Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker

A golem is a creature of Jewish folklore, an inanimate being made of clay who is created and brought to life to serve a master and have no 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 who can sometimes be trapped to serve another's desires.  Helene Wecker has employed these two fabled creatures to create a magical novel that will enchant readers.

The golem is created in Poland in 1899.  The young man who comes to the rabbi who knows the incantations to create such a being is about to emigrate to New York.  He wants a wife to accompany him and 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 necessary.  For if a golem has reason to become violent, it is almost impossible to stop it and it becomes necessary to destroy it.  The man activates the golem, then doesn't 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.  He is 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 also.  When it needs repair, the owner takes it to the local metalworker. In the process of repairing it, the jinni is released.  A master metal worker, 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 that is as wonderful as this one.  It is imaginative, creative, and the reader will not be able to pull away from this world she has created.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers and for anyone ready to believe there is more in this world than the prosaic humdrum that makes up most of our lives. 

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