Angela Hunt’s masterfully written biblical fiction always exceeds my expectations. As we step into the pages of the story, we are carried back in time to Israel before the birth of Jesus, and can see, hear, smell, taste, and almost touch the ancient setting that envelops us. Ms. Hunt’s newest novel is just as incredible (and based on historical fact) as her previous works, and is a continuation of her “Silent Years” series. “Jerusalem’s Queen: A Novel of Salome Alexandra” is the story of one of Judea’s greatest rulers, who lived in the time period between the writing of the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact, Salome Alexandra’s reign ended only a few years before the Messiah was born, and her peaceful influence over Jerusalem (after a time of unrest and horrific atrocities from the leaders of the nation) paved the way for Jesus’ lifetime.
As with several Angela Hunt books I’ve read, this story is told from two perspectives: that of Salome Alexandra (or ‘Shelamzion’, as she is fondly called); and her young Egyptian handmaid, Kissa. The intertwining story as these two women grow from little girls to middle-aged women with enormous cares on their shoulders is a fascinating and emotional one, filled with unexpected twists and turns. At times the historical accuracy of the novel, such as the jealous murders between royal family members and the atrocities committed by the leaders – the High Priests – of Jerusalem, are difficult to read about, but they are revealed with discretion by the author. One of the most fascinating elements of the story occurred as Salome Alexandra studied the Torah and strove to uncover it’s meaning about the Messiah whom HaShem would soon be sending. For us as readers today, these prophesies and the miracle of God’s plan are showcased in a beautiful, big-picture way that perhaps we sometimes forget to consider.
Whether you are a dedicated fan of biblical fiction, or you’ve never read the genre but would like to give it a try, I highly encourage you to pick up “Jerusalem’s Queen”. It is not an easy story to read, for the horrific acts of history are not glossed over or covered up, but the end reward is a compelling, thought-provoking, and emotional story that will stay with you long after you reach the final page. I can’t wait to discover what person from biblical literature Angela Hunt chooses to bring to life (through fiction) next!
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”