One of the darkest and bloodiest stories of all time comes not from a medieval battlefield but from inside one of the most opulent palaces ever built. The strategies come not from men eager to extend their influence, but from women bent on exercising their wit and prowess in a kingdom not their own. Treason and murder are fair game. Marriage is manipulation, a means to an end. Children are the enemy. And the days of the House of David are numbered-unless one woman can find the strength to conquer them all.
This book really appealed to me because it took a Bible story that is not well known and brought it to life. I actually did not know much about Athaliah other than a small blurb in my children's bible when I was growing up. We didn't talk at all about her in Sunday School. For that matter, we barely mentioned Joash, other than the fact that he was really young when he became king. Pretty much this part of the Old Testament seemed to be taboo in Southern Baptist children's programs. Therefore this book brought to life a part of the Bible I didn't know much about at all.
Usually I'm a bit wary with Biblical fiction, not because of the liberties it takes with the characters, but because of the historical inaccuracies that some authors use to create their stories. My opinion of using Bible characters in stories is that I don't mind it because while I personally see the Bible as the word of God, I also see it as a historical text. As with any historical text or event becoming fiction, the key is to use good research and checking facts and not to make your characters do things that they would not have done during that time period.
I felt that this book portrayed both historical and Biblical information well. The reader learns about what was going on during the time period in terms of royal lifestyle as well as the religious movements of the time period. I had always wondered how the WIFE of the king was able to crown herself ruler even though there had been heirs to the throne alive at the time. Another aspect I had not expected was to actually feel sorry for Athaliah due to her background circumstances.
There are some violent scenes that might be a bit graphic for normal Christian fiction readers but if you've read any mainstream thriller, it is nothing new. Overall I did enjoy this book. I felt like I learned a lot and was entertained at the same time. I'm really sad though that the rest of the books in the trilogy never got released. It is always disappointing to pick up what is touted as the first book in a new series and then the other books don't get published. I would have liked to have read what else would have afflicted the royal family. Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett is published by NavPress (2006)