Book Review: The Hidden Palace (The Golem and the Jinni #2) by Helene Wecker (four stars)

Book Review: The Hidden Palace (The Golem and the Jinni #2) by Helene Wecker (four stars)

“Stop searching for the things that no one can explain. Isn’t this world cruel enough as it is?”

A fitting sequel to The Golem and the Jinni. Starts slowly as Wecker widens the scope of the story and cast. Like the best historical fiction, she blends her plot into real events, in this case the swelling tide of the First World War, capturing how it looked to the Hebrew and Lebanese communities of Manhattan. Good, clean writing.

“Jinn do not have friends. We may be allies, or enemies, or lovers, but not friends.” “And I suppose a lover is not necessarily an ally.” “Not in my experience.” “Nor mine.”

The pace picks up midway as the scattered treads start to tighten. The various dénouement are well foreshadowed but not revealed beforehand. Some surprise and sorrow is still possible.

“You are exactly like them,” he said, pointing out toward the city. “You’d make me as meek and obedient as yourself, if I would only allow it. You’d make a human of me—no, you would turn me into you.”

Recommended for fans of historical fiction. Not typical fantasy, horror, or science fiction but incorporates elements of all, but with an intimacy that occasionally hurts. Well done.

“Sometimes, she challenges me, constantly, to be better than I am.” “And are there times when you resent the challenge? When you wish that, just this once, she’d let you be a little bit worse than you are?” “Of course.”

Book Review: The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein

Four Stars out of Five.

“No one deserves their life. It is a gift, given to all.”

Reading the blurb a reader might think this book was another Jews and the Holocaust story, albeit with a fantastic twist. A casual reading of the opening chapters suggests it’s more about magic, Kabballah and Jewish folklore, but in fact it strikes me as a meditation on the relationship of superstition and religion with those others playing out in the foreground.

“He who saves a life, it is as though he saved the entire world.”

The precise reader may stumble over the fluid geography, language and history, but the author assures us of its antecedents. Regardless, Goldstein takes us to the intersection of history and mystery. Where what you believe may be more important than what is real. Simultaneously a disturbing and an affirming story. Good job.

“Touched by magic.”