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The Hidden Palace - November 2022 Book Club Reading

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
9780062468710_p0_v4_s1200x630.jpg

The Hidden Palace is a 2021 book written by Helen Wecker and published by Harper. The book tells the story if Chava, a golem, who can hear the thoughts and longings of those around here and is compelled by her nature to help them. Ahmad is a jinni, a creature of fire, once free to roam the desert but not imprisoned in the shape of a man. Fearing they'll be exposed as monsters, these magical beings hide their true nature and attempt to pass as mere humans, just another two immigrants in bustling 1900s Manhattan.

This novel is the sequel to the Golem and the Jinni, Wecker's first novel, and winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the VCU Cabell Award for First Novel, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and was nominated for a Nebula Award and a World Fantasy Award.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I read this when it came out last year and had a great time, though I will offer a caveat that I think reading The Golem and the Jinni is probably necessary before picking this up. But if you've already read that one, you're in for an excellent follow-up!
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Yeah, I thought it was a little odd that it was a sequel as well. But, I trust @Paul le Fou it knew what they were doing and so reading the prior book is not a requirement.
 

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
(He)
Thanks for your faith in me, but it seems misplaced. For some reason I was under the impression that it was more of a follow-up and not a direct sequel. I haven't read it, myself, so I didn't know either way! D:
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
It is a direct sequel! There's a lot of plot and character development in the first book that I feel like you're gonna need before diving into this one, but I hope you're all able to enjoy it anyway.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I can't recommend starting with the first one strongly enough. Not only is it excellent, but it'll set you up for the sequel!
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Got my hands on the first book. Starting now. I'm going to say its okay to use this thread to talk about either of the books.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Got my hands on the first book. Starting now. I'm going to say its okay to use this thread to talk about either of the books.
I'm only on chapter 3 of the first book but am very much liking it so far. I can so vividly imagine these scenes, really liking the writing.
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Got my hands on the first book. Starting now. I'm going to say its okay to use this thread to talk about either of the books.

Finished this evening. I loved it. Will say more tomorrow. But, I did immediately pick up and start The Hidden Palace. I've only got a few days to get through it though before I have to return to the library.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Finished the first book and absolutely loved it. Great engaging writing, I continued to feel so immersed in every scene, all the characters were unique and interesting, did not expect the reincarnation twist. Poor Michael though.

I'm first in line on the holds list at the library for the second book and excited to continue the story. I started reading the second one before people said it was a direct sequel and returned it to read the first. I was pleased to see that it looks like Sophia gets more involvement in the second book, looking forward to that.
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I have finished both books. I loved both of them for really different readings. I think reading them back to back benefited me.

The first book is exciting, it is epic. It is a love story. Full of romance and hope. Just like how you feel when you first fall in love with someone.

The second book
is more like the work that comes after you first fall in love. It's what happens when you are no longer walking on cloud nine. When life settles in and you start to find that the person you thought was perfect has flaws, and things about them you don't understand and you don't even like. The Hidden Palace portrays this so well, while keeping the writing engaging and me immersed in this alternative early 20th century New York.

Not only is the shine off of Chava and Ahmad's relationship but it's off of the wonderland of the United States as well. We see the slums, we see that they are slums, that people are stuck in them and none of their hard work does anything to improve their situation. Ahh! It's soo good. We see the toxicity of Sophia's familial relationships. We meet this woman jinni, and we see more of just how alien the Jinn are. We see just how human Ahmad has become, despite all the work he has done to stay jinn. We see Chava change herself completely. We see how love can mean not being together. I loved this second book, because it didn't end with the fairytale end. Stories go on and we got to see that there are no endings, only new beginnings, and how people can stay together even through such change.
 

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
(He)
Well, even if it was a screw-up, I'm glad I got more people to read and love The Golem and the Jinni! I wonder if I should reread it before getting into The Hidden Palace (eventually)...
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Aside from everything that's been said already, I wanted to add that I appreciate these books (moreso the first one) because they feel like the New York of my great-grandparents. Like every New Yorker, I love stories about the New York that preceded me, and this was no exception. My family came over in the early 1900s and lived in tenements on the Lower East Side. I know there's plenty of non-fiction on that subject, but it pleased me to see it as the backdrop here too.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Well, even if it was a screw-up, I'm glad I got more people to read and love The Golem and the Jinni! I wonder if I should reread it before getting into The Hidden Palace (eventually)...
I'm super happy, I really loved the first book and had never heard of it before this.

The library finally has the Hidden Palace for me, so it's now on my Kindle and hope to read it in the next couple weeks.
 
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