The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – A Book Review

I discovered this book through a positive review within the pages of Entertainment Weekly, and, I must admit, the premise really captured my imagination.  I’ve long found golems and genies fascinating, and the idea of making each a main character in a book set against late nineteenth century New York City, well, that’s a concept I can certainly support.  I found myself truly excited to read this book.

Wecker did not disappoint.  Not only is her idea a good one, but she is also a fine writer.  In fact, while I detest the confines of “genre,” some may find her style far more literary than expected.  She really strives to write beautiful sentences.  Furthermore, the vastness of her fertile imagination continually impressed me throughout the novel.  She does not restrict herself to New York City alone, her story also visits locales hundreds, even thousands, of years into the past throughout Europe and the Middle East.  Moreover, while I know nothing about the different communities within New York City from over one hundred years ago, she seems accurate with both her description and characterization.  It’s rather obvious she did her homework.

My only complaint is that the story went on a little too long.  I feel that about fifty pages could have been cut out, but that’s simply my opinion and many would certainly disagree.  With that being said, the last eighty or so pages move at a vigorous pace and I honestly could not put it down.  I’m especially glad that while it threatened to become a love story, it never fully dove into those waters.  It honestly had a touch of everything – horror, action, romance, fantasy, even humor.  In the end, though, it came to us through a literary lens, which is one of the things I most appreciated.

Wecker executes an intricate, well-woven plot that, ultimately, fits together seamlessly.  She clearly put a great deal of thought into this book and it is a credit to her that her writing style lived up to the richness of the plot.

For those seeking pure horror or overt swords and sorcery, I would look elsewhere.  But for those seeking a very well written tale driven by its characters with exquisite detail and ample using of magical realism, The Golem and the Jinni is for you.

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2 thoughts on “The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – A Book Review

  1. I have this one on my to read list. I’ve been hoping it was great! Think I’ll have to move it up on my list after reading your review. Thanks!

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