I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a perfect escape from the drudgeries of daily life. I listened to it as I drove to and from work and found myself in New York along with the characters. I was riveted and found the narrator to be an excellent reader. The pace was perfect for the characters presented. If you like fantasy, fairy tales and mythology, get this book; you won't be disappointed. If, however, you are looking for adventure, danger and thrills a-plenty, look elsewhere. This book is a slow build-up to a fantastical time and place, with a miss-mash of folklore, fiction and fact. It was cleverly written and I look forward to more of the same from the author.
Custom jewelry designer who listens to books while she works.
There was a fairly well developed background of immigrant life in New York in 1900's, but it did not overshadow the story. It was interesting to see the unusual character's perspective on the "modern western lifestyle" etc.
Say something about yourself!
Verisimilitude. When writing a combination of historical fiction and fantasy, verisimilitude is the key, for both author and audience alike. In this debut novel by Helene Wecker, we are treated to the ethnic neighborhoods of 1899 New York City in a way that makes them feel as close and as familiar as our own homes. The streets are populated with a variety of characters who do so much more than play on the stereotypes. Each one stands on its own as a vibrant individual with a story to tell. And in the middle of all of it... a golem and a jinni, two creatures of myth and legend drawn from the respective folklores of the people who inhabit these neighborhoods, and both with their respective flaws and foibles as they try to get by in a world that would not accept nor understand them. It's a new twist on the classic "stranger in a strange land" tale.
I first heard about this book on the This Is Audible podcast. I was intrigued by what I heard in the interview, but I let it marinate for a bit before finally putting forth my credit. This is quite easily one of the best credits I've ever spent. The story is a slow build, but a no point does it hold back. Wecker is a masterful storyteller, and she knows how to make you want to come back to learn more about her creations. These characters live, as much as you or I or anyone else we might know. The subtle twists and turns are tied together about as perfectly as one could wish, and the end is - to my mind - quite satisfying to the story arcs presented. I'm looking forward to more works of this caliber from Helene Wecker. Her name will not be one I forget.
George Guidall's narration is wonderful. He adds that little something extra that brings these characters to life, making them that much more endearing... as though they needed any help on that front. His vocals as he changes characters are believable to the point where it's sometimes easy to forget he's only one man. This is the first narration of his I've heard, and it worked so very well for this story.
I really really loved this book, and I loved the narration of this book. There was really no point in the book where I knew what was going to happen, but that was okay because the author did not leave me sitting on pins and needles waiting for the end to occur. Each part of the book was a joy to listen to, whether or not the part was relevant to the ultimate conclusion. The details were so plainly and beautifully given, without being gratuitous or rambling.
I am so impressed with this author. Quite unbelievable that this was her first book. The overall tone and feel to her book reminded me of "The Book Thief" which was equally wonderful, and likewise was the author's first book.
It has been since "The Book Thief" that I listened to a story so poignantly written and so convincingly told.
Really fantastic! I cannot wait to her next book comes out.
This is by far the best book I've listened to all year, and I listen a lot. I recommend it with enthusiasm.
Even though the book's main characters are two supernatural creatures, the book is not "about" their supernatural powers and how they use them. Instead, it's about assimilating - how each of these creatures attempts to make a life in New York City in 1900 and tries to fit in as human.
The story is fascinating, alternating between the experiences of the golum and the jinni as they each try to come to terms with their environment, both alone and after they meet each other. They, and the people they meet, are given full back stories (well, except what the Jinni can't remember but eventually it is revealed), but it's never boring and the story never drags. The author builds suspense so gradually that you don't even realize it, but in the back of your mind you know "something" has to happen. As the gaps are filled in and the connections become tighter, you wonder how in the world could anyone think of this?
As the climax approaches and the story's elements weave together, it becomes apparent that the story is really about free will and destiny. The golum is certain that her true nature is to be bound, and so she tries to behave as a bound person would, within the context of her accidental and scary freedom. The jinni is certain that his nature is to be free, so he behaves in as free a manner as he can, in the context of his aggravating and unwanted bounds.
In the end, the golum comes to understand that to be free is wonderful, and that the self-imposed constraints to freedom are far better than to be bound by, and to, evil. The jinni comes to understand that freedom comes with responsibility, and to be bound to community and friendship is no hardship but actually an honor.
The narrator is excellent and brings the story to life. It was a joy from start to finish.
One of the top 10
I loved the mix of fictional characters, both indifferent cultures, coming together in a familiar place and time.
My favorite was the Jinni because he was so temperamental.
When a path that couldn't be followed got crossed and ended up destiny.
The story kept me interested from beginning to end. The mix of the two fictional characters and such different cultures in a familiar place and time made the story so full of turns. I did not guess the ending but I knew it was going to all come together. It was also performed very well by George Guidall and that was very important.
As unbelievable as the premise sounds, you will grow to love and understand these extraordinary characters. Chava is a golem, made of clay to be a biddable stepford wife and Ahmad is the Jinn, made of fire who values his freedom above all. Their lives intertwine in the melting pot of immigrant life in New York City at the beginning of the 20th century.
Their journey of self discovery, the description of immigrant life in New York, the mythical aspect of the Arabic and Jewish cultures, the believability and depth of the supporting characters, the taut build of the conflicts and the satisfying resolutions make this an outstanding book. One of the best I've read in years.
George Guidall's performance is outstanding. He never over emotes or over acts yet he manages to convey the emotional senses of every character.
I can't put my finger on why this book feels comforting but it created that feeling in me. Do not miss this book, it is wonderful. I will listen to it over and over again. It is going in my favorite books of all time. The narrator fit the story perfectly. The Golem and the Jinni has me searching through audible's list of books George Guidall has narrated and impatiently waiting for Helene Wecker to write another book.
My first line of this review states that I found the book comforting. I have to say I do not know why. This book deals with immigrants traveling and starting life in America. There is a lot of turmoil in the human characters as well as the Golem and the Jinni. There is something wonderful about the use of legend and mysticism in this book. The magic in the book is well researched and lends to these mystical beings being just as displaced as any other immigrant and finding their way to create a life in America. In some ways being mystical really is little different, every immigrant is in a strange land and clings to what community they have; searching for something or someone like them.
The twists and turns in this book are enjoyable. I loved learning the backstory of how the Golem was created and the history of the Jinni. You learn of this as it is relevant to the current/main story. I don't want to give anything away. Read this book or listen to this book. You won't regret it. I have to say I am sure I would have loved the book if I read it but Helene Wecker's writing and George Guidall's narration compliment one another so well that I am grateful I got it on Audible. I think George Guidall enhanced the experience.
This is a wonderful book. It's well written, well narrated and pulls you right in. This book is so thorough in all its descriptions that you feel like you are sucked back in time. You can easily imagine being in the dessert, Syria, a boat treaking to America and the little villages of New York. I was shocked how much I came to care for the golem. I wish this were a series, but I can't see anywhere that it's going to be.