6.09.2021

The Hidden Palace (The Golem & the Jinni #2)
by Helene Wecker
out June 08, 2021
ISBN: 9780062468741
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

I was incredibly nervous to start this book. I adored The Golem and the Jinni, but it has been eight years since I read it and the details were a little fuzzy. What if The Hidden Palace was confusing to me? What if it didn't live up the hype in my mind?

I put it off until I couldn't any more and dove right in.

If you, too, are feeling a bit anxious about forgetting the details of The Golem and the Jinni, fear not. It seems the author anticipated as much and lays a neat trail a breadcrumbs for us to follow, replaying memories for us, explaining prior events, and bringing us back up to speed. I fell right into the rhythm of the story, remembering as I went along, and was entranced.

There are multiple narrators and they took turns being my favorite. There are, of course, Chava (the golem) and Ahmad (the jinni), along with Sophia (the young women whose brief dalliance with Ahmad in The Golem and the Jinni has left her with a persistent physical suffering), Anna and her son Toby (Chava's pregnant friend from the previous book), and two new characters: a young jinn woman in the Syrian desert, and Kreindel, the young daughter of an Orthodox rabbi who stumbles into dark magic. Their stories all weave closer and closer together until they are all drawn together in a climactic finish.

I felt most invested in Sophia's story, oddly enough, as I remembered little of her from the previous book, and loved the new characters. No one is completely good, no one is completely bad - they are all multifaceted and complex characters that we see from different angles, getting better understandings of them as they interact with the others.

I would have read all 480 pages in a single sitting if my life would have allowed it.

I very highly recommend this book, particularly to fans of historical fiction and magical realism. While it is chock-full of mythological elements, the historical and geographical setting are characters of their own and it doesn't quite feel right to call it a fantasy novel. It is a deep look at humanity shown through the lens of the inhuman.

Again -- I VERY HIGHLY recommend this book.

arc received from the publisher to review