If you love historical Christian fiction, then Isle of Shadows, by Tracy L. Higley, is another book to definitely add to your collection and read over a couple of chilly nights, sitting by the fire or enjoying a cup of tea. I know that I am busy adding all Higley’s books to my shelves and I was very excited to read Isle of Shadows, her newest release after Garden of Madness that I also read this year (and loved).
Actually released previously in 2008 as Shadow of Colossus, Higley edited and revised the version for new release due to her increasing knowledge of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World she gained through travels and research. As she decided to continue the series about the ancient wonders (this first and current book surrounds the statue of Colossus) and felt she had come a long way in perfecting her writing craft, she felt she could make the book even better.
I hadn’t read the book in its former version as the first in her series, but I loved this version of Isle of Shadows for its easy and light prose, the mystery component, the growing romance, and the setting–which was the decadent Rhodes, circa the 227 BC, during a time that the Jewish people were fighting for their rights, lands, and their very existence as humans, rather than slaves. The Greeks ruled by democracy and the in-fighting for political gain was prominent.
Tessa, the main character, is a hetaera (an educated and beautiful professional female companion) to Glaucus, one of the ten army leaders who direct politics on Rhodes. The life of being a courtesan is not for Tessa, even though she is widely admired for her beauty and prestige. She longs to be truly free from this life which she considers slavery. Just as she begins to devise a plan to flee, her master has an accident. A cover-up ensues with help of members of the household staff, family, and a stranger named Nikos who shows up mysteriously saying he’d like a position in the staff.
Nikos becomes Tessa’s partner in crime as they fend of the other leaders who are vying for position and leveraging the Jewish issue on Rhodes (the Greeks don’t want them integrated). But who is Nikos really? He seems more than a common servant. Tessa battles twists and turns, action, and adventure during the novel, but also grows tremendously as a woman. Can her once cemented soul really open to love again? Can she be loved by the One True God like these caring Jews present? Her independent nature serves her well, but will some of her walls be broken down to let others in to her heart?
I enjoy Higley’s books for their historical component as well as for their character development. She really knows how to write strong female lead characters who are torn by their past, making them angry and resentful, and placing other characters in their path that offer testimony to allow their barriers to be broken and their hearts to be mended.
Higley’s books, and this series, really intrigue me for their historical and archeological references and time periods. However, the novels end up tugging at my heart-strings and showing me how God’s grace works too. I love how her strong, independent women fall slowly in love with tender-hearted, yet honorable men, who always know how to treat them right.
About the book, Isle of Shadows~
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.
About the Author, Tracy L. Higley~
From her earliest childhood, there was nothing Tracy loved better than stepping into another world between the pages of a book. From dragons and knights, to the wonders of Narnia, that passion has never abated, and to Tracy, opening any novel is like stepping again through the wardrobe, into the thrilling unknown. With every book she writes, she wants to open a door like that, and invite readers to be transported with her into a place that captivates.
Tracy started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. After attending Philadelphia Biblical University, she earned a B.A. in English Literature at Rowan University. She then spent ten years writing drama presentations for church ministry.
A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past.
She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy to research her novels, and looks forward to more travel as her writing continues. On Tracy’s website, www.tracyhigley.com, you can follow along with her on her travels and adventures.
Tracy is thrilled to bring readers adventures set in the ancient past, and it’s her hope that in escaping with her, readers will feel they’ve walked through these deserts, explored ruins, felt the white sand and blue sea under their feet, and met with the Redeeming God who is sovereign over the entire drama of human history.
I was given a copy of Isle of Shadows by Thomas Nelson publishers in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.