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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

In the last year of the 19th century, exciting new technology is bringing the world’s cultures together in a way never before seen. In a thrivingly modern New York, magic seems a silly superstition, a thing of the past. But just because some things are no longer believed in, does not mean they do not exist…

Chava is a golem, brought to life from earth and clay and cast adrift at the death of her master. Alone in a new city, her only wish is to keep her true nature secret, and to be left alone. Ahmad is a creature of fire, a jinni, trapped in a copper flask for hundreds of years. Accidently released into a new and bewildering era, Ahmad wants nothing more than to break his iron bonds and return to his home in the Syrian desert.

Though fire and earth are opposing elements, the Golem and the Jinni are drawn together by fate, forming an unlikely friendship as they navigate their new world. But destiny is not finished with them yet, as an ancient evil threatens, not only their lives, but also the very existence of all those around them.

Often books that move too slowly are dull and boring to read, lacklustre stories stretched out hundreds of pages longer than necessary. In the hands of the right author, however, a slow ponderous plot can become utterly magical. Helene Wecker is one such author.

Set against a backdrop of a growing city bursting at the seams, Wecker weaves together threads from many different cultures into a rich new fairytale. Despite the historical setting, The Golem and the Jinni never feels outdated, as the struggles faced by both human and magical creature are as relevant in 2014 as in 1899. Chava and Ahmad are compelling leads, each believably flawed and likeable.

Though the book is a decent length (nearing 500 pages) I found this a quick read – mainly because I couldn’t put it down. This is Wecker’s debut novel – I can’t wait to see what she does next!

REVIEWER: Arielle Walker

TITLE: The Golem and the Jinni

AUTHOR: Helene Wecker

PUBLISHER: HarperCollins


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