This review is super late but finally here! Last week, I finished The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This book has been on my TBR for a good long while and everyone I knew loved it, so I figured it was time to give it a try.
First, while I am a fantasy lover, I tend to read more books with supernatural or magical elements, rather than creatures. So my knowledge of golems was limited to The Alchemyst, and I was more recently introduced to jinni/djinni's through An Ember in the Ashes and Rebel of the Sands. Basically, I had a loose concept that golems were clay people and jinnis were desert spirits with human forms and some powers, but that was really the extent of my background knowledge.
I was expecting to get a more in-depth journey into both golems and jinnis, but The Golem and the Jinni was so much more. The first third of the book was spent in separate POVs, introducing the characters and the settings.
The golem was a clay woman made to be a wife for a Jewish immigrant arriving in NYC, but she ends up alone in the Jewish neighborhood in the city trying to figure out herself and the people around her. Wecker did a really fantastic job of giving us the parameters by which she was created and then showing us how those factor into her personality and relationships.
The jinni was freed from a flask and trapped in human form, constantly looking for a way out. He romanticizes his life in the desert and lives with a metalsmith in Little Syria. He's been alive for hundreds of years and could theoretically live for another thousand years.
Once the golem and jinni are introduced, they find they have quite a lot in common. Neither are quite human but are trying to pass as human for the time being, neither quite understand some intricacies of human life and spirit, and neither sleep. They argue sometimes and laugh at other times and all together, they have a really special relationship.
The beauty of this book is in the seamless way the author wove this unique story of fantasy creatures in the backdrop of historical immigration-era New York. She was able to use stunningly beautiful writing to give us insight into two complicated characters while still keeping the story moving and showing a really rich cultural time period in a celebrated city.
I mean. Wow. The sum of this book is definitely more than the parts.
I can't recommend this book enough. The Golem and the Jinni is definitely one of my top reads of the year!
Up next, I'm starting Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Am I the last person on the planet to have read this one? Possibly!
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