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On an island teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of The Way.
She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.
But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.
The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of The Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.
When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything—Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.
If I could write a review that simply said, “Wow, Wow, Wow!” I would. But a review requires that I expound a little and so here goes. So Shines the Night takes place almost three hundred years after Tracy Higley’s last book, Isle of Shadows. As an extra bonus, the first four chapters take place in the same location of that book: the island of Rhodes. Daria is looking for a teaching position but, despite her skills, few will take a learned woman seriously. After an incident with Rhodian sorcerers puts her life in danger, Daria is given a temporary hiding place by the trader Lucas. When she saves him from being swindled by Persian traders, Lucas offers her a job as a Persian language tutor in his home city of Ephesus.
Tracy Higley has taken the events described in Acts 19, and deftly woven in elements of romance and murder in order to create a masterpiece. All the major players from that chapter are there, including the exorcist sons of Sceva, the demon they cannot beat, and Demetrius the silversmith. Through her words, I could imagine Paul telling his stories to a group gathered around him, perhaps even while he continued his tent-making. Only the ruins of Ephesus survive now, but I could see the bustling agora (market) as Daria moved through it.
There are other elements to this novel that made it a delight to read. Nine women have been murdered, apparently by a serial killer, and the authorities are looking for the culprit before another woman dies. The Temple of Artemis is where Daria wonders if Artemis really hears prayers and the sacrifices given to her by people wishing to earn her favor, and how is it that the God of the Christians does not demand similar sacrifices? There are descriptions of interactions with demons and sorcerers, enough to make you shiver as you contemplate the hold evil had over these people. We also have a delightful portrayal of Paul who tells Daria, “You are trying to be victorious in your own strength. And no matter how formidable a woman, you are still only human,” as he acknowledges that the power Daria sees is not his own. Finally, there is the climactic scene from Acts where Demetrius riles the crowd into rioting against that small but influential group called The Way.
If you want an idea of what Ephesus is like today, make sure you check out Tracy’s Travels in Ephesus on Tracy Higley’s website. This is an author who does her research extremely thoroughly!
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 12 March 2013
Page Count: 416
Thank you to Thomas Nelson for my free copy of So Shines the Night, which I received in exchange for an honest review.