Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Exiled from Jerusalem. Bound to slavery in Babylon. And holding secrets that shackle her to shame. Belili has spent her long life surviving under the rule of Babylonian kings. But when her husband, Daniel, faces a fateful test in faithfulness to their God, Belili will have to decide between secrets and truth in Of Fire and Lions by author Mesu Andrews.
Although I’m not the quickest to jump at Biblical Fiction these days, this novel became a must-read for me from the moment I first heard about it. Yes, the obvious references in the title to the legendary fiery furnace and the lions’ den were a major factor, but it would also take some colossal kind of stubbornness for me to resist the book cover.
I mean, come on—a woman in vibrant red, sweeping her lengthy, soaring garment over the head of a lion with smoldering eyes and a mane ablaze with flames? How much more vivid artistry and dramatic allusion can you harmoniously fit into a book cover image?
So, yes, the immediate thematic presentation enticed me to read the novel, and Andrews is no novice when it comes to this genre. She illustrates so much in this dense story, including political intrigue and peril in the Babylonian court; the toll that untruths and bitterness can take on a family; life before and after the height of spiritual pinnacles; and some of the tragic irony of fulfilled prophecy.
Now, for much of the book, I had trouble following and connecting with the characters emotionally. With so many events (and years) to cover, the shifts from one incident to the next, and the character and emotional development within those shifts, felt choppy to me in a lot of places. Once I did get into the emotional flow later in the story, it almost became too depressing for me.
But the faith narrative of flawed people here is compelling, and the climax is powerful. If you’re a fan of Biblical ChristFic, this novel is one you won’t want to pass up.