This epic mitosis exponentially augments the story’s narrative power and emotional consequences ... From one crisis to the next, a strange and unbreakable alliance develops among many persons and elemental creatures, burgeoning into something even more marvelous than the rabbinical spell and the desert magic that brought the golems and jinn into being ... Fans of The Golem and the Jinni have waited eight years for this sequel, a minor eternity perfectly in keeping with the precarious immortality of Wecker’s hopeful monsters. It has been worth the wait.
Every time I pick up Dickens, I remember how his works were originally published in installments, how each would end on a cliffhanger, whipping readers into a frenzy that sent them back for the next chapter. Wecker’s chapters operate on a similar level, weaving forward a grand but slow-moving master plan through a vast tapestry of characters ... Wecker doesn’t give her readers an easy landing in her sequel; lengthy pages of exposition fill the reader in with the several hundred pages of plot they might have missed in the last book. But please don’t be deterred by that. If you missed the first novel last time around, take this testimony as encouragement to pick up the first volume. And, if you have schooled yourself in the ways of the titular monsters, then please, please do invite yourselves to this next chapter of their existence.
Wecker tantalizes us right up to the end. Nor does she neglect the maturation of her two main characters. What she focuses on is their development as artists ... Wecker’s portrait of New York City from 1900 to 1915 has the bright substance and sheen of, say, an E.L. Doctorow or Jack Finney book. She does not rely overmuch on famous events or famous personalities (we do see the sinking of the Lusitania and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire), but rather delights in charting the lives of her average invented citizens and the societal and technological changes at large.
Spanning more than a decade and touching on major early-twentieth-century events, such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the sinking of the Titanic, and the beginning of WWI, Wecker’s second outing blends Jewish and Middle Eastern mythology within a vibrant historical setting.
Wecker skillfully combines the storylines of these and numerous other players, good and evil, in a story that, while self-contained, gives every promise of being continued ... An enchanting tale that, though demanding lots of suspended disbelief, pleases on every page.
Wecker delivers a satisfying, mature sequel ... 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.