Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by Edward Lee
Published by Leisure Books
For those who do not know, a “Golem” is a creature from Jewish folklore that is created from clay and given life by Kabbalist mystics. Once created, the beasts are nearly unstoppable, and will continue on its mission until it is completed. The “Golem” in Edward Lee’s novel of the same name is just such a creature, but with a much more demented and brutal streak, preferring to rip the arms and legs off victims and literally cramming them down their throats. It’s just the sort of thing to make a person smile while reading.
The story begins with Seth and Judy, two lovers who met in rehab, purchasing a house. Actually, the story begins with a retelling of a horrible tragedy that occurred in 1880 in which a paddleboat was sunk after a psychotic woman killed everyone onboard. But I digress. That’s really all I can tell about the plot without giving the whole darned thing away.
Lee flexes his muscles a bit with this novel from the get-go. The opening scene, in 1880, is wonderfully crafted, and will catch the reader’s attention and not let it go until just after the middle of the book. Lee has taken an old Jewish legend and brought it out as history, giving the entire story an eerily authentic feel. From the scenes of brutal dismemberment, rape, sex, and drug use, Lee manages to hook the reader like few other can. It makes the book incredibly hard to put down. His vivid descriptions and well-developed characters serve to mesmerize, dragging the reader down a path of chaos and bloody mayhem.
If The Golem has any shortcomings, they are few. The first comes in the form of Judy, the former college professor turned rehabbed crack addict. A good portion of the book is spent with her telling details about pretty much every subject. Rather than let the reader find out for themselves or dropping clues, Judy gives all the exposition a person could need. While it’s true, people like this do exist, they’re damned annoying. The only other let-down is minor, in that there is a space of maybe twenty or thirty pages where the reader looses interest. Lee more than makes up for it, though, by sandwiching it between a stomach-churning ending and a heart-rending end.
The bottom line is The Golem is good. It’s damned good. It’s the kind of book around which nightmares are built.
4 out of 5
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