Wecker has a grand idea here – a Golem and a Jinni arrive in New York around the same time and do what they can to ‘pass’ in the new world. There are a lot of interesting intersections — physical, social, spiritual, temporal, geographical (though surprisingly, not really political). And Wecker weaves her story well. I always looked forward to the Jinni’s backstory (though it ends up resting on one of those ‘he’s not really dead’ cliches – not a spoiler, since you don’t know who I mean), in particular.
Wecker knows her landscape well. The newly arrived immigrant. Late 19th / early 20th century New York. And her research, especially some of the mystical and religious sections, are integrated well.
My objection to the novel was the pacing. We know the Golem and the Jinni are going to meet. We know their secrets are going to be threatened and then finally revealed. Wecker, herself, doesn’t seem to know what to do with her ending. It’s definitely the kind of first novel ending that deflates the grand vision of the plot. See White Teeth and The Kite Runner for other examples of authors who didn’t know how to end their books.
I wanted to be more engaged. And I wanted more politics.