BOOK BLOG: The Golem & the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Up until reading THE GOLEM & THE JINNI, I'd been on a YA Contemporary kick. Looking back, I'm not 100% sure what made me download this historical fantasy set in 1899 New York City. Honestly, I didn't even read the jacket copy before diving into the 500 pager (which is far less intimating on a kindle). But man, am I glad I did. The book weaves Jewish and Arab folklore into a late 1800's New York City bursting with sights and smells and a vividness that so many books lack. The Jinni (think genie) and the Golem (think living mud girl) are wondrous characters, both personable, complex, and distinctly not human. The story is engaging and the supporting cast is huge and realistic. It was a pure act of magic that this book and I crossed paths.

From the author's website:
An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899. One is a golem, created out of clay to be her master’s wife—but he dies at sea, leaving her disoriented and overwhelmed as their ship arrives in New York Harbor. The other is a jinni, a being of fire, trapped for a thousand years in a copper flask before a tinsmith in Manhattan’s Little Syria releases him.

Each unknown to the other, the Golem and the Jinni explore the strange and altogether human city. Chava, as a kind old rabbi names her, is beset by the desires and wishes of others, which she can feel tugging at her. Ahmad, christened by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, is aggravated by human dullness. Both must work to create places for themselves in this new world, and develop tentative relationships with the people who surround them.

And then, one cold and windy night, their paths happen to meet.

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