Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (audiobook)

genre: historical fantasy

The Golem is new.  New as in, she was just molded out of clay into the obedient servant she is, subject to her husband, her master. While Jewish tales of the Golem have been told for centuries, this golem is a real woman living in New York City at a time when immigrants from everywhere are flocking to those golden shores. She is naive and untethered in a world full of new experiences.

Another recent arrival in New York City: the Jinni.  The Jinni is NOT new. He has lived for ages and has just been released from an old copper flask into a new land and a new time.  With considerable skills and very little patience, the Jinni would like nothing more than break the band that ties him to an unknown master.

How these two find each other, and how their stories intertwine, is at the heart of this well-researched historical novel.  Their contrasting personalities, their ethnic identities and the way they interact with the human world around them all paint a vivid picture of not only a vibrant city in a time long gone but also two cultures with distinct folklore that somehow seamlessly forges together into one unique and thoughtful story.  The evil tide that these two creatures are fighting against is ancient and powerful - making the power of choice and free will the most beautiful gift one can have.

By the end, I really liked it.  I knew that if the author could tie all her ends together in an intriguing way, that I would be satisfied, and I really was.  The climax was very well done and I love a story with so many different characters and storylines that end up meshing well.  However, truth be told, it was slow going for me.  Granted, it is a NINETEEN HOUR audio book but it took me three and half months, which is a record.   I felt like it was just a slow moving story, which was fine, it just meant I wasn't always dying to pick it up.  All those different threads took a long time to build up and it took time to get invested in the characters.  The writing is strong and lyrical.  The sense of place is powerful.  I loved the Jewish mysticism piece of it as well as the connections to the desert and Arabic traditions.  I never wanted to give up on it - and I'm glad I didn't.

1 comment:

Deb said...

I read about this a few months ago and wondered if it was good. Now I know. :)

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