The Hidden Palace

Helene Wecker. Harper, $28.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-0624-6871-0

Wecker delivers a satisfying, mature sequel to The Golem and the Jinni, continuing the magical story of two immigrant mythological characters from the turn of the 20th century to the outbreak of WWI. Golem Chava Levy and jinni Ahmad al-Hadid renew their friendship in 1900 upon Ahmad’s return to New York City. Soon, their nighttime walks lead to romance. Meanwhile, heiress Sophia Winston travels incognito to the Middle East seeking a cure to her chills, a remnant of her own brief romance with Ahmad. Toby, the young son of Chava’s former co-worker Anna Blumberg, was only present in utero during the climactic events of the first book, and now has questions about Anna’s past. For Chava and Ahmad, their opposite natures both attract and repel, dooming the relationship. Chava then enrolls at Teachers College, and Ahmad throws himself into his work as a metalsmith, holing up in a downtown building to create a mysterious masterpiece. New characters, including another golem and a young female jinniyeh, and historical touchstones such as the sinking of the Titanic, drive the plot. Whereas the first installment was a propulsive battle of good versus evil, this delightful entry is more serialized storytelling à la Dickens. Throughout, Wecker pulls off an impressive juggling act with the many characters, all of whom are well positioned for another sequel. (June)
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