HADASSAH: One Night with the King
Despite a few glitches, there is much to like about this coauthored novel from Tenney, best known for his nonfiction book The God Chasers , and Olsen, a writer whose work includes screenplays. Esther, queen of Persia, who inspired the eponymous book of the Bible, is a fascinating character whose story lends itself well to a fictional retelling. The novel opens as a contemporary woman named Hadassah receives a letter penned by Esther (also called "Hadassah" and "Star" in the novel) and passed down through her family for generations. The reading of the letter transports the reader back to the Persian Empire (a similar device is used in Bodie and Brock Thoene's Zion Legacy series). Several time periods and points of view make for a slow start, but the pacing picks up when Esther becomes the focus. The dialogue is stiff in places, and some readers will find the use of "G-d" rather than "God" out of reverence rather tiresome. However, from their imaginative fleshing out of Esther's unusual girlhood and preparation for her tryst with the king to the uttering of her famous words, "If I perish, I perish," the authors reinvigorate an age-old story. The sexual tension and violence necessary to the tale are rendered inoffensive for the evangelical Christian market, and a few surprise twists will catch readers familiar with the story off-balance. CBA readers should enjoy this account of one of the Bible's most courageous heroines. (Jan.)
Forecast: Tenney's nonfiction books have sold more than three million copies, so fans will likely gravitate to this debut novel despite the hardcover price. His nonfiction book on Esther , Finding Favor with the King, was published by Bethany House in September.