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The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1)
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Archive: Other Books > The Golem and the Jinni / Helene Wecker - 3***

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6289 comments The Golem and the Jinni – Helene Wecker
3***

From the book jacket [This] novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. … Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert.

My reactions
Gosh, I really wanted to like this book. I looked forward to learning more about the myths of these two cultures – ancient Judaism and Syrian lore. But it never really captured my attention, and I found it tedious to read in places.

The novel moves back and forth in time and place. In one paragraph we are in 1899 New York City, in the next in ancient Syria when the Jinni has yet to be captured, or learning the history of Yehudah Schallman in Poland, or in Paris with Sophia and her mother. There are long interludes in the action, where the characters simply wander about New York. While these are greatly atmospheric, they did little (or nothing) to move the story forward, and I grew bored.

I also didn’t understand the relationships between these two fantastical creatures and the humans they encountered – particularly Anna, Michael and Sophia. It wasn’t the golem or jinni’s actions in relation to these people that puzzled me, but the humans’ behaviors.

In general, I like fantasy, and I love magical realism. When the book was first released, I immediately put it on my TBR. But I felt that Wecker failed to deliver. I was not swept away. Still, there are passages that were riveting and I never felt like I should just give up on the book. Final verdict: a decent but uneven debut, and I won’t be in any hurry to read the planned sequel.


Anita Pomerantz | 6674 comments Book Concierge wrote: "There are long interludes in the action, where the characters simply wander about New York. While these are greatly atmospheric, they did little (or nothing) to move the story forward, and I grew bored.
"


This pretty much echoed my criticism . . .and I agreed with your review completely even though I don't really like fantasy and hate magical realism. I attributed my feelings to that! Guess not . . .


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