When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king's heart and a queen's crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king's permission to exterminate all Jews--young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people...and bind her husband's heart.
Esther marks bestselling author Angela Hunt's return to biblical fiction. In each novel she explores an example of a Hebrew Old Testament tob woman: a woman whose physical beauty influences those around her--and can change the course of history.
My Review: I have read several fictional retellings of the story of Esther before. But I believe that Angela Hunt’s version is my favorite. It was realistic, and showed me certain aspects of the story of Esther that I had never before thought about.
The characters were very real. Perhaps I like this version so much because Esther feels so human. The way she thought, and spoke, and what she did, all conveyed exactly how ordinary a person she was. She had hopes and dreams and flaws and doubts the same as any other person. She wasn’t gifted with anything different than the ordinary woman, save her beauty. God can use—and almost always will use—just ordinary people, whom He has given talent enough to fulfill His will in extraordinary situations.
King Xerxes was portrayed as a deeply troubled, perhaps slightly disturbed man. The author built his character from the historical accounts of Herodotus. The king would often go into deep depression for days, weeks, and even months. But at other times he would go on an extreme high. His moods were fickle, his heart sometimes as well. He acted with extreme foolishness sometimes, out of fear or doubt in himself. He was a complex man of history. I believe the author created a very realistic version of him.
I would not recommend this book for younger readers. There was no inappropriate content, but what is discussed is more suited for adults. There is also a very bloody, cruel scene described that would particularly disturb younger readers.
I really enjoyed Angela Hunt’s version of Esther. I believe that the fictional part of the book probably is very close to what actually happened. I also enjoyed how the author used first person from two people’s point of view instead of only Esther’s point of view. It made the book move along more quickly.
I give Esther 4 out of 5 stars.
**I received a review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, for my honest opinion, which I have given. The opinions expressed in this novel are mine and mine alone.**