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I want to share a book that delighted me with its beautiful storytelling, historical detail, and deeply Biblical message.
From the Back Cover:
The Hebrews are a divided nation. Israel in the north – ten tribes strong – has bowed to pagan worship. In Judah’s two tribes, an evil king mocks King David’s legacy while a remnant of Yahweh’s faithful cling desperately to their one true God.
Caught in the middle of the warring is an orphaned girl named Ishma – meaning “desolation.” Her short life already mirrors the name. Yet Yahweh’s plan for her has only just begun.
Ishma enters the prophet Isaiah’s home as a household servant, but her quick mind and lively spirit gain the friendship of Prince Hezekiah. When Isaiah sees their relationship mature, he adopts Ishma, giving her a royal pedigree and a new name. Ishma becomes Hephzibah – “delight of the Lord” – and the desolate captive becomes Judah’s queen.
But loving Hezekiah will require more of Hephzibah than she ever imagined. From Ahaz’s terrifying reign to the Assyrian threat and Isaiah’s own perplexing prophecies – Zibah remains trapped by fear, facing an uncertain future. Will palace life lead to freedom from her past? Or can she trust everything to the only One who gives life and delivers both a captive heart and a desperate nation?
Ishma’s story – and, in their turn, each of the characters’ – captured my heart and mind from the first chapter and has still not let them go. Mesu has crafted an exquisite novel of Biblical fiction in Isaiah’s Daughter, fleshing out the narrative of Hezekiah and Isaiah that Scripture gives, hence the “prophets and kings” in the sub-title.
I loved getting to know each character: Ishma/Hephzibah – who developed from a sweet-yet-straightforward little girl into an bold-yet-gentle woman, dedicated to Yahweh; Hezekiah – whose dilemmas felt so applicable to modern life and who by turns frustrated and charmed me as a king whose heart was in the right place, so to speak, but who waffled stubbornly at times, too. Each character felt remarkably full and richly real, as well as rooted thoroughly in their time period.
One of my “dreads” in opening this novel was, how was Isaiah going to be portrayed? Another was, will the Scriptural account be tampered with? Yet the author adhered strongly to the Scriptural account, even when our contemporary mindset might prefer otherwise. This is something I have come to love about Mesu Andrews: Her high, reverent view of Scripture as God’s holy and inspired Word comes through so strongly in how she tells each story. Yet she also portrays the human beings in the story as just that – human beings, with great weaknesses, whose strength to overcome can come from God alone.
Other things I loved:
the historical details regarding idol worship gave an excellent context for the Biblical account
the subplot of Ishma’s friend Yaira ~ so beautiful
the symbolism of Ishma’s doves and their nesting ~ I love doves (mourning ones, in particular), so this part was such a delight for me.
the way Mesu draws attention to the way that prophecies can have multiple fulfillments and/or not be fulfilled in the time/place we thought they would be, yet God still keeps His Word.
Find it HERE.
Grace and peace,
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was in no way required to provide a positive review.
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