In this chapter, we meet the Djinni half of our supernatural duo, who finds himself making an ally while struggling to adjust to an unfamiliar world – and to figure out how he got there…
Let’s discuss The Golem and the Djinni.
So, now we’ve been introduced to both of our main characters. In chapter one, the Golem arrived in New York after escaping possible detention or imprisonment, after the tragic death of her would-be master, Rotfeld.
In chapter two, the scene shifts to Little Syria, in Lower Manhattan, where a tinsmith named Arbeely has been given a very (very!) old copper flask to repair. He examines it, and decides that the odd scrollwork in the design will have to be removed and redone after the repairs. (Here’s where I give the imaginary camera a Significant Look.) So Arbeely takes a very careful rubbing of the scrollwork for reference, then begins to try to remove it from the flask. Next thing he knows, there’s a very naked, very confused and suddenly very angry man in his shop who begins demanding to know where the wizard is.
I bet that happens all the time.
But Arbeely is a nice man so he gets his unexpected guest some clothes, and after naturally having figured out that this dude from the flask is not as human as he looks, he takes him outside to show him the city and explain where he is. And they work out that he’s probably been trapped in that flask for about a thousand years.
I really enjoyed this chapter, first of all because it pulls that neat little trick of having the story shift to a place not very far, physically, from where the Golem came ashore. THEY ARE SO CLOSE, HOW WILL THEY DISCOVER EACH OTHER. Beyond that, though, this chapter focuses on the introduction of the djinni, who also appears not to have a name. Now, I’m curious to know if that’s because the djinn, as a race, don’t feel any need to name themselves, or because their names are such a deep secret that the reader, at this stage, doesn’t get to know it yet – if we’ll get to know it at all. That is so deeply fascinating, and such a clever little narrative trick, that I can’t help getting more intrigued. I enjoy a good theme of identity and self-discovery, and I enjoy it even more when it’s wrapped up in a good mystery like this.
Clearly we know that despite his belief that the wizard who trapped him is dead, there is some sort of trouble in store for the djinni because a) his binding is still in effect, with no way to remove the iron band on his wrist, and b) there’s a big old blank space in his memory, starting from the incident that got him bound and trapped in the flask to begin with. He doesn’t remember anything between that point and appearing in Arbeely’s shop. So what actually happened – both to him, and to the wizard that I suspect might not be dead after all?
Time to speculate!
Meanwhile, the chapter ends with the djinni offering Arbeely a proposition, upon realising that he works as a tinsmith and that apparently fixing things is something he can also do. It’s not a grand palace built of glass in the desert (way to draw attention to yourself, by the way, djinni friend, I wonder how that wizard found you), but a functioning teakettle is a valuable thing to have!
I like that their relationship isn’t set to be antagonistic here, in part because we learn that Arbeely is socially awkward and doesn’t have a lot of friends, never mind any close friends. TWO OUTSIDERS BONDING. A DJINN LEARNING TO TRUST A HUMAN. Give me that good wholesome stuff. I love it.
Time to read on…