Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review :: Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt

Esther: Royal Beauty is a new novel in the Dangerous Beauty Novel series by Angela Hunt. I have read books by Angela Hunt in the past, so I was interested in reviewing this novel. 

Esther: Royal Beauty is based on the biblical story from the book of Esther. The chapters in Esther: Royal Beauty are either told from the perspective of Hadassah (Esther) or Harbonah (a fictional character - the king's eunuch servant). It wasn't clearly stated, but Harbonah's character refers to writing a couple times which made it sound like maybe these were supposed to be written chronicles from himself and Esther.
I struggled with a few things in reading Esther: Royal Beauty:
First of all, it gives hopes and dreams to Esther that we aren't told about in the Bible. Yes, I understand that in re-telling the story as a story the author is going to form opinions and perspectives from each character, but Esther's character wasn't what I was expecting. She seemed to despise her Jewish upbringing and dreamed of getting away from it all, in whatever manner necessary (despite her conservative upbringing). 

Second, I felt like this book focused too much on castration (eunuchs) and sex (concubines/harem/king). Although it was not graphic and was delicately handled compared to so many other books out there, it was just referenced more than necessary in my opinion. 

I had more concerns until I read the author's note at the end of the novel. One thing Angela Hunt does well is research her novels thoroughly. There is a substantial reference list at the end of Esther: Royal Beauty (which you normally wouldn't find in a novel at all) and the author's note directly acknowledges some of the concerns I had about the story. After reading the author's note I felt like I had a better understanding of the author's perspective, so it might be good to read this before reading the novel (but it may have a couple small spoilers if read before the novel). 

As is mentioned in the author's note, there are many events mentioned in the novel which were either historically accurate (according to the author's research) or historically based (meaning they were likely to happen, but not necessarily fact). The events in Esther: Royal Beauty are both based on the biblical account and extra-biblical historical information.

Although I did enjoy reading Esther: Royal Beauty, it isn't among my top favorite Angela Hunt novels. Still, it was interesting to read. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

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