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22 April 2024

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

This historical intrusion fantasy is about a golem without a master created in the form of a woman and a jinni imprisoned in human form both ending up in New York City in the early twentieth century. Their lives intersect and overlap as they each struggle with the freedom and confinement of their new ways of being. For a golem, this is more freedom than she could imagine—or know what to do with. But for a jinni, this is a life of horrifying captivity... even though he can do as much, if not more, than what any human can do.

Originally published: 2013
Acquired: December 2022
Read: November 2023

I enjoyed the book but did not love it, though I can see why many others may have loved it. Where it really work is in Wecker's depiction of the immigrant communities of gaslight-era New York, and in the two central characters. There are a lot of great observations, both large and small, of the people and their world. Good character moments, good complications, interesting interactions.

But I did find that at times the backstory of the jinni was delved into more than I was actually interested in, threatening to overwhelm the present-day material that had actually hooked me on the story. The core idea of the title sometimes felt a bit lost in at all.

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