Angela Hunt has authored over 100 books which span a myriad of genres, but for her latest novel she returns again to the Old Testament. Having won RITA awards, Christy Awards, and more, Hunt is a well respected and honored author, who doubtlessly feels the pressure to always deliver a book that will again wow readers. She has delivered just that in ESTHER: ROYAL BEAUTY. Over the years, I've read several other novelizations of Hadassah's (Esther) story and even watched a movie version. Each interpretation presented a different perspective and sent me back to the Book of Esther for original details. I wasn't sure that there was anything new Hunt could present and still stay close to the Biblical version, but I was wrong. This version is told from two viewpoints and two viewpoints only. Hadassah who later takes the name Esther to conceal her Jewish identity is a primary narrator. You might expect Hunt to portray her as a dutiful, quiet Jewish girl, and she is, but she is also a young teen easily intrigued by the showy life of the king and his court. She and her nonJewish girlfirend fantasize of marrying a prince and living at court. One gets the flavor of a young modern teen who has been sheltered by loving parents but who feels the pull of what she believes to be a glamorous outside world. Hunt has done a superb job of developing Hadassah's viewpoint from a wide-eyed child through each step of her life. The other narrator was Harbonah, an eunuch who was among King Xerxes's closest personal servants; his vantage point allowed the readers to learn about events that Esther would not have witnessed. He has also known Mordecai, Esther's uncle, for years and so he takes special notice of Hadassah when she is brought to the harem quarters, a captive among many. I found myself enthralled by his own tragic story. At one point he shares with
Esther how he was captured as a boy, and along with more than one hundred others, castrated. As he explains royalty felt that without their manhood, the boys would react like loyal pets, never entertaining thoughts of jealousy, betrayal, or seduction., palace life will take on yet another dark undertone. While Harbonah clearly understands the cruelty done to him, he acknowledges to Esther, that had he not been captured, he would have been dead within months from starvation. Having Harbonah as a narrator we have someone who sees all aspects of King Xerxes-- his military efforts and failures, his dark inner broodings, his extravagant gestures, and the constrictions forced on him by the duties as king.
I highly recommend Angela Hunt's ESTHER: ROYAL BEAUTY; I foresee accolades and awards for this title. I want to thank FAMILY CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORES and NETGALLEY for providing me with a review copy of this title. All opinions are mine.