I’m the type of person that has a really, really hard time putting a good novel down once it draws me in. I tend to devour them, often in one sitting. Alas, my current busy household doesn’t allow for extended reading time like that. Instead, I stayed up way, way too late two nights in a row reading Petra: City of Stone, the newest novel by T.L. Higley. I’m so glad B&H Publishing sent it to me for review, because I might have missed it if they hadn’t.
Petra is the first in a new series set in “lost cities”…the next volume, due out in mid-2011, will be set in Pompeii. In Petra, Cassia and her young son, having no where else to turn, travel to the city of Petra in search of the estranged family of the boy’s recently deceased father. When they arrive, the discovery of the family’s true identity puts both Cassia and her son in grave danger. While attempting to rescue her son, Cassia is joined by Julian, another recent transplant to Petra, who fled the Christian persecutions in Rome, and Malik, the elder of the Christian church in Petra, along with many of his flock. Cassia, desperate for love, and Julian, always searching for approval, both have much to learn from the situation and their encounters with Malik and the church. Eventually, Cassia learns that with the love of the one true God, she can love others from a position of strength…God’s strength…rather than need, and Julian realizes that God’s approval, rather than men’s, is all he needs.
The book is an engaging blend of history, adventure, suspense, romance, and intense spiritual warfare. The ancient city of Petra comes alive under Ms. Higley’s skillful pen. She obviously did her research, and has even more background and historical information available at her website. The characters are well-developed, effortlessly drawing the reader into the story. I loved the portrayal of the church in the early second century. It’s easy to take for granted the relative freedom we have here and now to practice our faith. These believers (along with many others right down to the present day) risked their very lives just by being identified as followers of “The Way” and had to have an incredible trust in and reliance on God. I love how Malik instructs his flock to “love until they ask why”, even in the face of opposition and persecution. We can all learn from their example.
I highly recommend Petra: City of Stone. It’s an incredibly enjoyable read, especially if you like historical fiction in the same vein as the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. You can even read the first three chapters online to see what you think. The Dancer, my oldest daughter, is reading it now and loving it. It’s perfect since she’s studying ancient cultures this year! I’ve already ordered two of Ms. Higley’s previous titles, from her series on the Seven Wonders, to check out while we wait for the next installment in this new series.
Here’s the video trailer for the book:
Thanks so much to Julie Gwinn at B&H Publishing for sending a review copy to me!