Monday, June 24, 2013

GOLEM AND THE JINNI by Helene Wecker

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Two magical creatures roam turn-of-the-century New York City.  Chava is a golem.  She was commissioned by a man looking for a wife who took his request to an Old World rabbi dabbling in dark magic.  When her master dies on the ocean voyage to America, Chava is left on her own to navigate the strange new world.  Ahmad is a jinni.  He was captured many years ago in the Syrian desert and trapped in an old copper flask.  A metalworker in New York City accidentally releases him from his prison and takes him on as an apprentice.  The book moves back and forth between Chava's and Ahmad's stories until they meet by chance and form an unlikely friendship.

I really loved this book.  I thought the story was beautifully written. I loved reading about both characters and their lives.  I loved how each story thread came out of a different tradition, one Yiddish and one Middle Eastern.  Wecker did a marvelous job fleshing out the characters.  Both of them were so compelling and interesting. Both Chava and Ahmad are prisoners in their own way but they find freedom and comfort in each other's company. This is not just a story of two magical creatures and how they can to be, it is also the story of dark magic and its consequences.  There is even a bit of mystery to the book.  For such a chunkster, I read it surprisingly fast.  I had a hard time putting it down.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended.  A beautiful tale of the origins of two magical beings, their lives in New York City and how their friendship changed them both. 

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