Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Book Rave: The Golem and The Jinni

April 7th, 2014

My novel The Red: First Light was short listed for this year’s Nebula award, along with seven other works, some of which I’ve read or intend to read. But I blush to admit I was unaware of Helene Wecker’s fantasy novel The Golem and The Jinni until it appeared on the list.

I don’t think the title is particularly enthralling, but it does tell you exactly what constitutes the story’s essential core: by strange chance an artificial woman made of clay – the golem – and a spirit creature founded in fire – the jinni – arrive in 19th century New York City and ultimately find that their paths intertwine.

The fantasy in this book is well-handled, but it’s the historical content that really impresses. The research that went into it is evident, and the result is fascinating. I was only twenty or thirty percent through when I realized it must have taken years to write this story. As it turns out, the author spent seven years working on this novel, with two years devoted to research.

That doesn’t mean the story bogs down in irrelevant detail – just that it is as much an historical novel as a fantasy. That said, it is not an edge-of-the-seat thriller, but it’s not trying to be. The first part of the novel includes a series of character introductions, each one detailed and interesting, that brings forth a diverse cast, which the author cleverly brings together by the story’s end.

Oh, and I should mention that this is a first novel. That’s something I would not have guessed.

So if you’re into historical fiction with a strong dose of the fantastic, look for Helene Wecker’s The Golem and The Jinni.

Posted on: Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 9:14 am
Categories: Recommended Reading.
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