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The Golem and the Jinni

(The Golem and the Jinni #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  115,274 ratings  ·  14,329 reviews
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic, created to be the wife of a man who 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
Hardcover, 486 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Harper
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Magaidhbhan The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern had a similar magical-realism feel and similar lush, evocative prose. Also, if you haven't read American Gods (Ne…moreThe Night Circus by Erin Morganstern had a similar magical-realism feel and similar lush, evocative prose. Also, if you haven't read American Gods (Neil Gaiman), I'd definitely recommend that too!(less)
Muthsarah I'm barely 100 pages into it, and I'm LOOOOOOOOOOVING it. It's detailed, nuanced, but it never reads NOT slowly. It doesn't get bogged down. There are…moreI'm barely 100 pages into it, and I'm LOOOOOOOOOOVING it. It's detailed, nuanced, but it never reads NOT slowly. It doesn't get bogged down. There are so many colorful characters, they're all instantly identifiable....

...actually, the book is such an easy read, it could almost count as YA....except that it's clearly much too well written. It's not pulpy. It's not pandering. It's just...easy to read.

Honestly, disclosure, I was a total mark for this book. Light fantasy. Victorian/Edwardian setting. I'm a steampunk fan, and of history in general. No steampunk here, really, but all the same, it has most of the ingredients to shoot straight to my heart. I chose the book based on a little bit of info alone (Nebula award, 1899, golem, jinni), and it's been just a perfect read from the first coupla pages. I'm already feeling a little scared about finishing this book. I'm not a fast reader (the mind wanders, but that's one reason I read, to get it wandering in new directions), but I'm already aware I'm going through the book faster than I want to. And as the book's almost 500 pages, that seems crazy.

Maybe it's the most fun book I've read in years. I think...maybe it is. It combines the casual, conversational narrative style of a fairy tale with character insights and atmospheric details usually gleaned from really dense, highly-researched alt-history fiction. But it reads like a simple novel.

I can still put it down (because I'm too busy not to), but I don't think I've enjoyed a book in years as much as I'm currently enjoying this one.(less)

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  115,274 ratings  ·  14,329 reviews

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Will Byrnes
I am trying something a little different here. I found The Golem and the Jinni to be a fun, magical fairy tale of a romance with a fair bit of excitement to it. But it is pretty clear that this is also a serious, literary work, raising meaningful philosophical questions, while using the folklore of two different cultures to inform the immigrant experience, offering a fascinating look at a place and time, and linking the experiences of the old and new worlds. These two takes seemed to call for di ...more
Emily May
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
All of us are lonely at some point or another, no matter how many people surround us. And then, we meet someone who seems to understand. She smiles, and for a moment the loneliness disappears.

Unsure what to think as I finally took the plunge into this 19th-Century New York tale of friendship, different cultures and, of course, magic, I found myself completely transported to another world.

I understand why readers often call The Golem and the Jinni "fantasy" - it certainly has the depth, epic
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: most-memorable
Just this once, I wish I could say 'The Golem and the Jinni is awesome. Trust me.' and just leave it at that. Not only because it is, but also because Helene Wecker's debut novel is a hard book to put into words, full of wonder and meaning, and an experience I don't think any review can fully do justice to. Still, even though I'll probably miss things, here goes...

Chava is a golem. Ahmad is a jinni. This is not a story of their chance encounter and subsequent whirlwind romance among century ago
Mark Lawrence
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very good book. It's a gentle book, concerned with people, spiced by having both of the main point of view characters being supernatural creatures, namely a newly created golem and an ancient jinni. Both of these arrive in turn of the 19th/20th century New York and have to find their feet in the appropriate diaspora (i.e. Jewish and Syrian). The two cultures, as realised within New York at a time when Lady Liberty's arms really were wide open to immigrants, are expertly and accurately ...more
Always Pouting
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Oh man, the book was a little long but it was so worth it. The pacing was excellent and I really enjoyed the unique story line and the way everything comes together in the end. There is nothing better to me than a well executed story line where everything seems to have a purpose and ties into the larger arc of what's happening. Also I really enjoyed the way that Chava and Ahmed's relationship is developed because it never felt like the rest of what was going on every becomes secondary to it whic ...more
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books of the year. I didn't know a ton about it going in, other than the gorgeous cover, and I'm very glad I didn't. It is a historical urban fantasy of sorts, about a Golem and a Djinn separately stranded in turn-of-the-century New York city. The two character's storylines intertwine beautifully, with themes of identity, religion and friendship weaving in and out of a wonderfully detailed world. If you liked The Night Circus, or Dr Strange and Mr. Norrell, you'll real ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sf, scribd
Sorry it took me so long to write a review for this one but the past weeks have been hectic and not so fun. I still have little time but if I don’t write a few words now, I’ll never do it.

I added The Golem and The Jinni to my TBR in March 2014, yes, more than 6 years ago. This year I am planning to tackle all books added in February and March 2014 and this is one of them. Until now, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the books that I’ve read from that selection and this one is no exception.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘all of us are lonely at some point or another, no matter how any people surround us. and then, we meet someone who seems to understand. she smiles, and for a moment the loneliness disappears.’

a woman made of clay and a man made of fire.
she is steadfast and constant, where he is capricious and free spirited.
and yet, they both find themselves thrown into a world not of their choosing, bound by plans greater than themselves.
if you ever needed proof that opposites attract - its this story.

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reread in April 2021 in preparation for The Hidden Palace - the ARC is sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me, yay!

Returning to this first book after six years, I’m even more impressed with it. Upping my rating to all 5 stars!

This thoughtful, original fantasy is about an unlikely friendship between a golem (an immensely strong animated being magically formed of clay) and a jinni (genie), set mostly in 1899 New York City. Chava, the golem woman, was secretly made by a rabbi using forbidden Kabb
Isa Lavinia

This is a truly difficult book to rate, mostly because what faults I can find, I find them in myself as a reader.

The premise of the story in perfect, Chava is a golem created to become the wife of a creepy little man who dies soon after he brings her to life. So now we have Chava, a masterless golem, a creature of clay, newly arrived in turn of the century New York.

Ahmad was trapped in a bottle for over a thousand years by a wizard, and imagine his surprise to find himself in an unheard of
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm really quite amazed at the things this novel does right. It's a detailed and grand scaled historical romance as well as being a delightful hop in magical realism, but I couldn't help make direct connections to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

But not because many of the ideas are the same. They aren't. What is the same is the length and the attention to historicism and the depth of the real history and especially the depth of the magic. The length of the novel and beautiful prose also has a lot
Heidi The Reader
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a golem and a jinni, how they discover who they are, their strengths, their weaknesses, and how, even though they're composed of completely different elements, they may just be the best friend for each other in a human world where they will never truly belong.

As I was reading The Golem and the Jinni, enjoying their adventures and waiting to see how they would discover their origins, I didn't consider for a moment the idea that the tale could be a metaphor for something else.
Faye, la Patata
How could I possibly review this in the most coherent way?

This book, a debut at that, is one of the best I've read this year. No, scratch that, it's THE best I've read in a long time, easily knocking over the ones I've gushed in the past few weeks to nothing. After turning the last page, I just knew it would be among my all-time favorites, together with A Monster Calls, Written in Red, and Blood Song. I've never felt this hypnotized, amazed, and captivated; the level of mesmerization is just so
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michael by: will byrnes
A wonderful tale I hated to put down, couldn’t wait to resume whenever I did, and felt sad when it was over. A great blend of fantasy and historical fiction that explores what it means to be human amid the multicultural blend of immigrants trying to achieve their dreams in New York City at the end of the 19th century.

We follow the lives of two mythic creatures trying to pass as human, living parallel lives and slowly drawn into a common path. Chava appears as a woman and was recently made as a
Huh. Well, this was deeply... okay. Wecker set up an interesting and fairly straightforward concept: Two supernatural beings in the turn of the century New York, trying to make their way in the New World, an exaggerated metaphor for the immigrant experience and the human condition. Fair enough. And there was some lovely atmospheric writing at the start that both helped to build the historical world and the supernatural feeling while she built her world and info-dumped all the information we need ...more
Simona B
"And if she was meant to be curious, did that mean she could take no credit for her own discoveries, her accomplishments? Had she nothing of her own, only what Joseph Schall decreed she should have?"

This is a book that works its magic in silence. You don't expect it to be what it is, to give you what it gives you. This is a subtle book; a book that sneaks up on you when you least expect it, and that, for all that it gives, expects something in return. The breath that more than once you couldn't
This was a story that I couldn't wait to get back to, especially when "life" called me away from it. I was riveted right from the start!

An intriguing story of a friendship, a love story, unlike any other, intertwining Jewish and Arabic folkloric beliefs. I loved how the stories of the Golem and the Jinni, two mystical creatures, were parallel in nature and how they interacted once they met. For a debut novel, I was impressed with the maturity level of the plot and character developments. I was
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Despite the obvious suggestion from the title and despite the supernatural nature of the main characters, for me this is not a novel about a golem and a jinni. It is the story of two ordinary people, immigrants like millions others coming to New York in the year 1899, there to learn how to deal with being uprooted from their birth lands, with being alone and lost in an alien culture, with how to slowly emerge from their hard protective shells and how to rely on each other. Maybe even to learn ho ...more
Bentley ★
See this review and more like it on!

“All of us are lonely at some point or another, no matter how any people surround us. And then, we meet someone who seems to understand. She smiles, and for a moment the loneliness disappears.”

This book has been one of those ones that hung out on my TBR list far longer than it should.

I would catch a glimpse of this book in bookstores and debate picking up a copy, only to pass over it when another book caught my eye. I
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Celeste by: Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Full review now posted!

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Wecker crafted one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time in The Golem and the Jinni, and I’m so glad that I finally took time to read it.

I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for four years. You read that right. Four. YEARS. I’m ashamed, I tell you. I bought it because it was cheap and the cover was pretty and I promptly returned to my regular reading. The premise sounded interesting, it really did, but it was just strange enough for
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this novel that blended historical fiction with some fantasy. It's the story of a young woman made of clay (the golem), and a male genie who had been trapped in a copper flask for centuries (the jinni).

But really, this is the story of immigrants in America. The book is set in New York in 1899, and we see how difficult it was to be a "stranger in a strange land." The golem came to life because a businessman wanted a wife he could control, and the jinni was accidentally released b
May 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd have given this four stars if I'd enjoyed this book more. Don't get me wrong, it's is very, very well and richly written. The pacing was just a bit slower than I was expecting (though necessarily so for the meandering story being woven together). I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending - somethings were tied up too neatly, other things left too open-ended for my tastes - but this was a failing on my part and not the book's.

EDIT: Actually, after a lot of thought, I'm bumping this down to a t
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell"
If you claim you like fantasy but you don't like this book, then what you like is silly wizards and hot werewolf-on-chick action, or else secondary world fantasy with elves and dragons and lost swords and shit, which is all well and good but I'm gonna be totally judgmental about any so-called fantasy fan who doesn't like this book because it's "too long" or too "slow-moving" or whatever stupid reason it failed to score with you. The Golem and the Jinni is a carefully constructed modern fable wri ...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video featuring this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Cataloged as historical fiction, this book divulges the story of several immigrants living in New York at the turn-of-the-century, but the author subtly weaves two unique immigrant characters into the narrative, a golem and a jinni, giving the book an element of fantasy. Maybe it was the jinni's mysterious origin story unfolding, or the golem's emotional plight, or perhaps it was just fun to look through a p
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

I first heard about this book recently when a friend read it and said he was very impressed with it - he said it was much better than what he was expecting. Then it kept popping up in a couple of groups I'm in, and between everyone seeming to be well impressed with it, and it seeming to be a sort of thing I would like, being a fan of historical fantasy in general, and various cultural mythos in particular, I figured I'd give it a go.

So I'm a bit sad to say that I wasn't really all that wowed
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A golem and a jinni walk into a NY City bar.
“I am a down to earth kind of girl,” says the golem.
“Nice,” says the jinni. “Can I offer you a light?”

When Wecker contrives to have a golem (a creature fashioned of clay) meet a jinni (a creature of fire) in New York City, it could have become a parody or resulted in a series of tropes. That isn’t the case.

Wecker carefully crafts her context for this encounter and gives us a “marvelous” series of insights into what might have happened in the Manhattan
Jo (The Book Geek)
This book was beautiful. It was written incredibly well, I loved the plot and the characters and it was really quite unique in comparison to other books I've read. There were a few things that irritated me, though, and I feel these things let the book down, and my final rating for it.

Firstly, the front cover. THE FRONT COVER! I just have so much love for a beautiful book cover, and this one is no exception. This one is that mesmerising, I'd purchase the book without reading the blurb. Madness y
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
There just are not enough stars - I just finished this fantastic book! The Golem and the Jinni was crafted like a fine weaving of well phrased words. I admit I do not know much about Jewish or Arab cultures, 1890 New York is also a new subject for me. I was enthralled by the magic that is so artfully presented in this lovely story! Even things that are frightening have such an empathetic edge, they are softened to be quite palatable. The research seems thorough, very believable, I learned about ...more
Feb 28, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: folk-tales
What attracted me to this story was the creativity of blending two mystical figures Golem with Jinni and what comes out of it.

The story begins very strong with introducing both mystical figures and how they arrived to be in NYC. But then I kept waiting and waiting for them to meet and for some poignant story to come out of this. But before they met, I lost interest in the story.

The book is almost 500 pages with a fine print, meaning with regular print it’d be probably 600 pages. I found it too
Elyse  Walters
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Passover stretched on, and Lower East Side turned into one giant craving: for a pastry, a bagel, anything really, as long as it wasn't matzo". SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE!!!!
Its Passover over week right 'now' ---(Jews all over the world are celebrating Freedom this week --(suffering? ---giving up their BREAD) ---- me! me! me!!!!!

Yet, a few things HAVE change: With many people on gluten-free diets today ---SOME Jews are passing on 'bagels' all year long! (we're use to suffering anyway...having rec
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Helene Wecker’s first novel, The Golem and the Jinni, was awarded the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the VCU Cabell Award for First Novel, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and was nominated for a Nebula Award and a World Fantasy Award. Its sequel, The Hidden Palace, was published in June 2021. A Midwest native, she holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writ ...more

Other books in the series

The Golem and the Jinni (2 books)
  • The Hidden Palace (The Golem and the Jinni, #2)

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Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
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“Sometimes men want what they don't have because they don't have it. Even if everyone offered to share, they would only want the share that wasn't theirs.” 156 likes
“All of us are lonely at some point or another, no matter how any people surround us. And then, we meet someone who seems to understand. She smiles, and for a moment the loneliness disappears.” 116 likes
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