This is one of the most engaging novels I have read in al long time. It's a fascinating, inventive, fresh story that never lost my interest and attention. The quality of the writing is top notch. Ms. Wecker is a true artist with words.
When all the principal characters and their story lines start to come together, it is just magical. What else could a story about a golem and a jinni be?
I love George Guidall's performances and have often selected audiobooks based soley on the fact that he is performing them. And "performing" is the right term. He is a master at giving individual characters their unique soul and voice. Interestingly enough, while the description of the story was intriguing, it was that fact that Mr. Guidall was performing it that caused me to commit to this book.
A world of magic right under our noses . .
Can't wait to see what the talented Ms. Wecker gives us next!
Business, Web and Operational Strategist, Tech Leader, Entrepreneur and Product Manager
His style and presence is nothing short of amazing. One of the most enjoyable voices I've heard for a book on tape.
The narrator really brought the characters to life. His accents were great, and this helped to provide you with an immersion experience. This is an atmospheric, period piece so this was important.
I found it similar to the book Chocolat, which also involved fantasitical, magical and mystical happenings.
This is the first time I've listened to this narrator, but it definitely won't be my last time. He is very, very good, and his character accents are spot on.
The Jinni would be an interesting dinner companion. Although he seems self-centered and gruff, I believe the culture of the Jin made him the way he is. He proved himself to be selfless and caring at the end of the book, and exhibited many redeeming qualities.
I got a bit confused about 3/4 of the way through though, where the story lines of several of the characters past and current converged. The pace of the story seemed kind of rushed at this point too, which made it difficult to follow. At this point this action picked up dramatically, and I was having trouble remembering who people were, their relationships, and how their past histories came to play in current events.
Overall, I found it to very entertaining story.
I LOVE this book. I found it mesmerizing, like I was transported into another time and place every time I got in my car to listen. The narration was outstanding and I plan to listen to more books narrated by George Guidall. I am eagerly anticipating Helene Wrecker's next book. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed listening to a book this much. I'm sorry it had to end.
I live in Beijing and am thoroughly addicted to Audio Books.
The characters seemed to spring to life from the pages. One thing I really loved about the book was its grounding in Historical fiction--with a bit of a twist. It's almost reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I loved this book, it had everything: brilliant setting, unpredictable plot, and very real characters.
When the Jinni regains his memories; when Sala sees the Jinni's figurines, When the Golem first reaches New York in such a confusing whirl.
Nice surprise. Great story, character, and a little bit of a romance. Nice touch of fantasy to sweeten the deal. Lots of fun and a bit of history. Loved it
I expected a romance, an interesting romance full of myth and maybe light and fluffy. This was not that. It is not a romance novel, but it is a character driven story with love at its core. Not physical love, but emotional connection and companionship. The romance is complicated, understated and deeply fulfilling. The story depicts two very different cultural neighborhoods in the heart of New York at the turn of the 20th century. The descriptions are interesting, telling, and evocative. They story is gripping.The characters feel true. The voices and accents are well done. Listen to this book.
When reviewing books I try to be fair; I appreciate that not everyone will be looking for the same things in a book.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker is the story of, well, a golem and a jinni who find themselves in turn of the century New York. Recently awoken/liberated respectively they must find their feet in and adapt to the New World while avoiding threats which could destroy them.
First of all, I would like to say just how much I loved this story. I loved the characters, the narrative, the setting. What I found rather interesting was the fact that, had the golem and the jinni been just ordinary immigrants instead of supernatural creatures, 80% of the story could have remained unchanged. It is much more a story of new immigrants to the States adapting to their new lives and country and friendships formed than a fantastical tale of the supernatural. That is not to say that the element of the fantastical did not add an extra layer of depth to the tale, but it is well grounded in reality.
What I liked
The characters. All the characters were beautifully written, from our two protagonists down to “Ice Cream Salah.” Due to circumstances beyond their control, the golem and the jinni find themselves alone in turn of the century New York and have to fit in with the local community to survive. Their personalities match what you might expect from immigrants from Poland and Syria. Our golem is obedient, modest, faithful and curious. This is presumably what is considered culturally normal for a young Polish woman of the time, based on the desires of her first master.
The jinn on the other hand comes across as a rather chauvinistic, arrogant man who is used to a far higher status that that which he finds as a lowly Syrian immigrant in New York.
This characterisation colours their actions and their thoughts, which is why the novel could easily work as the tale of two immigrants. They even have the golem go through Ellis Island to cement further the immigrant theme.
I also enjoyed the developing relationship between the golem and jinni and the way that all the characters are interconnected.
The narrative. The narrative is rather slow paced, concentrating on character and setting development. Although this is primarily an immigrant story, that’s not to say I didn’t really enjoy the fantasy element. Even Sophia’s arc, while it contains an element of the supernatural, can be likened a similar, more realistic situation, and her reactions are very believable.
The setting. Wecker describes turn of the century New York and the various subcultures (Syrian, Yiddish) living there wonderfully. I felt as if I were walking the streets with the golem and the jinni.
The foreshadowing. This is most notable in the case of the golem. Right from the beginning of the book the reader is made aware of the threats of and to our golem. The fact that the instrument of the golem’s destruction is out there in the world adds a nice layer of narrative tension to the novel. The idea of the golem herself’s being dangerous is nicely handled. When it is first brought up, it creates a very interesting dichotomy. From what we know of the golem at that time, she seems the very opposite of dangerous. She is shy, obedient and desperate to please – the very essence of non-threatening. It does lead the reader to question why her creator believes her to be so dangerous.
The narration. The narration is handled by George Guidall and it was very enjoyable. His slow, easy way of talking made me feel as if he were reading me a bedtime story.
What I didn’t like
There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about The Golem and the Jinni. It’s definitely worth picking up.
I gave The Golem and the Jinni five stars out of five
I really liked this book. I don't typically read fantasy so I was a little hesitant about this book but I really liked it. The characters were well developed and I wanted to hear their stories. I liked the way all the characters were intertwined. It was very well written.
When the Jinni went back home.
The scenes where the Jinni and the Golem were discovering life in the city and seeing everything for the first time.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This book has been getting some buzz lately. While I'm not as gushy about it as the majority seem to be (for reasons I'll get to in a bit), it's a nice work of urban fantasy, with a creative premise and a level of writing that's a cut above the norm. The setting is a lyrical New York City circa 1900, with its patchwork communities of immigrants and workers, its seedy, dangerous neighborhoods, and its idle, wealthy aristocracy walled off in their palatial estates. Into this storied place come two creatures out of myth. One is a golem, a woman made from clay by an unsavory old man with knowledge of the occult arts, then given life-like features. She is brought into existence in Poland to serve as a wife for a sad sack of a man who is about to use the last of his squandered family fortune to emigrate to the US. However, he dies midway through the ocean voyage, leaving the golem to continue on her own, masterless, after the boat docks at Ellis Island.
The other lead character is the jinni, a being of fire who was captured by a Syrian wizard, fixed in human form, then imprisoned in a flask. Centuries later, a metalsmith living in a Syrian neighborhood of New York accidently releases him.
Wrecker does a lovely job with her creations' personalities. The golem, based on the robot-like creature of Jewish legend, has a stolid, practical temperament, and struggles to navigate the confusing human world without a master to give her direction. Instead, she finds herself animated by the needs of *everyone* around her -- though they pull in such conflicting directions, the net effect is a sort of free will. For her, being a capable worker, it's a world she can find a place in, but not one where she feels entirely happy or safe.
The Jinni on the other hand, is a tempestuous, restless being, capable of making a good living as a craftsman, but too independent to take direction well and easily frustrated by the rigid social rules of the human world. He takes to wandering the streets at night, making new acquaintances in both low and high places, and searching for secrets about his forgotten past. Naturally, these two protagonists encounter each other, and develop a friendship that starts in mutual curiosity, then continues through mutual exasperation, then deepens as they begin to expand each other's understanding of the world and their lives intertwine with the humans around them. It's a lovely odd-couple story, helped even more by audiobook narrator George Guidall’s capable reading of the two central personas.
The novel's strength lies in Wrecker’s unhurried, descriptive passages, which beautifully evoke turn-of-20th-century urban America, the noise of trains, the grit and grime of cobblestone streets, the daily hustles, worries, and woes of her characters, and the general press and jostle of humanity. The two inhuman protagonists both have their own perspectives on this world, on relationships, religion, morality, and two separate immigrant communities that exist streets away, but worlds apart. It’s fun to watch their views play off each other, never quite agreeing, but deepening one another.
However, I found other aspects of the book underwhelming. The side characters aren’t very interesting. After the midpoint of the story, the fantasy elements begin to dominate the plot and the drama becomes a little forced. The action in the final chapters unfolds in somewhat of a jumbled, rushed way. More attention from an editor would have helped.
For me, though, the strengths of this one outdo the weaknesses. If you like novels that mix history, magic realism, and escapism, check it out. 3.5 stars.