Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker- Review


When I saw the cover and the title of this book I really wanted to read it.  I have also been wanting to read more magical realism books so that is another reason why I picked it up.  Here is the goodreads description:

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world. The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.  


I went on a long road trip and listened to this book as an audio book.  It was almost perfect timing too.  I only had 1 hr left on the audio when I got home. I enjoyed this audio book's narrator George Guidall.  I love that he had an middle eastern accent which really brought the story alive to me.  This book was really neat... including magic, romance, friendship, and much more.  It takes a story that is meant to be magical... but also teaches us somethings.  We learn about immigrants and what they experienced coming to our country.

We get to read about an old world where the Jinni comes from .. who is brought into a new world (the end of the 19th century) along with a female Golem. Chava is a golem. Ahmad is a jinni.  They have a chance meeting in New York City and become strange friends.  They both have their own lives going on in NY.. and yet find the time to meet up.  The golem and the jinni try to pass as humans.   There are many characters in this book who all seem to tie together eventually.  I find them all interesting.  Wecker writes characters so well. 

I originally became even more interested in reading this book when I read a review on it over at Jorie Loves a Story.  She even goes into depth to learn more about golems and jinni. I think this book fits so well into the magical realism category. It is a book where magic and legends just might be true. I really did grow to love the characters and want to know about their future together.  I really loved that there is a mix of a golem which is a Jewish myth about which is an automation of earth brought to life and then there is the jinni which is an Arab myth about a creature who is fire. 

I really did enjoy listening to this book.  The plot never went in the direction I was waiting for, but it was still good.   If you are looking for magical realism then this is the book for you.  

The crystal ball says:





Fog is coming.....  in the middle of the road on this book!

27 comments:

  1. One of my friends really liked this book, so it's been on my radar for a while. It sounds like it's pretty good.

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  2. It was really neat and out of the ordinary. I like to read a book that is just something I haven't read before.

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  3. This one is on my e-reader, and I keep forgetting it's there! Darn those e-readers and their tendency to hide books from me. :)

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  4. Out of the ordinary is good, I'll keep an eye on it :)

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  5. I thought I read that the author said she was considering a sequel. I'd love to see where the characters end up.

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  6. Szever - The Dork PortalJune 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    I'll need to pick this back up again. It ended up in my DNF pile, but not because of anything with the book. Other distractions took me away from it for too long.

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  7. I really did enjoy reading this book last year. It got off to a slow start, but I loved the culture portrayed in the book. The melding of two cultures that in the real world don't necessarily mesh very well. The setting of New York City was fascinating as well. I love NYC.

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  8. Already on my TBR list (and my Kindle)! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Now if I can just find the time to read it!

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  9. I agree... I have a bunch of books on my ereader that I always forget are on there. It's like a hidden book shelf.

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  10. It is a great book... kind of romantic at times. I enjoyed it... I didn't love it, but I really it kept me interested throughout the whole book.

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  11. I would love to know that two. Especially since I am rooting for the golem and the jinni of course!

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  12. The book is a long book... so I can see if something comes up you could have to start over. So much happens in the book so if you fall behind you would probably have to start over. There are just so many characters to keep track of.

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  13. I think it starts slow too. But since I was on a 9 hr road trip that day and had nothing else to do I just kept listening to it and it got better. I love NYC in the 1900s-1920s. That is just a fun and amazing time to me. If there is a sequel it would be fun to read about everyone in the 1920s.

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  14. It is a long book... I only really squeezed it in because it was a road trip.. so I listed to it in about 1 week's time. When I got home I had to finish the last 50 pages here so I just checked out the ebook from the library and read them.

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  15. I liked the book at the beginning, but half way through it, I felt it was dragging and abandoned it.

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  16. I don't know if I would really like this book - I'm afraid it will be too slow paced, but I like that it has jinni and golem which I don't see too much in books nowadays. I might pick this up as audiobook though since that might be better for me to get through it.

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  17. I loved the golem and the jinni. In fact.. I would like to read more books about them. I think mixing creatures like this is fun and neat. Though it is a long book... so sometimes I drifted in thoughts while listening to the audio.

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  18. I will say it is a long book... and it really is more of a character study then anything else. We really see how they learn to live in this new world... just like the immigrants coming into America at the time. I thought that was a neat parallel.

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  19. It is slow... and long. As an audio book I made it through. I do have to admit though I am not sure if I would've finished it had I been reading it. I can understand though that this book isn't for everyone. There is no call magic tricks or anything.. really it's just a story about life.

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  20. Maddy@Symphony of WordsJune 12, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Wow, this sounds like an amazing read! Being a huge fan of high fantasy, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy this very very much! :) Great review!

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  21. I have this one, I even started it a while ago, but then I put it down. Not sure why I did that. I should give it another go.

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  22. I really enjoyed this one, but I didn't realize it was such a character study. The plot was slow, but the writing was sooo good it made up for it.

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  23. I am not sure that I would call it "high fantasy". There really isn't a lot of world building. Really you are just in NY, there is a little tiny bit of plot that takes you to back when the jinni lived in his castle. But even then you don't get to see an amazing magical world. So be ready to not really read about an amazing world.

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  24. I do think this book takes a while to get into. I am not surprised you put it down. Probably was a little boring to you at first. I would say it gets better in the middle of the book.

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  25. The plot is slow.. it is much much more of a book about characters. I remember sometimes learning a lot about a minor character and wondering why??? Thinking they were going to have some sort of major role later and really then didn't ever have another part. So it is a lot of talking about characters and who they are.

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  26. Thank you for quoting my book review in your own review! :) At first I wasn't sure if you enjoyed what you were reading, but even I was hoping there was a hope of a sequel, as I believe this particular book deserves a book two, if only to carry-on from the ending chapters into a conclusion that befits where everyone was at the end of the first book. I am delighted that you were as excited about reading this book as I was and that you enjoyed the extra research I did for Magical Realism! I'm hopeful that I am inspiring others to pick & choose Magical Realism books, either from the ones I listed on my blog OR simply by finding out about them, picking up the books on their own. It is such an exciting area of literature.

    I liked how you listened to the story of "The Golem and the Jinni" vs reading it, and I think that provided a bit of a different takeaway than when I read it off the page. I need to give audio books a try sometime, but I am into the old school versions where you have cds and not mp3s. Laughs. The next one I am going to read is "Winter's Tale", as I'd love to read it ahead of my library getting the film version! I always meant to read it previously, but time sweeps us away! Are you going to continue reading books on this thematic or were you too disappointed!?



    Truly!? Wow. I noticed some commenters thought it was too long of a book!? For me, it could have been at least 100 pages LONGER. :) Laughs. I guess we all enjoy something different from each other! :)

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  27. I do think that listening to it gave it a different feel. I don't really enjoy audiobooks at all. But when I go on road trips I like to squeeze one in since it is like 9 hours of "reading". I do enjoy magical realism and will read more books in this category. I didn't think this book was too long... though I can see why others think that. To me there wasn't a really big plot, more just learning about people. who they are where they came from. So that can make for a long book sometimes.



    I suppose for me I wasn't disappointed in the book.. but I also didn't think it was the best book ever. It really was in the middle of the road for me. I would read the next book though only to learn what ends up happening to the golem and the jinni. They are fascinating characters.

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