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The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Djinni

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Maxim Jakubowski's view...

March 2014 Debut of the Month.

This is the one for you if you enjoyed Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus or Kate Mosse's sagas. A dazzling historical fantasy debut set in New York at the turn of the 20th century involving both Jewish and Arabic lore in an outrageously romantic tale of impossible love, the immigrant experience and magic. Creatures of legend arrive in the New World and seek their destiny while trying to understand their past. An assured tale with a gallery of colourful characters and oozing with compassion.

September 2013 Guest Editor Daisy Waugh on The Golem and the Djinni...

The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker is not a masterpiece, it's just a really really good novel. Set in turn of the century New York, it’s a fantastic story, full of warmth and surprises, and written so neatly that the writing feels all but invisible. Reading it – as I did just a couple of weeks ago – reminded me, once again, of the near unbeatable joy of relaxing … with a really good, unpretentious and compelling novel. Reminded me how lucky I was to be a writer.

The Lovereading view...

Folklore and legend combine in this enchanting and fascinating tale of two supernatural beings trying to understand themselves and their place in the human melting pot that was 19th century New York.

Two magical beings, a clay Golem and a fiery Djinni, through fate and circumstance find themselves in New York in 1899. Opposites in every way they become unlikely friends who are forced to make a fateful choice when their existence is threated.

This unforgettable story is definitely one for fans of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Golem and the Djinni a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'one of those rare books that completely draws you into its world...A magical, moving, sometimes humorous tale; I hope Helene Wecker will continue writing and look forward to reading her next novel.' Claudia Stach. Scroll down to read more reviews.

If you like Helene Wecker you might also like to read books by Emily Croy Barker and Anna Caltabiano.

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The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker

New York, 1899. Two strangers, one destiny. 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 & 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.


We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review The Golem and The Djinni. You can read their reviews below.

Nailah Afghan - 'This is the most magical fairy tale ever written for grown ups! Strongly recommended.' Click here to read the full review.

Lisa Redmond -
'This is a glorious and page turning escapist read perfect for fans of Susanna Clarke, Deborah Harkness and Carol Goodman.' Click here to read the full review.

Amanda Donovan -
'The author writes vivid descriptions and allows the reader to become fully immersed in the magical realism of her debut novel.' Click here to read the full review.

Judith Smith - 'A beautifully written fairy story keeping you guessing to the very end. A must read for the summer.' Click here to read the full review.

Sam Lewis
- 'You really feel an attachment for the two characters, and the book became an obsession to find out what happens to them both. The book is written beautifully like a tale passed through the years.' Click here to read the full review.

Sarah Harper - 'This is a truly fantastic tale which will completely immerse your senses. An absolutely outstanding debut novel, which I would highly recommend.' Click here to read the full review.

Susan Walsh - 'Take your seats for a fairytale for Adults...Brilliantly written...A truly magical mixture.' Click here to read the full review.

Vicki Sharman - 'When I first received this book I was put off by the size of it, and then reading the first couple of pages thought ‘Ah this isn’t for me’. But, I was very wrong, this book is brilliant.' Click here to read the full review.

Hannah Brittlebank
- 'An original and intriguing book about two fantastical characters struggling to survive in the 19th century ghettos of New York...I would urge readers to give it a try.' Click here to read the full review.

Vanessa Wild - 'What a wondrous and mystical tale. I absolutely loved it! It took me on a magical mystery tour which was beautifully written and graphically told. I was so sad when I turned the last page.' Click here to read the full review.

Shelley Fallows
- 'I very much enjoyed this fascinating, rich novel. The Golem and the Djinni is a story to read slowly. Immerse yourself in Helen Wecker’s wonderful tale, this is one to be kept and re read again and again.' Click here to read the full review.

Beth Kemp
- 'Spellbinding in execution and epic in scope, this beautiful book is one to savour. The novel combines two different folklore traditions into a narrative about immigration and finding one's place.' Click here to read the full review.

Judith Sharp
- 'A book to savour, take your time with and learn from. The historical elements of the story have been meticulously researched, making it as much an historical novel as a fantasy one.' Click here to read the full review.

Michelle Hemmingway - 'Joseph Schall the creator of the golem is the most interesting character. Sinister, intelligent, amoral and cowardly; he is a fantastic villain who is truly scary.' Click here to read the full review.

Angie Rhodes - 'I was reading late into the night...A fantastic fairytale from an amazing new author, I for one, am waiting with baited breath for Helene's next novel.' Click here to read the full review.

Siobhan McDowell - 'a fine debut novel that transported me to a land beyond and a time where the fanciful perhaps could be true!' Click here to read the full review.

Jane Carter - 'It is cleverly and intricately plotted and beautifully written. I was drawn in, held from the first page to the last...It is a remarkable debut, and a very fine, very readable, novel.' Click here to read the full review.

Claudia Stach - 'one of those rare books that completely draws you into its world...A magical, moving, sometimes humorous tale; I hope Helene Wecker will continue writing and look forward to reading her next novel.' Click here to read the full review.


Praise for Helen Wecker:

'By far my favourite book of of the year ... There isn't a wasted word, poorly considered paragraph or a single chapter in this high-concept fairytale that doesn't deliver some new enchantment'
Damien Walter, Guardian

'The Golem and The Djinni has the detailed realism of historical fiction, the haunting feel of a folk tale, and is one of only two novels I've ever loved whose main characters are not human'
Barbara Kingsolver

'The author makes you care enough about the humanity of these magical spirits to not only see them through to the end but also to regret that you've reached the last page'
New York Times

'A continuous delight - provocative, atmospheric, and superbly paced'
Boston Globe

'The Golem and The Djinni are among my favourite fictional people'
Washington Post

About the Author

Helene Wecker

Helene Wecker grew up near Chicago, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in New York. Her work has been published in the online magazine Joyland, and she has read from her stories at the KGB Bar in New York and the Barbershop Reading Series in San Francisco. After a dozen years of moving around between both coasts and the Midwest, she now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter. The Golem and the Djinni is her first novel.

Author photo © Sheldon Wecker

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Book Info

Publication date

13th March 2014


Helene Wecker

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Blue Door an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


656 pages


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