What a lovely way to start my new reading year. First of all, I want to thank Jen K for this lovely book. She gave it to me as part of the Cannonball Read gift exchange, and as I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to be able to do it justice when I was hurrying through books at the end of December to finish my triple Cannonball, I decided that it would be my first book of 2014. As it turns out, due to me getting ill over the Christmas holidays, I was stuck with huge amounts of correction work for the first week and a half of January, and only really able to read on the bus to and from work and in the occasional stolen moment before I passed out exhausted in bed each night. I am given to understand that this may be all the reading, or even more than, the average person does. Well, to me, it’s pretty much akin to torture. Suffice to say, the fact that the book was so engrossing made this experience extra frustrating for me. But what is this delightful book about, you ask?
Chava is the titular golem, a woman made of clay supposed to be bound to one master, created by a disgraced and sinister rabbi in Poland. Her master, the man who commissioned her, brings her to life on the sea voyage to America, and dies very shortly after. Hence Chava no longer has one person’s commands to obey and begins hearing the thoughts and wishes of all those around her. She arrives alone in New York in 1899, and luckily a kindly rabbi recognises her for what she is and takes her in, determined to teach her to fit in, so she doesn’t lose control and use her inhuman strength to harm or kill anyone. He helps her get a job in a bakery, and coaches her to hide her true nature.
Ahmad is the jinni, or djinn. Trapped for centuries in a copper oil flask by a Bedouin wizard, he wakes up on the floor of a tinsmith’s shop, with no memory of how he ended up so far away from the Syrian deserts he came from. Arbeely, the young tinsmith is rather shocked to discover that the childhood tales of djinn he was told are apparently true, and does what he can to help Ahmad (a name Arbeely gives him, djinns don’t have human names) settle in amongst the residents of little Syria in lower Manhattan. Ahmad may be free of the lamp, but he still has an unbreakable iron cuff around his wrist, forcing him to stay in human shape. He needs to discover how he was trapped in the lamp in the first place, and seeks to find the means to fully free himself. More on my blog.