Historical, fantasy, or romance…? The Golem and the Jinni is a bit of a mix of all three. The Manhattan of 1899 is almost as much a character as anything else in this novel, but it doesn’t feel like a travelog the way Time and Again does.

The main problem with the book that there’s just enough magic and lost knowledge to make you wonder how it doesn’t more often come to the attention of the modernizing world. Especially when two otherwise normal-human characters experience profound difficulties from their brushes with the… less logical side of the world. But it genre conceit of hidden magic mostly works, and this is a minor problem in a very well put together book.

The titular characters are the viewpoints for the bulk of the book (a few others get to be viewpoint characters for brief stretches as well), and Wecker’s handling of these not-quite-humans is one of the strongest parts of the novel. The structure begins with a typical switching between two independent stories each chapter, and then starts going into backstory, and then gets more complicated as the plot moves forward, and then at the end, it all comes together, and every part of the novel is shown to have its place in the whole.

What makes this all the more impressive is that this is the author’s first book. I definitely look forward to seeing more from Helene Wecker!