This book was all over CBR last year, and I had it on my list of books to read. A few friends decided to start a book club, so I thought this one would be good for discussion. I’m writing this review before the discussion, and so my feelings may change (that does happen sometimes!) At this point, I thought it was a beautifully written story with interesting characters. The pace of the book was a crescendo, with all the stories weaving together and building up to a big ending. I felt the build up dragged a bit, and would have like to see the pace picked up. I am going to give this book 3 stars.
Here’s a breakdown…
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What is this book about?
This book is several stories that intertwined. The story of the golem, whose master died shortly after ring her to life. She ends up living with a rabbi in New York. The story of the Jinni, who was trapped in a copper flask and then set free by a metal smith (Arbeely). And the story of Schaalman- an evil genius (and creator of the golem) searching for immortal life. The golem and the jinni don’t even meet until about 1/3 of the way through the book. The first third of the story is establishing the characters, which is done well, but moves so slow. When the golem and the jinni finally meet, they are barely friends and seem to tolerate each other based on their ‘otherness’ from the humans. We learn that Schaalman is a reincarnation of the man who trapped the jinni in the bottle. And his life is tied to the jinni’s- so as long as the jinni lives, he lives. He sets out to trap the jinni again and press the golem into his service to teach his reincarnations (none of them remember former lives). Schaalman fails, and gets trapped in the flask himself. The golem and jinni seem to find that they actually like each other. The only sad note is that the jinni is still trapped in human form.
What did I think about this book?
As I mentioned in the intro I thought the pacing of the story was slow.
The character development was good, and the writing was beautiful.
The setting of story- old New York City and the depictions of Little Syria and the Jewish area.
I liked the Jinni’s skepticism towards Arbeerly’s religion.
“Why reinforce our differences, and keep ancient laws, and never know the joy of breaking bread with our neighbors?”
“You and your relations believe that a ghost living in the sky can grant you wishes.”
I’d like to hope that the Jinni eventually gets free.