn in by the old desert and Jewish man banished to solitude to practice his dark Kabbalistic arts. Reminding me of other novels with mythical creatures such as the YA Percy Jackson series, the Golem and the Jinni is like that but for grownups.

I also found that instead of celebrating the amazingness of unique creatures, much of the book catered to the idea of hiding in plain sight.

Ahmad the Jinni in this case was, for me, much more of a relatable character than Chava. Chava, the golem, was concerned with protecting herself, having been newly awoken on a ship to the New World and must contend with surviving without a master.

Ahmand on the other hand has been alive for centuries but confined to a Jinni lamp – enslaved by an old wizard. He is much less careful about protecting his identity and fitted more with indignation than any other trait. Why should people have to hide their true selves if they were “more”? of course he hides… and does his best to make sure the greater New York does not know of his nature. But it is evident how much this displeases him throughout the book, a thoroughly human emotion.

Plotwise, I was a little disappointed by the ending. I expected something acidic and catching, perhaps even not a happy ever after. However, I was sadly disappointed. The argument between the old and young was for me essential to the story and there is no solution for that in real life- no way of brancing acceptance and fear. Making romance the connecting factor seemed for me to be a bit of a copout. So although I loved the book, I cannot in good conscience give it a 5, I would give it a 4.5, if that’s possible (But it is my blog so I can… and I will)

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review Coming Soon: Anthem

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