Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I love fantasy and have been waiting with great anticipation for The Golem and the Jinni. I was not disappointed by this enchanting debut novel by Helen Wecker, but it was not what I expected either. This story is much more an allegory blended with historical fiction than it is a classic fantasy with a magical system driving the plot. It is a difficult story to describe in a meaningful way because the novel has many layers. On the surface it can simply be read as an interesting tale about magical creatures, evil wizards, spells, and the pursuit of immortality. (Aside to parents - this is definitely NOT a children's story.) But, woven throughout the novel are several much deeper themes to ponder long after you finish the book. On one level, this is truly an immigrant story - people throughout time moving to new places out of wanderlust, to escape a threat, or in pursuit of a better life and the challenges of creating community, maintaining cultural identity, and overcoming language barriers and prejudice that come with that. Ultimately, both the Golem and the Jinni end up as accidental immigrants to the wonderful/frightening place that was New York City of 1899 and their adventures as strangers in a strange land provide a fascinating allegory for all immigrants. On another level, The Golem and the Jinni is a study of human nature - the moral and ethical dilemmas, romantic and platonic love, faith, altruism, free will and enslavement, and the meaning of life and death. Wecker's mythical creatures are forced to tackle these big questions of humanity without the benefit of parents, religious training, or schooling that give most of us some foundation and watching them wrestle with those issues is surprisingly entertaining and thought-provoking. I suspect this is a book that could give you a new perspective each time you read it.
Initially, I was so anxious to understand what the big conflict would be (anticipating some type of magical culture clash or something), I almost missed the beautiful view along the way. I started the book over when I finally realized that Wecker is laying down a very intricate pattern that you have to appreciate from start to finish - this is not a book you'd play on double speed or you would miss much of the nuance, some of the deeper questions, and some very nice prose. Wecker takes disparate stories, multiple characters, several historical time periods and weaves them together to create a rather mesmerizing flying carpet of a tale that is part fable, part romance, and part historical fiction. And, when you get right down to what every reader hopes for, The Golem and the Jinni delivers - it has a terrific ending! Helene Wecker is really talented and for a debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni is quite well written - characters are nicely fleshed out, settings are vivid, and there is a nice fluidity moving between settings and different periods of time. In addition, the audio version benefits from the narration of the always fine, George Guidall - his seasoned voice is a great fit for this story.
I have no hesitation in recommending the book. This isn't your average fantasy fare, but most fantasy readers will find a lot to love. In addition, because of the bigger themes, the amazing characters, and the vibrant historical setting most people who enjoy an entertaining and meaningful story independent of genre will like The Golem and the Jinni. I am really looking forward to more from Helene Wecker!
Between Two Fires is a well written 14th century period piece that expertly intermingles vivid scenes of plague ravaged France with Christian mythos to provide a fantastical horror story that reads like historical fiction. I am not a great horror fan so to say I "liked" this book wouldn't be quite right, but I was completely captivated by it. Christopher Buehlman is masterful in his writing - his characters are so genuine, the settings so sharply etched, the plot so intricate and imaginative that I was engrossed throughout the book. I felt a bit dazed at the end of the book coming back to the 21st century after this total immersion experience in 1348.
I have to thank Audible and Troy's review for giving me a nudge to look at this book. I'm don't normally read books in the horror genre, but I am a huge fan of good writing and this book ranks right up there with the best. And, it paints such a clear picture of this period of medieval history that it is likely to be appealing to those who like historical fiction as well as those who enjoy a good scary story.
It's not a book for everyone - the book covers a dark period of history when the Black Death rampaged through Europe and many of the characters are rough, vulgar people so it is not surprising that there are graphic scenes of violence and a fair amount of cursing and crude language in the book. I did not think the violence or bad language was gratuitous, but I know I like to know before hand when a book is one I want to listen to in private. (One oddity in regard to the vulgar language, Buehlman seems to have no difficult referring to various parts of female anatomy in very coarse terms, but male anatomy was demurely referred to as "the groin" and "his verge" which struck me as a little strange.)
Steve West does a terrific job with the narration. He pitches his voice just right to maintain the growing tension through the plot progression and does a good job with voices as well. One tiny criticism - scythe, a word used many times in the novel, does not have a K sound in it. Not a big deal, but I do think audio production people could do a better job picking up that sort of thing.
This is not a book for the faint of heart or those with delicate sensibilities, but it is a fascinating and well-written story.
Although I did not enjoy Moon over Soho quite as much as Midnight Riot, I did find it quite entertaining and worth a credit. It certainly makes me hope that Audible will keep bringing us the audio versions as the author continues to add to the adventures of Peter Grant.
After the tragic events at the end of Book 1, Lesley May is indisposed throughout Book 2 and I think that's part of the reason I did not like this book as much. Peter needs the considered advice and more careful approach of Lesley to offset his inclinations to dive into trouble; without her, he does simply dive into trouble and I found his lack of sense a little aggravating. There are some semi-explicit sex scenes in this book that were not in Book 1 that I didn't really like - mostly I just wasn't as taken with the romantic interest as Peter and the author clearly were. (Although, without giving away anything, I will say I LOVED the scene where girl meets mother!) All said, I just wasn't as taken with Peter or the plotlines of Moon Over Soho as with Midnight Riot. But the back story for what happened to Peter's father was pretty great, Holdbrook-Smith is still nice to listen to (and easier to follow now), the book was still entertaining, and the ending gave me high hopes to see more of Lesley again. So, overall, a credit well spent and I'm going for Book 3.
I like Fantasy & Science Fiction but not into Zombie. Due to Health issues, listen to Audiobooks/read ebooks where I can enlarge the print
An excellent start to a new series and a captivating & emotionally gripping story by Mercedes Lackey.
The narrator does an commendable job, each character seems to come alive as a separate entity. I don't think the sample is as good a choice as it could have been to show off the narrator.
The 500 Kingdoms are inhabited by a manner of good and evil magical beings, beasts and humans, from the Fae, Brownies and Unicorns to Giants, Dragons, and Evil Witches, Mages and Sorceresses and their minions
The 500 Kingdoms are imbued with magic and the powerful force of tradition which tries to bend its peoples Magical or otherwise to its will for good or bad.
Tradition intended Elena to be a Cinderella, except that her would be prince was only eleven when she turned twenty-one, so her evil stepmother abandons her and decides to try her fortune hunting in other lands.
Elena, penniless and alone decides to become a paid servant, but her Fairy Godmother decides to take her on as an apprentice.
The magical potential that has built up in her through the unfulfilled tradition gives her huge magical powers. Thus Elena's tale and trials begin, but at least now she has a home and people that care for her and last but not least a purpose . . .
Warning whilst most of this book is G rated in small sections mainly near the end of the book it ups the eroticism for a bit but its not over done in my opinion but it may upset some readers.
There is a nice tone of humor throughout and It has great multilayered characters that grow as the story progresses.
This is an Fantasy adventure story with a side of romance and Elena is a remarkably strong female lead that has a vulnerable human side.