Saturday, March 9, 2013

Speak Up Saturday– Book Review–Isle of Shadows by Tracy Higley

Speak Up Saturday 
From the Publisher:

Revised and updated from the original, Christy-award finalist Shadow of Colossus.
Enslaved in a World of Money and Power, Tessa Dares to be Free.
Raised as courtesan to wealthy and powerful men, Tessa of Delos serves at the whim of her current patron, the politician Glaucus. After ten years with him, Tessa has abandoned all desire for freedom or love, choosing instead to lock her heart away.
But when Glaucus meets a violent death in his own home, Tessa grasps at a fragile hope. Only she knows of his death. If she can keep it a secret long enough, she can escape.
Tessa throws herself on the mercy of the Greek god Helios, but finds instead unlikely allies in Nikos, a Greek slave, and Simeon, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant. As Simeon introduces her to a God unlike any she has ever known and Nikos begins to stir feelings she had thought long dead, Tessa fights to keep her heart protected.
As an assassination plot comes to light, Tessa must battle for her own freedom—and for those to whom she has begun to open her heart—as forces collide that shatter the island’s peace.

I just finished reading this book, and I haven’t decided exactly what I think of it. Overall, I guess I would say that I enjoyed it. I find that I enjoy historical fiction, especially well-written and well-researched historical fiction. So, let me tell you the things that I liked about it first before I tell you the things that I didn’t like.
I really liked the look into the society of ancient Greece. I find that part of history fascinatingly similar and different from our culture today, and Ms. Higley draws those things out nicely. I felt that it was a well researched book, and that was confirmed for me in the end pages of the book when she stated that she has been to Rhodes, where the story is set, twice in order to really get a feel for the place as she was writing the story. In fact, you can go to her website to see pictures from her adventures there.
I also thought the character development was decent and the interaction between characters was mostly well played. Those of the main characters was excellent, with the romance not being too pronounced but still being real and relevant. I do not enjoy reading romance books, but I do like it when a good book has a bit of romance thrown in, and this book had exactly that.
As for the things that I did not like, there were 2. The first was the length. It wasn’t too terribly wordy, but I feel that the story could have been told more succinctly with just as much effect. But, historical fiction tends toward lengthy descriptions due to explaining the culture and the location, so this wasn’t a huge deal.
What really did it for me, though, was the Christian element. I felt it was very forced. I understand that it would be difficult to squeeze it into a book that was written about “the dark times between the Old and New Testaments”, as she put it in the afterword, but if it was going to be that hard, why do it at all? Or why not develop the characters of Simeon and his family more and have them be more central? I didn’t like the way that Tessa came to faith in the One God in the span of a few short pages, but I am very glad that the story came back around to that. When we initially meet Simeon’s family and Tessa and Nikos spend time with them, it was very pleasant enjoyable, I just wish there had been more time spent on that.
Again, though, I enjoyed this book overall and think that anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction would enjoy it. I think that it tends to be more of a “girl” book, but if you’re a guy that likes historical Greece fiction, then you might enjoy it too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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