If you love Biblical fiction, this is the must-read of must-reads. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of Biblical fiction, I would strongly recommend reading this book because it is an utterly magnificent read. For starters, what regular Sunday school attendee cannot recall being enthralled by the stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo in the fiery furnace or Daniel in the lion’s den? You can multiply that enthrallment by ten when these events play out in this book. And yet the well-known Biblical stories associated with Daniel are only a part of what made this such a memorable read.
At its emotional heart, this is the story of Daniel’s (fictional) wife, Belili. (In her historical notes, the author explains the research that led her to conclude that Daniel may not have been a eunuch in the way many have assumed.) And it was a gripping read not only because of the story it told but also because of the way it unfolded.
The reader is introduced to Daniel and Belili in the later stage of their lives, on the night of Belshazzar’s feast—a night when everything is about to change for them and for Babylon. Surrounded as they are by children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren, it’s clear there is family tension, and as Cyrus’s forces take over Babylon, it’s clear that a whole lot of secrets from Belili’s past are about to come to light.
From there, the reader is taken all the way back to the day when eleven-year-old Abigail (Belili’s Hebrew name) is taken as a captive to Babylon and meets Daniel and his three friends. Already having met Daniel and Belili at a much later point in their lives heightened the anticipation and the tension as their story unfolded along an unexpected path, but also gave a measure of reassurance that made the tension a little easier to bear—a very little! As the story progressed, the back and forth between the “present day” and the past was perfectly timed for maximum story impact.
Through it all, the reader follows the story of a woman who struggles to hold on to faith in a God who seems to have turned His back on her. It is a story of reconciliation, restoration, and redemption, and a powerful reminder that God works His sovereign purpose in everything. Whatever you do, don’t pass up an opportunity to read this book!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.