Making a world of “magical things” weave into our idea of reality is a skill. Maybe even more so when this magic is woven into not our present time, but our history, as we have set ideas and an understanding of what has already been.
In The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker brings to life the genie in a lamp (yep, he comes right out a lamp) and a woman made of clay, sets them in New York City in 1890, and then makes the situation seem believable and even possible.
Even while those who become aware of these entities in their midst are stunned into a state of shock and/or denial, Wecker has so authentically created Ahmad and Chava that even though they are primarily called the Jinni and the Golem (i.e. “things”), she draws their journeys (one going back thousands of years, the other mere months) with detail, intimacy, and emotion. These two otherworldly beings find themselves in a world they don’t know, can hardly comprehend, and must learn to navigate, a challenge not very different from the task of all immigrants who have come to America’s shores—and whose stories parallel those of a jinni and a golem.