Friday, September 25, 2015

"The Golem and the Jinni" by Helene Wecker

This book had me hooked from the beginning. Not only is it a historical, its main characters happen to be quite unusual in that they don't often grace the pages of historical fiction. Chava, a golem, was not made for the usual golem purposes of protection, but rather as a wife for a young man going abroad to seek his fortune. Ahmad, the jinni, arrives via an antique vase that someone asked to buff. Both end up in the city that never sleeps at the turn of the century, and eventually meet through happenstance.

My favorite aspect of this story is the atmospheric writing. It isn't often I sit down and read a book halfway through, especially when the book is roughly 500 pages, but with this one it was easy for me to sit back and forget I had been reading for a few hours straight. The day prior to me starting this, I feared I was in a reading slump, but as it turns out, I was simply trying to read the wrong books.

The Plot (As Seen on 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.'

I've never really aspired to see New York City, but I must say, after reading this book, I'm tempted to. Despite it being set in 1899, many of the landmarks mentioned in the book are still around today, and I couldn't help but feel transported, which many books fail to truly accomplish with me. In other words, the atmosphere in this book is spot on, and I loved that about it.

Although I was emotionally moved by the characters, you feel a bit cheated by the end of the book. It seems like you only truly know them by the end, and then it ends, despite this connection leaving you in want of more story. This phenomena happens a lot in books I rate Exceptional (4.5 Stars), and I think it's often what keeps me from giving the elusive 5 Star rating. I want a story where I get to know the characters, am enthralled with them, and can stand up and cheer when I read the final page of their story, knowing that I've had enough, or even more than enough. It's a lot to ask for and a high standard, but I'm not known to lower my own as a perfectionist, so why start now?

A favorite quote (that is slightly mocking of my above pontification):

She was coming to realize that some people, for whatever reason, would never be satisfied.

       ~The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, 30% Kindle version

The Golem and the Jinni is an exceptionally magical read that brought an end to my much-bemoaned-about reading drought. While reading this I completely ignored my usually unignorable dogs and cat, making them want to band together and destroy my Kindle. Luckily their plot never came to fruition. I recommend this to those who live for atmospheric reads, if you don't have attention-mongering companions who will plot to destroy this book due to its excellence.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for an exceptional story that transports you to another time and place!

Content: Ages 16+ for brief sexual material, violence, and magic.

Page Count: 486 pages


  1. I've heard so many good things about this one and really want to read it!

    By the way, I've nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

    Have a nice Sunday :-)

    1. PS: I've just ordered this book :-)

    2. Aw, thanks for nominating me! This really is an exceptional book, so I'm glad you ordered it- I haven't been swept away by a historical fiction like this since springtime. Hope you enjoy it!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Gitte!
      ~Litha Nelle


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