A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther, by Joan Wolf

book cover“You’ve read it as a Biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story.

The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue and romance.”

The book of Esther is unique. God places a young minority woman in a place to do His work, yet He isn’t mentioned once. There’s a marriage to a king, a threat of death, and a definite villain. This novel has all those elements. So, what’s the problem?

There isn’t one problem with this book, there are several. The first is on page two, where I immediately noticed the author hadn’t done her homework. While the king’s name is the Biblical Ahasuerus, Wolf gives him a brother called Xerxes. Except most theologians and Biblical historians agree that they’re the same person. Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name for Xerxes, just as Esther is the Persian name for Hadassah. Worse is that in her author’s note at the end, she writes, “Historically, there is no king called Ahasuerus.” This is a tricky issue; as Christians, we can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible are true and which are not.

Then, there’s Mordecai. Here, he comes off as thoroughly manipulative and generally not a character to be liked. There is no mention of his time in sackcloth and ashes as described at the beginning of chapter 4. Therefore, Esther finds out about the plot to kill the Jews through someone else. Wolf also gets wrong the relationship between Esther and Mordecai. He was not her uncle; Esther 2:7 describes her as “his uncle’s daughter,” in some translations, and “his cousin” in others. Finally, nowhere in the Bible can I find any indication that Esther was half-Persian as Wolf describes.

To be honest, Wolf changes so much that this novel read more like a plagiarized version of the book of Esther than an interpretation of it. There are more differences than I’ve written about here, and they’re so major they jump out to anyone who has read or studied Esther. Even the most famous line of all is missing. “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

If you want a love story and you’re not bothered by historical or Biblical accuracy, you may enjoy this book. I believe such details are important, especially when it comes to the Bible. I mentioned some of the differences to a couple of ladies at my Bible study group and they were horrified to think that certain details could be ignored. I donate a lot of the books I review to my church’s library. A Reluctant Queen will not be one of those books. In fact, I can’t even recommend this book to any Christian reader, which is why I’m not including the usual links to purchase a copy.

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 384

Publisher’s Product Page

I received my free copy of A Reluctant Queen from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

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