Book Reviews

The Golem and the Djinni – Helene Wrecker

It’s 1899, everybody is making their way to the new world to start a new life and to gain their fortune. In a time where people believed anything was possible, it truly is in this novel.

Chava is a Golem, a creature made of clay for the protection of the Jews. Ahmad is a Djinni, a mythical being of the wind from the deserts in Syria. They find themselves in New York, both bound to a life of normality and brought together by forces which have been around almost as long as  the Djinni, concluding in a dramatic and heart wrenching climax. 

Their stories may be the work of fiction but, in a time where our love for a fellow man is dwindling and walls are being erected this book serves as a vessel for acceptance of one another, regardless of our backgrounds. 

Both of the main protagonists are extremely likeable, even Ahmad with his bad temper and disregard for humans and their bodies. Chava is innocent and naive, unaware of the danger that she poses with the simple fact of being alive. Thankfully she has a good teacher in a helpful Rabbi who, rightly guesses what she is and strives to help her with her new found life. He is the first accepting soul of many in the book.

Chava and Ahmad complement each other, he is outgoing while she is an introvert, he is safe while she is dangerous and both of them look for something to fill their sleepless nights. They wander the streets of New York marvelling at the achievements of men with their delicate bodies which are prone to breaking. Seeing the world through their eyes was enriching and made me proud of the little accomplishments we make throughout our lives. Of course the book is not about our accomplishments but theirs and how they survive in this strange and foreign world.

And while their story unfolds in New York we are taken back to the Rabbi who created Chava, a man swarmed with dark magic and evil intentions his mind constantly goes back to Chava and whether she is alive or dead. From the beginning we know that the two of them will meet again, but the circumstances in which they do is the work of a beautifully crafted story which is full of surprises. 

Beautifully written and at times poetic in the messages and scenes it portrays this book is a work of art as well as fiction. Wrecker has managed to write a book that encompassses what it means to be human and the values that we must stand for from the viewpoint of two mythical and fantastic characters. While I am may not be able to connect with them on a religious or cultural level, the want and need to be accepted run deep and true and I believe that this book will be able to connect to nearly all who read it. 

I have noticed that there is a #1 next to the tile of this book on Goodreads, implying, that there will be a second book. I don’t know if I will say this again but I hope that there isn’t a sequel to this novel. This book , for me, works extremely well as a standalone and has a fulfilling plot arc filled with all of the nessary ingredients. If there is a second book I will buy it but, I’m not sure if it will be able to live up to the standard set with this novel.


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