Thursday, March 12, 2020

Five novels set in a fantastical America

Sara Holland is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Everless, Evermore, and most recently Havenfall.

At she tagged five books set in a fantastical America, including:
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

With apologies for over-representing NYC historical fantasy on this list, I’ll just say that this is a magical city teeming with magical stories. In 1899, two new arrivals appear on the streets of Manhattan. They are even more out of place than their immigrant peers: Chava is a golem, created out of clay. Made to be the wife of a man who died on the voyage from Poland, she’s now alone and adrift in the city. Meanwhile, Ahmad is a fire-formed jinni from the Syrian desert, who is accidentally set free by a tinsmith after centuries trapped in a copper flask. They must both create a life for themselves in this new, strange world of tenements and narrow streets and elevated trains; learn how to exist in a society that wasn’t made for them, and try to appear human. Chava takes a job at a bakery and wonders where food goes when she eats it; Ahmad works for the tinsmith, making it a point of pride to learn the craft of metalworking rather than just using his innate fire magic to get the job done. They meet a range of fascinating people in their neighborhood, from wizards to rabbis to ice cream makers; and when their own paths cross, sparks will fly. In the hands of a lesser author, the parallels between immigrants entering America and supernatural beings entering the human world might have been heavy-handed. But Wecker’s subtly gorgeous prose means it works, becoming an intricate, epic love story with a mythic feel.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Golem and the Jinni is among W.L. Goodwater's five books with manipulated memories, Ruthanna Emrys's five favorite books that tell the monster’s story, Tara Sonin's five sexy novels to unleash your wanderlust, Francis Spufford's ten top New York novels, seven recommended books for Game of Thrones fans, and Chris Bohjalian's twenty notable books about troubled romances.

The Page 69 Test: The Golem and the Jinni.

--Marshal Zeringue