In the Arms of Immortals by Ginger Garrett

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.

In the Arms of Immortals: A Novel of Darkness and Light by Ginger Garrett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

In 1347, a sweeping plague blindsides the people in a Sicilian village. The crisis has varied impacts on three different women, including one woman from another place and time in In the Arms of Immortals by author Ginger Garrett.

First off, when I bought this book earlier this year, I had no idea what time in history I’d be living in when I read it. That’s all I’ll vaguely say about that. But after reading the first supernatural, split timeline/historical novel in the Chronicles of the Scribe series, I knew I wanted to read this second one.

Considering the author and the subject matter, I was prepared for something dark and gritty. Indeed, this novel is one of the darkest I’ve ever read of my own accord. It’s violent. Tragic. Gruesome. Chaotic. In fact, the dramatic, choppy chaos that makes it hard to get a grip on the plot or characters in this book had me toying with the idea of leaving the novel unfinished.

Still, I knew there had to be a point this author would ultimately get at. Because I was reading through the chaos pretty fast, I held on to get to the point of it all.

And I found the point to be a worthy one, regarding a question many people ask in life—a question that I myself tend to leave alone because it’s often the wrong question to ask or to attempt to answer.

Vague again, I know. But if you can handle wading through an inky black ChristFic story to reach a challenging spark of light in the end, you may want to check this one out.

______________

Here’s my review of Book One in the Chronicles of the Scribe series, In the Shadow of Lions.

 

In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett

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.

In the Shadow of Lions: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Ginger Garrett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Henry VIII is on the throne, and a mysterious book is wreaking havoc in Europe and the Church. Two women, Rose and Anne, and their guardian angels are steeped in the midst of this momentous unrest…In the Shadow of Lions by author Ginger Garrett.

While perhaps anyone familiar with today’s historical fiction can tell who the woman on the book cover is with one glance, and this first novel in the Chronicles of the Scribe series is called “A novel of Anne Boleyn,” I wouldn’t call it that. Although she is a key player in this story, Anne isn’t exactly set up as the key player.

This tale with bold supernatural elements casts Anne in a rather different light than is usual for her in popular culture. But even with her devoutness in this account, she isn’t a perfect saint who knows it all, and this isn’t a sweet novel. Though sensual at times, it isn’t romantic. It’s gruesome and tragic, a depiction of a hellish period in Christendom.

I’ll admit I nearly gave up on this book after the first third of it, as I felt it spent too long speaking in riddles, and the choppy development made it hard for me to get a good grip on and to feel for the characters, who are each in some kind of agony. For all their belief in a Prince of Peace, no one is at peace here.

Still, novels that are so marinated in historical flavor are hard for me to turn down, and I do enjoy this author’s deft, sharp, ironic style, even when it’s haunting. Sometimes I do need something on the darker side, and while it isn’t pretty, much of this novel’s relevance is in its illustration of how ugly and base “the faith” can become in the hands of self-serving people.

So much religion. So much “holiness.” So much judgment. So much profession of Christ accompanied by little to no real love.

Have we or have we not learned from history?

______________

Here’s my review of Book Two in the Chronicles of the Scribe series, In the Arms of Immortals.

 

Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett

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.

Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“We are all destroyed, everyone, in our lifetime, but few will rebuild. You must redeem your suffering, Esther.”

Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by author Ginger Garrett is the fourth novel I’ve read based on the biblical book of Esther. After reading the story however many times in the Bible, enjoying three other novels, and watching four different film adaptations, yes, I’m still intrigued.

Even so, with a story that’s been retold so many times, in order for me to really get into a new-to-me retelling, it has to give me something the previous retellings haven’t given me already.

On that score, this novel delivered for me.

No, it’s not a romance novel, with King Xerxes painted as a shining romantic hero. And no, this book isn’t a rags-to-riches fairytale full of prettiness that ties everything up with a Happily Ever After bow at the end.

Nah.

This novel’s strength is in the way it tackles difficult, sacred tension. How it paints a bold but deft picture of schemes, depression, injustice, murder, and suicide in a realm of royalty and excess. How it addresses so many ironies, not the least of which is the pairing of power and imprisonment.

How it depicts the conflicting emotions of a young Jewish woman stolen from the life she loved. Stolen by a king.

Granted, I wasn’t too impressed with Esther’s voice in the first few chapters. (Perhaps it’s a reflection of her initial immaturity.) And given that she tells her story in diary entries, the plot development is choppy at times, and Esther’s limited vantage point hampers the development of some other characters. (For instance, seeing Haman from an additional perspective might have made his personality and villainy more convincing.)

Nevertheless, this substantive account of a woman in an impossible situation, using what resources she can to save her people, and even to empower women…

It’s beautiful. Inspiring. Timely, timeless—for such a time…

The king has asked for a whore; I will show him a queen.

______________

The latest cover of Chosen is pictured below, along with the rest of the Lost Loves of the Bible series.