Silencing Rebecca

18 January 2023

Silencing Rebecca
by Nikki Vogel
Published by Thistledown Press
Review by Toby A. Welch
$18.95 ISBN 9781771872263

Silencing Rebecca is a fantastic book that jumps right into the action with a claustrophobic scene that has us questioning what the heck is going on with the main character. The book then goes on to answer that intriguing question.

The story of Rebecca, a teenager transplanted from Toronto to Edmonton, starts predictably. She struggles with the upheaval of moving to a new place and starting at a new school, something most of us can relate to. But things quickly take an unexpected turn when Rebecca morphs into a golem. 

I had no idea what a golem was. I vaguely remembered hearing the word in an X-Files tv show episode. But that was in the late 90s and my memory was drawing a blank. Vogel described a golem as an ugly monster, a mythical clay creature straight out of Jewish folklore. Still feeling clueless, I had to find out more. Enter Google. Stories of golems go back centuries. While golems started in Jewish mythology, they have morphed into popular culture in Dungeons & Dragons, Pokémon, and many more places. Currently golems are considered robots that operate through magic instead of technology, although it is considered taboo by many to use the term golem outside of its Jewish context. Taking it a step further, seeing the pictures of golems on Google Images helped fully clarify it for me. 

Vogel does a phenomenal job making the transformation from Rebecca the human being to Rebecca the golem and back again. The pictures her words draw is a powerful thing, ensuring you can easily imagine Rebecca undergoing each metamorphosis. 

In the back of the book starting on page 209, you’ll find a Glossary of Terms. I wish I had known about it before reaching the end as it would’ve been handy to be able to figure out what was what. For example, a bubba is a grandmother, chrain is a horseradish condiment served during Passover, and a schlub is a do-nothing lazy person. But my loss is your gain as you now know about this awesome resource. 

I have no idea how to categorize this book. It is a coming of age story for sure but it also has touches of horror, fantasy, and dramatic fiction, among other genres. I love that it broke through so many of the categorical walls and that it didn’t matter what genre it was. All that mattered was that it was a fabulous read!

This fantastic fiction read had some captivating dark parts but it ultimately felt like an empowerment story. Despite struggles and hardships, in the end Rebecca morphs not just into a golem but a stronger and wiser woman for everything she has gone through. It’s a moving story that I highly recommend no matter what genre you prefer to read!


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