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Joe Golem and the Drowning City: An Illustrated Novel

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  703 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
In 1925, earthquakes and a rising sea level left Lower Manhattan submerged under more than thirty feet of water, so that its residents began to call it the Drowning City. Those unwilling to abandon their homes created a new life on streets turned to canals and in buildings whose first three stories were underwater. Fifty years have passed since then, and the Drowning City ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene WeckerJoe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike MignolaTales from an Israeli Storyteller by Uri KurlianchikThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonKissing the Golem by Danielle Summers
Best Golem Books
2nd out of 10 books — 10 voters
The Drowned Cities by Paolo BacigalupiThe Johnstown Girls by Kathleen GeorgeThe Town That Drowned by Riel NasonThe Lost Towns of Quabbin Valley by Elizabeth  PeirceFloodland by Marcus Sedgwick
Drowning Towns
6th out of 24 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,573)
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Joe Golem and the Drowning City is a lovely sort of homage to HP Lovecraft and the Jewish golem folklore tradition. One wonders how they can exist together harmoniously in the same work, but Mignola and Golden do exactly that.

New York City is a very different place from the one we know and love in this book. Some sort of ecological disaster turned half of the city into what is essentially a Venetian-like, water-logged environment. Downtown flooded, and those who lived there are cut off from the
Eric Guignard
Apr 16, 2012 Eric Guignard rated it it was amazing
REVIEWED: Joe Golem and the Drowning City: An Illustrated Novel
WRITTEN BY: Christopher Golden and illustrated by Mike Mignola
PUBLISHED: March, 2012

Great, fun book. A wild, imaginative adventure in an alternative sinking New York, amongst a cast of strange specters, magic rites, and steampunk. Imagine the grittiest visions of Batman's Gotham City being submerged and taken over by H.P. Lovecraft - that's a visual to the world that Christopher Golden has created. The book was rich in story that twi
Jessica at Book Sake
As this book was listed as an “illustrated novel”, I was expecting more illustrations. The fact that Mike Mignola (Hellboy) was the illustrator is what really drew me to this book. Unfortunately the illustrations were few and far between, the majority of them didn’t take up but 1/8 of the page, and they were all in black and white. I haven’t read a book by Christopher Golden before, but he is a good storyteller. The story flowed logically from beginning to end, never leaving you to wonder what h ...more
Oct 25, 2015 Yoel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fácil de leer y entretenido. Se nos presenta una "realidad alternativa" interesante, mezclando varios géneros de manera correcta en una historia ágil. El 75% de la novela esta narrado desde la perspectiva de Molly, una chica de 14 años, lo cual me ha parecido una lástima, ya que los otros personajes eran bastante más interesantes. El final de la historia es demasiado abierto.

Por otra parte, las ilustraciones en algunas ocasiones me han parecido de relleno, no aprovechan el atractivo universo en
Jul 01, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
I think I have ADD. Whenever I felt like I was getting into the story, my mind would veer off. I spent a lot of time trying to imagine the world the story takes place in, but I just couldn't do it. It's 1975, fifty years after lower Manhattan has been hit by earthquakes and flooding, but apparently people have stuck around. There is a mention of a plague, but nothing more as to say what it was or did. Maybe I missed it? So it's 1975, but you would never know it because I guess things were left p ...more
Brandon St Mark

I found this at my local comics shop today for like 25% off and I couldn't pass it up. I haven't been able to find it online for cheaper, and I figured I would just never get to read it, but now I can :DDD

Not sure when I'll get to this (maybe after my summer semester is over) because I don't want to travel around with this book and have it get damaged, but I will definitely read it before the end of the year.
Orrin Grey
May 03, 2012 Orrin Grey rated it really liked it
Shelves: mignola
I read this right after World Horror, but I have let myself get way behind on updating my Goodreads! I loved this (I mean, of course I did) but not quite as much as Baltimore. I think my favorite part was probably the Sherlock Holmes-alike detective.
Stewart Tame
Aug 19, 2015 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it
Lovely stuff! Mike Mignola has a knack for pulp-inspired dark fantasy with Lovecraftian and steampunk overtones. The Drowning City is New York, or at least Brooklyn. The city started sinking in the 30's, if I'm recalling the book correctly; not in the real world, obviously. This is alternate history. Molly is a young girl living in a half-sunken building, along with Felix, an elderly clairvoyant. Mysterious beings kidnap him and chase her through the city until she is rescued by Joe, who seems h ...more
Sep 29, 2012 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Mignola is obsessed with the transformative power of fate and destiny - so many of his stories are a race against time to stop the tearing of the time fabric or thwarting the tentacles in the sky. This one is basically that story retold. Also there is the indestructible monster hero of the title, the clockwork man full of delicate metal organs and steam blood, the evil sorcerer and his slimy gas-men henchmen. All familiar Mignola/Golden material.

What sets this apart, I think, is the utter useles
Dec 31, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of pulp adventures or Lovecraftian horrors
Shelves: fantasy, pulp
Got this for Xmas, on the recommendation of our local comic slinger. He knows about my weird obsession with previous Mignola-Golden team up Baltimore: or The Steadfast Tin Soldier & The Vampire and he told us that Joe Golem was better.

Let's get one thing out of the way first: it's not.

It's not bad! Don't think that. It's a fun, interesting story with a great pulpy sci-fi fantasy setting but I can't help feeling that the story would have been better served as a comic. Nothing about the prose
Aug 29, 2013 Jennavier rated it really liked it
This definitly was NOT what I was expecting. Maybe I'm really naive but when I thought of An Illustrated Novel I assumed a certain level of innocence. Maybe I should have read the back about how this came from the creator of Hellboy. AKA not innocent. The good news is that definitely didn't hurt the quality of the book. The story of the old magician being kidnapped is fun, and his apprentice Molly won my heart as she tries to rescue the man that was like her surrogate father. Joe Golem was fine, ...more
Pamela Huxtable
Nov 03, 2014 Pamela Huxtable rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, dystopian

Molly is an orphan who has managed to survive in the lawless, cutthroat Drowning City - lower Manhattan of an alternate reality. Note: after superstorm Sandy, this alternate reality seems almost prescient. Molly works for the magician Felix, who is mysteriously kidnapped. While trying to find and rescue Felix, Molly meets a detective, Mr. Church , and his partner Joe.

The plot is exciting, and action packed, and the characters, while stereotypes, are well done and not overly cliched. Joe is of c
Dec 30, 2012 Bondama rated it liked it
This is an extremely unusual novel, with one of the main characters a golem who comes to real life, and then is transferred back to his original golem state. A golem, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a "fact" from the Jewish Kabbalah, the mystical side of this religion, this way of life.

A golem is constructed of clay, by a rabbi. But he has no meaning other than a statue until the rabbi transcribes the name of God on the golem's forehead. He can now walk, move, and be used as as instrument
Britt Wisenbaker
Dec 01, 2012 Britt Wisenbaker rated it it was amazing

I love this book! It is like a whole alternate "Mignola-verse" to the one which has been unfolding for years in the Hellboy comics. For whatever reason, Baltimore (which I did like) did not feel as rich with esoteric detail as this book. A half drowned NYC? A partially mechanical detective of the supernatural who has lived well over a century? A man who is a reborn stone golem, who converts back to stone after his human form is killed? Strange men in gas masks who are not quite men nor quite an
Apr 03, 2012 Wil rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2012
This was a little gem of a book. It takes a little bit to get going, and I was wondering where it was all heading, but the ending is well worth waiting for. It's kind of a mix of Cthulhu and steampunk, with a little Sherlock Holmes thrown in. A lot of times a pastiche like this can come across as contrived, cheesy, or just plain boring. Or it starts off strong and fizzles out once the originality of the concept wears off. But I was pleasantly surprised. I guess it helped that I read the ending i ...more
Reiner Schwarz
Feb 20, 2016 Reiner Schwarz rated it it was ok
Relativ langweiliger Plot, der deutliche Längen aufweist. Schwache Charatere, die keine besondere Tiefe entfalten. Das betrifft insbesondere Joe (Golem), der sich als nicht besonders interessanter Hellboy-Abklatsch entpuppt und Felix, dessen übernatürliche Begabung sehr plump eingeführt wird. Natürlich soll dies Spoiler verhindern, aber etwas mehr als "er hatte sie halt schon immer und hat sich auch noch nie Gedanken darüber gemacht", wäre m. E. dennoch möglich gewesen. Auch die enge Beziehung u ...more
Douglas Lord
Dec 18, 2014 Douglas Lord rated it it was amazing
Mignola, the artist known for the “Hellboy” graphic novel series, and the prolific Golden, whose credits include the YA horror novel Strangewood, jointly crafted this enjoyable, steampunky YA title. Fair warning: this is no GN. Illustrations‚ akin E.H. Shepard’s decorative art gracing A.A. Milne’s Poohworks‚ suggest, rather than dictate, imagery. In an alternate near past in which earthquakes have somehow submerged lower Manhattan, we find the plucky 14-year-old Molly racing to locate and save h ...more
Jun 02, 2012 Joseph added it
Good read! If you've ever read Hellboy then you will recognize alot of elements in the story since it was wriiten by Mike Mignola. I like the concept of outer things not part of this reality, since I enjoy reading HP Lovecraft the story is very influenced by his writing. I enjoyed how the characters interacted with each other and shared histories are explained throughtout. It does have some sad parts and leaves upon a possible sequel. I'm looking forward to it if they do!
Dustin Blottenberger
I want to give this book 4 stars. I really do. The concept is so fascinating: New York city fell victim to terrible earthquakes in the 1920s, which resulted in the "drowning" of Lower Manhattan and some of the outlying boroughs, as the water level rose and reclaimed the lowest 30 feet of the city. Now, circa 1970s, Lower Manhattan exists half-underwater, and the poorer residents, scavengers, gang members, and steadfast hangers-on eke out an existence in the shadow of Upper Manhattan, where wealt ...more
May 27, 2015 HeavyReader rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is just the beginning.

Or at least it could be a beginning, as the end leaves everything open to a sequel (or a series).

You might think from the title that Joe Golem is the story's protagonist, but you would be wrong. The main character is a 14 year-old girl named Molly McHugh.

I bought this book at a Dollar Tree when I realized that Mike Mignola listed on the cover is the man behind Hellboy. I like Hellboy. Actually, I have a crush on Hellboy (and his girlfriend too).

Parts of this story
Nov 16, 2015 Kaylee rated it really liked it
I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book. I know that I liked it, and it met most of my criteria for a good book, but I feel just a little disappointed. This book is advertised as an illustrated novel, and it does contain some "illustrations," but they are rough, uneven, and frustratingly similar throughout the book. Several of the drawings are of pipes. Seriously. Just the pipes. In a scene where so much is happening and so many awesome characters are present, the picture is of the pipin ...more
May 22, 2015 Krisnow18 rated it liked it
I'm not sure why this is titled the way it is. Joe Golem is certainly a character but this focuses initially on other characters. In 1926 earthquakes hit NYC and Manhattan is flooded. (Think Waterworld)People have to learn to survive. Molly is 12 when she decides to leave her mother and take off on her own. She meets Felix Orlov who was once a famous stage magician. He is still a psychic and supports the 2 of them by doing readings. He is abducted by strange men wearing gas masks and Molly has t ...more
Hannah Kane
Apr 29, 2014 Hannah Kane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gns
I want -- no, okay, I NEED -- Guillermo del Toro to make this movie. Sure, Joe Golem is the title character, but scrappy, smart 14-year-old Molly McHugh is the star of this show. Her life consists of men trying to manipulate her, trying to get what they want (and Molly has no illusions about some of the more sinister things they desire of her), but she consistently thwarts their plans and comes out on top. Molly McHugh is my hero. Confronted with Lovecraftian (Mignolian?) horrors, disasters both ...more
Dec 27, 2012 Peter rated it really liked it

This book works best in the history of the characters and the atmosphere of the different scenes. It is kind of lacking and slow when you get to the big action. A great fun read all together, though.
Sep 05, 2015 Conor rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
A real nice read. I like Mignola's work in comic books, and I would read lots more of the mixed medium ones like this.

Minus a star (maybe) for being a bit thin.
May 06, 2014 Terry rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young adults to adults
Recommended to Terry by: serendipity
Excellent storyline, and fast pacing. I enjoyed every minute of this read. I like it so much this book is going to be one of my keepers. It goes on the shelf (somewhere) until I can read it again or pass it on to a good friend. The book itself is well-made, and the dust jacket is colorful and full of fine details.
As for the story, the characters in this dystopian post-apocalyptic world are nicely fleshed out. Haha. Really, I do like the characters and missed them when I finished. The book has a
Apr 18, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing
Easy read but totally enjoyable. Our library has it as an adult sci-fi but I would consider it more Teen fiction.
Desiree B
Aug 19, 2016 Desiree B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like steampunk, supernatural thrillers, and fans of the Hellboy series
I read this book in three days. THREE!

Short version: it’s an amazing read filled with occultists, steampunk machinery, otherworldly gods, and Mignola’s beautiful dark illustrations to boot. Read it!

The Story

The inhabitants of the “Drowning City,” formally Lower Manhattan before the sea flooded the streets in 1925, do whatever they can to survive the city’s watery slums. Molly McHugh (our heroine) use to be just like them. She lived a life of fear and poverty until Orlov the Conjurer, a powerful
Oct 21, 2014 Valissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
this was really great. I love Mignola's art, so this was a treat. What I found interesting was the serial feeling to the chapters. There was a little repetition that twinged my neck each time (and they are obvious lines that get repeated). Each chapter felt like a new issue of a comic book, which makes sense for the style of writing these gents do.

still, no complaints, the story is really fascinating (NY under water!), golems are one of my favorite tales, and the art is lovely. Can't wait to rea
Aug 26, 2011 Adriene marked it as to-read
So excited for this book.
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Mike Mignola was born September 16, 1960 in Berkeley, California and grew up in nearby Oakland. His fascination with ghosts and monsters began at an early age (he doesn't remember why) and reading Dracula at age 13 introduced him to Victorian literature and folklore from which he has never recovered.

In 1982, hoping to find a way to draw monsters for a living, he moved to New York City and began wo
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