A golem is a creature of Jewish folklore, an inanimate being made of clay
that is created and brought to life to serve a master without desires or thoughts of its own. A jinni is another spelling for the more common word genie, as in a genie in a bottle: a magical being which can sometimes be trapped to serve another's desires. Helene Wecker
employs these two fabled creatures to create a magical novel that will enchant readers.
Poland, a young man about to emigrate to New York comes to the rabbi who knows the incantations to create
a golem. He wants a wife to accompany him but is not the kind of man who can attract one. The rabbi creates the golem and tells the man how to activate it--and how to destroy it.
If a golem has reason to become violent, it is almost impossible to stop, making
it necessary to destroy it. The man activates the golem, then does not survive the trip. The
golem is set adrift in New York, a new being who must make her way as well as learn the ways of humans and hide her nature.
The jinni has lived for hundreds of years in the desert. Lured by boredom to get involved in the lives of the humans who share the desert with him, and his involvement leads to his captivity at the hands of a wizard. He is entombed in a brass vase which ends up buried in the desert. It is found and becomes a kitchen utensil, used and passed down in a family until it makes its way to New York City. When it needs repair, the owner takes it to the local metalworker. In the process of repairing it, the jinni is released. A master metalworker, the jinni starts a life as apprentice/partner to the man who released him.
Two magical creatures, both in New York, both desperate to hide their different natures from those who surround them. Unlikely as it seems, they meet and begin a friendship of sorts. What follows is sheer magic, and readers will not soon forget their story.
This is a debut novel, and readers will be anxious to read Wecker's next work, to see if she can possibly create another work as wonderful as this one. It is imaginative, creative, and the reader will not be able to pull away from the world
Wecker has created. The Golem and the Jinni is recommended for fantasy readers, fans of historical fiction, and for anyone ready to believe that
there is more in this world than the prosaic humdrum that makes up most of our lives.