cover image Poisoned Honey: A Story of Mary Magdalene

Poisoned Honey: A Story of Mary Magdalene

Beatrice Gormley, . . Knopf, $16.99 (306pp) ISBN 978-0-375-85207-7

As she did in Salome (2007), Gormley crafts a gripping reimagining of a biblical figure, this time Jesus' disciple, Mary Magdalene. The author brings to life the culture of first-century Palestine, skillfully exploring the impact of family obligations, gender roles, business practices, and Jewish/Gentile religious customs on a young woman's decisions. After the prophet Miryam tells 13-year old Mari in a vision, “you are consecrated to a higher purpose,” Mari convinces herself she can obey her spiritual calling by submitting to an arranged marriage. But when fever takes the lives of her father and her fiancé, Mari becomes dependent on less benevolent men and is faced with bitter choices. Gormley's portrayal of Mari's gradual possession by evil spirits proves both convincing and terrifying, as demons force her to alienate herself from family and friends, setting the stage for a climactic miracle of deliverance. Gormley creates a memorable portrait of this famous but often misunderstood character, along with compelling characterizations of Matthew the tax collector and Jesus, making this book an important contribution to the genre of biblically based fiction. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)