Monday, March 17, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni

I read The Golem and the Jinni because it made some best of lists for 2013, both fantasy/scifi and other.  Part way into the novel, I was convinced I'd been tricked into reading a fantasy romance novel.  It is a fantasy romance novel.  But Helen Wecker is a hell of a good writer.  Apparently that expensive Carleton education can come in handy.

At the heart of it, it's a bit Romeo and Juliet and starcrossed lovers, but without the angst of teenage romance, and with a theme that romance breeds better relationships than lust.  Not only are the characters from different backgrounds: Jewish and Arabic, at least where they make their homes, but from different species as well.  It's a clever way to position considering what really makes the Golem and the Jinni different.  Clay and fire?  Jewish and Arabic?  Taker and giver?  And when they're put in the melting pot of immigrant-era New York, much of it ceases to matter beyond their reliance on each other, including those in their community who aren't supernatural.

Throw in a bad guy magician with an unnatural lifespan for a unique set of reasons, and there's a historical span beyond the early US setting.  Many levels and beautifully written.

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