“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 jinni, 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 Jinni 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.”
– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15819028-the-golem-and-the-jinni?ac=1)
I first heard of this book through Buzzfeed. No, I’m serious. It figured on a list titled ‘The 12 Greatest Fantasy Books Of The Year’, published last December. I got several books out of that list and The Golem and the Jinni was the first one I read.
It was a nice break from all the YA books I have been reading. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy YA books, but it’s good to take a break from all those love triangles and the action. And that was the case with this book. While this is not a YA book, it does have a strong element of fantasy. We are introduced to Chava, a golem, and Ahmad, a Jinni. I didn’t know what a golem was, and was really intrigued by the concept of such a creature. Jinn were already more familiar to me, though not that much.
I think that one of the things that first occurred to me while reading this book is how golems and jinn belong to cultures that tend to clash. I might be wrong, but golems were portrayed as being a creature from the Jewish folklore, whereas jinn hail from the Islamic folklore. Not that it really plays a role in the story, but I thought it interesting.
This is a slow-paced book, but with a very pleasant writing style. While the story centers around Chava and Ahmad, we are given some chapters focused on secondary characters. Through these chapters, we learn their backstories, and it all comes together in the end. Toward the end, the pace also picks up, and the book becomes nearly impossible to put down.
The ending was quite open, as it not written outright, but implied. Unfortunately, throughout the book, we are forced to say goodbye to some characters, for various reasons, but if these characters didn’t bow out, the story would not be that believable. What I really liked was how some characters redeemed themselves, while others remained set in their ways.
Rating: 4 out of 5