The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker
Review by Amanda Donovan
The Golem and the Djinni is an engaging first novel by Helene Wecker. In 1899, a Golem made of clay was created to be the wife of Otto. Otto dies on board the Baltika steamship and the Golem is left alone in the world without a master. Caught without a ticket, she escapes the ship when it arrives in America. A Djinni is awoken from a copper flask during repairs by Arbeely in Little Syria and becomes his new apprentice. The Golem and the Djinni meet and bring tension, magic and fantasy to historical America.
The beginning will intrigue all readers. What will the Golem do? Will she find a new master to protect? Who is the Djinni? As the story unfolds, more characters are introduced and all are connected which reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.
Helene Wecker writes in the third person which allows the reader to get to know the characters, feel their emotions and know their thoughts. One of the most quirky characters is Saleh, the icecream seller. He can look at the Djinni’s face, but not people or children – their faces are holes. The author writes vivid descriptions and allows the reader to become fully immersed in the magical realism of her debut novel.