The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What defines life? I would argue that Helene Wecker defines life as "Having Free Will." To be alive but to be enslaved, physically, mentally, emotionally, is to be nothing but a walking corpse...a puppet.
A Golem is just that- a clay puppet created to do the will of its master. A Jinni is a transcendental being, untethered by the laws of physics. However, an enslaved Jinni is also a puppet.
Every puppet has a master.
What happens when the masters are gone?
This fantasy novel spans hundreds of years and three countries. We begin in Poland, travel to Syria, and then on to New York City as we follow the paths of Chava and Ahmad.
Chava is a Golem, originally created to be a man's wife- which is a blasphemy. Ahmad is a Jinni, freed from his copper prison but still trapped in human form. Both magical creatures possess abilities that are superhuman. Both must pretend to be human in a world that would never believe them to be otherwise. However, despite their not being human, they experience human life with its joys, pains, and choices.
They possess Free Will but are, unknowingly, in constant threat of losing it.
This is a beautifully written tale that is part historical fiction, part folk tale. The characters are not only developed, they breathe actual breath. Brava Ms. Wecker!
For ages 15+.