Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.
But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.
Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.
(This review is posted today in conjunction with a blog tour. See what others are saying about this book today.)
It’s getting increasingly difficult to write a review on a new Tracy Higley book. What can I say that I’ve not said about one of her previous novels? Once again, she has written a “Wow!” book. It has everything I’ve come to expect from her. There’s drama, suspicion, intrigue, a woman in a danger who isn’t Jewish or Christian and, yes, even a bit of romance. The descriptions of the royal palaces in The Queen’s Handmaid are written in such a way that you can imagine yourself walking down their stone corridors. These weren’t places for the faint-hearted either. The servants would jostle for supremacy and would easily betray each other if it meant their survival. You never knew who could be listening in to your conversation or watching your actions. Within the opening chapters of The Queen’s Handmaid, we see what happens to a servant who speaks rashly in front of Cleopatra.
Tracy Higley does a lot of historical and archeological research for each of her novels and expertly weaves in her fictional characters with those who existed and the events surrounding them. If we know anything about Herod the Great, it’s that he had several family members executed. History dictated Mariamme’s fate in this novel, but what would that mean for the fictional Lydia? How close would she come to facing Herod’s wrath and the evil of his sister, Salome? I had to keep reading to find out. You’ll want to do the same.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse for my complimentary copy of The Queen’s Handmaid, which I received in exchange for an honest review to be posted during a blog tour.
Have you read The Queen’s Handmaid? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 18 March 2014
Page Count: 400