From Goodreads: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.
Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free—an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.
The Golem and The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures—until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Combining Jewish mysticism and Arab folklore with immigrant experiences in nineteenth-century New York City and making it a wonderful read is no easy feat. Yet it is done masterfully in this book. I loved it!
Let me tell you, Helene Wecker has a way with words. The language in this book is beautiful. There are parts in this book with little action, but the slow pace let me savor all the wonderful descriptions and observations. The Golem and the Jin are very different creatures—opposites in many ways—yet they slowly come to understand and even appreciate each other. It is a delicately woven story.
We follow the Golem through its creation and arrival in New York City. The Jin’s story is told in flashbacks. While describing how each adjusts to being around human beings, the book slowly builds up to their meeting. And all the while in the background looms the “powerful threat” that might destroy both of them.
I will have to reread the ending at some point because I feel like I didn’t fully understand all the nuances. But then I am tempted to reread the entire book—that’s how much I liked it! (In fact, after I finished reading the library copy, I went out and bought the hardcover edition. It’s too bad that you can’t see the beautiful cover on the book shelf.)
Next, I will read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. It’s been on my to-read list for a while, and it has come up several times in reviews of The Golem and the Jinni.