Tag Archives: Tracy L. Higley

Isle of Shadows, by Tracy L. Higley, Showcases Historical Intrigue in Ancient Rhodes

_240_360_Book_728_coverIf 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~

timthumbFrom 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.

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I was given a copy of Isle of Shadows by Thomas Nelson publishers in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley Shines Light into World of Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Reading Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley was like going on an amazing expedition to the past, circa Babylon 563 BC, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.  Through Tracy’s writing, I can imagine what it might have been like to have actually lived during this time, whether a poor captive Jew living in the dry dirt and heat in a land they were forced to live in, or the royal family of Babylon living out their days in luxury in a palace with a beautiful, lush seven-tiered garden.  I was totally hooked on this book from the first day!!

The book takes place a year before the King’s death and in the last year of his seven year period of being lost. It weaves historical fact from this time period dealing with Nebuchadnezzar and his struggle to accept God (and that there is just one God) and turn away from the pagan gods of Babylon, as well as creating a fictional story based on the connection between a member of the Royal Family (a fictional daughter Tia) and the captive Jews of that period, specifically Daniel (who we all know), Pedaiah, and Shealtiel.  One of the latter two brothers would become the father of the boy who comes to carry his people out of Babylon. 

Tracy has an amazingly clear writing voice that is smooth and decadent, yet strong and emotional. As a reader, you’ll find yourself immersing into each characters personality and feeling what they feel along each step in their journey.  These characters, many based on historical people from history and The Bible, were so life-like that I became, for example, both endeared to the strength, loyalty and determination of the main character Tia, while also being reviled by the evil ways of some other characters in the book who were trying to usurp the throne (yep, court politics and intrigue never dies no matter what century, culture, country, etc.!).

Ultimately, I would have loved more detail surrounding these Hanging Gardens, once touted as a Seven Wonder of the Ancient World. Yet, hardly any detail is actually known about these gardens in order for them to be written about at length.  Supposedly, the gardens were able to exist in a desert country of total dryness due to a hydraulic system, or maybe a way of loading buckets and watering from top terrace to bottom terrace, that irrigated the foliage with water from the major water source of that area ~ the river Euphrates. Sadly, historians can’t even say with ultimate accuracy that these gardens even existed. However, Tracy gave just enough structural detail in her book that my mind filled in the rest of the visual scenery of the trees, flowers, bushes, and so on itself.  Furthermore, I’m left feeling as I should after reading a good historical fiction book. I’m now feeling as if I want to read and learn more about the ancient civilization of Babylon. I see some research into a good archeology episode on History Channel in my near future!

As a major history buff myself, this historical period is one I haven’t read much on; however, I am a huge fan of history from the Biblical times. This is why I love reading Christian historical fiction especially, because the writers delve into the ancient history of cultures that came before the time period of Christ to give us a glimpse into societies that seemed to have so much intelligence in education, science, nature, construction, writing and more.  I like that Tracy, as most other Christian writers, incorporate romance and magic into their books in a clean manner so that I can just get into the drama of the story. It allows me to feel better recommending it as well. My 73-year-old parents, both avid Christian readers, also enjoyed the book in record fashion.

Tracy did a wonderful job of showing how a culture based on paganism started to lean on the promises of God. She showed in one circumstance, though there are others in ancient history, how Jews have been held captive in a country without riches or political claim and came to quietly show their captors through gentle word, deed, and action how to live life through God.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes Christian fiction, but also to anyone who enjoys a good story wrapped around an ancient civilization. I loved how determined and independent her female character, Tia, was portrayed. History plus strong characters, mixed with superb writing make for a book I can’t put down until I read the last page. I also really enjoyed her after pages full of historical references beyond the story.

About the Book~

The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Daughter…
For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an indulgent palace life.But when her husband dies and a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own newfound freedom is threatened.As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family’s secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband’s brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.In a time when few gave their hearts to Yahweh, one woman must decide if she is willing to risk everything—her possessions, her gods, and her very life—for the Israelite’s one God. Madness, sorcery and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist’s deadly potion, and Tia must dare to risk all – to save the kingdom, and to save herself.

Connect with Tracy Higley~

Tracy also has some great information on her website pertaining to this time period and all the others she writes about. Visit her at www.tracyhigley.com.

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Tracy Higley, Author Bio

A fiction aficionado since grade school, T.L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight.  Now the author of nine historical fiction novels, including the popular Seven Wonders series, Higley isn’t just transporting readers: She’s transporting herself, too.

“My Iifelong interest in history and mythology has taken me to Italy, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, where I’ve gotten to study those ancient cultures in rich detail,” says Higley.  “It’s my desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past, and I figure what better way to do that than to visit the cultures themselves?”

In addition to her accomplished novelist career, Higley is a business entrepreneur and a mother. In fact, for Pompeii, she brought her daughter along with her to Italy for the research trip.

“We gave it to her as a graduation present, not only because Italy is terrific, but because I believe in exposing children to global cultures,” says Higley, who became a student herself again this year. She’s now a graduate student at American Public University, earning her master’s degree in Ancient and Classical Studies.

 When Higley isn’t traveling on research trips, writing her novels, or studying for class, she operates four
online retail companies, including KoolStuff4Kids.com – a family run business that began as a way for her oldest daughter to make some extra money for camp. Today, it is a go-to site for parents, children and teachers all over the country, looking for beads and other kid-friendly craft supplies.

Higley lives with her husband and her three other children (aforementioned daughter now in college) just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information or to read “Tracy’s Travel’s” blog, please visit www.tlhigley.com.

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I received a copy of Garden of Madness from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review of the book.

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