Zimrah, Dream Singer by Susan Valles

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 for an honest review.

Zimrah Dream SingerZimrah, Dream Singer by Susan Valles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Though Zimrah has always been treated well by her Jewish master, the people of Chasah ridicule and reject her for being a “favored slave” who looks so different, and she suffers in silence many nights in the presence of unseen enemies. She doesn’t know how much her discovery of a musical instrument, and the arrival of a Roman soldier, will change her life in Zimrah, Dream Singer by author Susan Valles.

I couldn’t pass up this book after seeing its stunning cover: the sunrise, the city, the lyre, and the woman with a hint of mystery, seamlessly blended into it all. The image gives a remarkable sense of time, place, and atmosphere, as does the author’s fluid style, revealing the unusual life of a troubled but gifted young woman. It’s as if her journey isn’t just a story but a song, verses of darkness and pain that give all the more significance to the light that breaks through and makes the music a love song.

This is a weighty and deeply spiritual book, some of it reminding me of This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti and Paradise Lost by John Milton. While I was captured by the overall story here, it seemed like it was put on pause in places for commentary that didn’t quite blend into a novel flow and that was sometimes redundant. I also think the story could have benefited from more subtlety at points, trusting the reader’s discernment, as sometimes it’s more impactful for a reader to catch or interpret what a story doesn’t dwell upon or directly spell out.

Still, this is a lovely illustration of the trying but ultimately triumphant awakening of a worshipper. I’d recommend it to anyone who’ll appreciate a tale of spiritual battles, unlikely romance, and lives transformed by love.


Zimrah’s journey continues in Zimrah Dream Walker.


Palace of Darkness by Tracy L. Higley


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. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Palace of DarknessPalace of Darkness: A Novel of Petra by Tracy L. Higley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

And yet she felt a deeper peace underlying the concerns, a peace that whispered, All is well, no matter what happened.

Palace of Darkness by Tracy L. Higley is more than a historical fiction novel about a woman named Cassia and the early Church. The book’s supernatural elements remind me of a Frank Peretti read.

Cassia’s journey to that “all is well, no matter what happens” place is by no means a straight shot, but it’s a process full of ups and downs, twists and turns as this destitute, single mother encounters followers of the Way (Christians) in ancient Petra. The extent of Cassia’s physical fierceness is an element I didn’t anticipate; she springs into admirable action when her son is in danger, even while she has much to learn about what it means to be strong and how strength and love can work together.

Hagiru, the queen of Petra and chief presider over the city’s darkness, is a whole different kind of fierceness personified. Her character is just kept from being too over-the-top by what she’s gone through as a woman that has led to her sinister state. As there’s a battle to be fought between darkness and light on more than one level, Higley paints an intriguing picture of external power coinciding with internal power and how grace and compassion can be given a place even on the brink between life and death, in the midst of one’s stormiest fight. The space made for compassion is what I found most compelling about this novel.

“The love you have always longed for is here… The One God seeks to save that which is lost.”