I’m trying to get caught up on my reviews dear friends, can you tell? LOL. Sometimes I finish a book and before you know it, days or weeks have gone by and I still haven’t put my thoughts in print. Time goes by fast, and I typically don’t write my review before starting a new book. I just keep reading – not sure if that is good or bad.
Before I get to my review of the amazingly written Of Fire and Lions, I just have to say how biblical fiction is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I cannot imagine how much time and energy these authors put into their books. It’s one thing to write historical fiction, but biblical fiction? I can’t imagine the amount of scrutiny they must be under. I applaud authors, especially Mesu, who have the talent to make the bible come alive, while staying true to God’s word.
About the Book
Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she’d perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Now, as Daniel’s wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she’s safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear–until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar’s palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili’s tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?
Ultimately, Yahweh’s sovereign hand guides Jerusalem’s captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.
Purchase your copy here.
Mesu Andrews has the ability to take a bible story that we are all familiar with and love, more than one actually, and make it come to life right before our eyes. Truly, I could see this book play out on the stage of the Sight and Sound Theater. It took me back to the days of Daniel, and offered such an interesting point of view from Belili. I don’t think I really thought of her story when reading my bible before, but this book has opened my eyes to it. And yes, I do realize that this book if fictional. However, it challenged me to look in my bible, see exactly what it said about Belili, and try to learn more about her. It also allowed me to use my imagination a little in what times truly were like in Daniel’s time. Can you imagine having to pretty much hide your faith? Can you imagine sent to a fiery furnace, or a lion’s den simply because you stood up for God?
Yes, we read these two stories in the bible. Yes we are in awe of the courage these young men had. But Andrews brings you so much more than that. You see even more that they could have gone through. The research is so evident in each and every sentence you read. I felt like I was on some amazing journey where I get to jump in the bible and live there for awhile, kind of like the kids in The Magic Tree House. It’s so real, so vivid. I would find it very hard to believe that someone could read this book and not feel like they were right there next to Daniel, or Belili.
I will also say this – there were some things I read that I did not recall reading in the bible. So I looked it up. I wanted to see if it was real, or if it was just an addition to the story to make it what it is – fictional. And truthfully there was a little bit of both. I think people get hung up on the fact that biblical fiction has to be 100% accurate – well I disagree. It isn’t there to teach us, although I can say that I learned A LOT in reading this. It’s there to open our eyes and minds to the things people could have faced. It’s there to make us want to search the truths in our bible and bring us closer to the One who created authors in the first place!
Friends, if you have never read a biblical fiction book before, I encourage you to give this one a try. Mesu Andrews will transform you, challenge you, encourage you, and send you on a bible hunting mission. This is a story that will stick with me for years, and I can see myself rereading this many times. Read it alone. Read it with family members. Read it with a church group or book club. Just read it. I promise you won’t regret it!!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
Mesu grew up with a variegated Christian heritage. With grandparents from the Pilgrim Holiness, Nazarene, and Wesleyan Churches, her dad was a Quaker and mom charismatic. As you might imagine, God was a central figure in most family discussions, but theology was a battlefield and Scripture the weapon. As a rebellious teenager, Mesu rejected God and His Word, but discovered Jesus as a life-transforming Savior through the changed life of an old friend.
The desire for God’s Word exploded with her new commitment, but devotional time was scarce due to the demands of a young wife and mother. So Mesu scoured the only two theology books available–children’s Bible stories and her Bible. The stories she read to her daughters at night pointed her to the Bible passages she studied all day. She became an avid student of God’s Word, searching historical and cultural settings as well as ancient texts and original languages.
Mesu and her husband Roy have raised those two daughters and now enjoy a tribe of grandkids, who get to hear those same Bible stories. Mesu’s love for God’s Word has never waned. She now writes biblical novels, rich with spiritual insight learned through fascinating discoveries in deep historical research.
Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell)–the story of Job and the women who loved him–won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year in the Debut Author Category. Her subsequent novels have released with high praise, shedding light on some of the shadowy women of Scripture. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) tells the story of the beloved shepherdess in King Solomon’s Song of Solomon. Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) tells the story of Hosea and Gomer and is the final stand-alone novel in the Treasures of His Love Series. Her fourth novel, In the Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) tells the fascinating story of Queen Athaliah and the courageous Princess Jehosheba.
The Treasures of the Nile series (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015-16) included The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam and spanned Moses’ life from birth to the Exodus. Her 2017 release, Isaiah’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah), explores the life and ministry of the prophet Isaiah and the tumultuous days of Judah under the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah but focuses on the woman Hephzibah–a fascinating character in Jewish legends.
Mesu writes in their log cabin tucked away in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Her best friend is an American Staffordshire Terrier named Zeke, who keeps her company on long writing days. Zeke also enjoys watching movies, long walks in the woods, and sitting by the fireplace on rainy days.