Tag: The Golem and the Jinni

The Hidden Palace (The Golem and the Jinni #2) by Helene Wecker

Way back in 2013 I reviewed The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and I was a big fan:

A mix of history, romance, fantasy, folklore and psychological/philosophical musings it was both entertaining and thought-provoking. The story starts slowly by introducing us to the main characters and settings (primarily turn-of-the-century Manhattan) but these characters and settings are so engaging that you don’t mind the slow pace, or at least I didn’t, but settle in to enjoy the process and explore this fictional world.

But danger is always lurking for both the Golem and the Jinni and the tension begins to grow, the plot lines start to mingle and tangle and by the end you are feverishly reading to find out what happens. As you do so you find the questions about destiny and free will, about choice and character, intriguing and even challenging.

I am not usually a big fan of historical fiction but in this case the fantasy and folklore elements combined with the history to form a compelling blend.

So when the long awaited follow up, The Hidden Palace, was released last year I added it to the To Be Read (TBR) list.


Chava is a golem, a woman made of clay, who can hear the thoughts and longings of those around her and feels compelled by her nature to help them. Ahmad is a jinni, a restless creature of fire, once free to roam the desert but now imprisoned in the shape of a man. Fearing they’ll be exposed as monsters, these magical beings hide their true selves and try to pass as human—just two more immigrants in the bustling world of 1900s Manhattan. Brought together under calamitous circumstances, their lives are now entwined—but they’re not yet certain of what they mean to each other.

Both Chava and Ahmad have changed the lives of the people around them. Park Avenue heiress Sophia Winston, whose brief encounter with Ahmad left her with a strange illness that makes her shiver with cold, travels to the Middle East to seek a cure. There she meets Dima, a tempestuous female jinni who’s been banished from her tribe. Back in New York, in a tenement on the Lower East Side, a little girl named Kreindel helps her rabbi father build a golem they name Yossele—not knowing that she’s about to be sent to an orphanage uptown, where the hulking Yossele will become her only friend and protector.

My Take

As I noted in my review of the first book, I don’t normally read or enjoy much historical fiction. The Golem and Jinni overcame that drawback but I think The Hidden Palace reminded me why I tend not to read a lot of this genre.  It just took a lot for me to get into the story and flow. I can appreciate the details and social interaction but it felt like the plot took a long time to really get moving. There was a lot of set up. But once it really got moving it was enjoyable. I liked it but didn’t love it.

I think this is a book that you have to be in the mood to just enjoy the characters, relationships and settings as the plot slowly develops. If you are happy just to be back in this world again, you can enjoy it for that aspect.  But the sequel just lacks the narrative flow and drive that the first book did.