Release Day Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

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Title:  The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel
Author:  Helene Wecker
Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, eBook and AudioBook
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages:  496
ISBN:  978-0062110831
Source:   Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre:  Historical Fantasy Romance
Release date:  23 April, 2013
Purchase:  Amazon  § Barnes & Noble § Publisher
Stars: 5

About the Book:
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava 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, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

Book Review:

While I was initially drawn to this title simply by the title, this has become one of my favorite reads this year.  Combining the feel of a fairy tale with a romance and mixing in a serious underlying story that weaves in cultures, history, and folklore to create a tale of the immigrant experience that is unlike any I have ever read.

The Golem; Chava, is a figure born from clay and known in the lore of the Eastern European Jews.  Ahmad, the Jinni, is born of the fire in the Bedouin camps in the Syrian desert.  Together the essence of who they are is trapped in human forms, as they are navigating the immigrant neighborhoods and experiences of 1890’s New York.  These two very disparate characters manage to form a friendship and ultimately a bond that traverses their cultural differences and the pull of their destinies against their desires and free will.

Solidly researched and impeccably characterized, the story carefully and precisely wends its way through the immigrant neighborhoods as it carefully lays groundwork to bring all of the pieces together at the end.  Both Ahmad and Chava have knowledge and magic that can be used to alter and change perceptions or situations, should they, could they and will they utilize this for noble or selfish purpose.  All will be answered when your travel through the streets and neighborhoods of New York.

As a first novel, this could not have been better.  Never did the story suffer from an overload of information or descriptions, nor was the pacing impacted as the information was presented.  Every character is well defined and built and minute details are not missed, the neighborhoods and people fairly come to life in your imagination.  The book is enchanting and will please many readers from all walks of life.

I received an eBook copy from the publisher from Edelweiss for purpose of honest review.  I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

 

About the Author:

Helene Wecker received a B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota, and an M.F.A. from Columbia University in New York. A Chicago-area native who’s made her home in Minneapolis, Seattle, and New York, she now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter. The Golem and the Jinni is her first novel.

Find the author at   Website  §  @helenewecker

 

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