The Golem and the Jinni

15819028by Helene Wecker
Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Debut novel: April 1, 2013
4 of 5 stars

This book has beautiful, slow prose that follows two unusual inhuman characters and analyzes the nature of being human. Wecker builds gradual connections between the characters through a series of chronological flashbacks as well as their current events. I love the in-depth look at the lives of a diverse cast of characters of different religious backgrounds all making their way in New York City. The mood matches the beautiful cover art perfectly. The beginning is a little slow to get through but once it becomes clear what the narrative structure is, it flies by.

This story stays with you as a journey through the ancient, unchanging desert and the grimy streets of 1899 New York, while managing to avoid cliched depictions of immigrants or the cultures we explore through the story. Fantasy Fiction (not YA) – reads more maturely for this reason. Just because this is your cup of tea doesn’t make it similar to either High Fantasy or YA Fantasy. The main themes here are your place in the world, what defines human nature (explored through the more rigid natures of the characters), not finding yourself, romantic relationships, or finding your destiny. However, it does explore the question “what is Fate?” and the idea of whether everyone is Fated or not.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Golem and the Jinni is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Arabian Nights – This has a similar style, prose, and subject matter.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – This explores the underside of London, its nooks and crannies, much like we see NYC with the Jinni, but with a touch of magic.
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – This features diverse protagonists and has a similar lyrical quality, but faster pacing. See my review here.
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George – If you enjoy gradual, detailed world-building, look no further, but you won’t find any magic here. See my review here.

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