I was in the mood for some historical fiction so I decided to pick up Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews. This book is the first in the Prophets and Kings series. Andrews is a Christian historical fiction author. I’ve read a a few of her books in the past and enjoyed them but I wouldn’t say that they were stand out favorites. Unfortunately, I feel the same way about this one so let’s talk about it. This review will have spoilers.
In this epic Biblical narrative, ideal for fans of The Bible miniseries, a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah’s household rises to capture the heart of the future king.
Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name–Zibah, delight of the Lord–thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet’s home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah’s lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah’s favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.
- Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
I review Christian historical fiction differently than I do regular historical fiction because I hold it to a higher standard. I am a Christian and I believe the people in the Bible really existed. I think Christian historical fiction should always be built on Biblical fact and then fleshed out in a way that doesn’t change what we know about these ancient people. A good example of great historical fiction but AWFUL Biblical fiction is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Is it entertaining? Sure but it’s also incredibly disrespectful.
Luckily, Mesu Andrews love for the Lord and attention to scripture is apparent in her books. In Isaiah’s Daughter, the prophet Isaiah adopts a girl named Ishma; later known as Hephziba (Ziba). In the Bible, Isaiah only has two sons BUT I was able to find that in rabbinic literature, Hephziba is also Isaiah’s child. Andrews wrote about where she found her information here, if you’d like to read more. I don’t think anybody will ever know for sure if Hephziba was in fact Isaiah’s daughter. She very well could have been so I’m fine with that being the premise of this book.
As for the book itself, it was good but not great. It started out really strong with little Ishma and her friend Yaira escaping from Bethlehem after an attack. Yaira’s older brother, the prophet Micah, delivered them to Isaiah’s home where they would live from then on. Over time, both girls became a part of the family and Ishma was later adopted. Her name was changed to Hephziba and she was called Ziba. Throughout Ziba’s adolescent years, she became best friends with Prince Hezekiah. The two would eventually marry and after many years of infertility, have a son named Manasseh; who would grow up to be one of the most infamous Judaean kings.
I think my number one issue with this book is that Ziba’s voice, and the voices of the other characters, never changed much despite there being a pretty large jump in time. We follow Ziba’s journey from the age of five to either her late thirties or forties and she remains quite immature throughout the whole story. I honestly didn’t know how old she, or anyone else, was most of the time because they sounded and reacted to things the same way throughout the book.
I also didn’t care for this book from a historical perspective. There were many, many instances of women having much more freedom than they would have actually had in that time period. There’s a scene where a palace midwife COMMANDS Hezekiah, a king, to leave the room; this would have never happened. That scene is just one example but things like that happened throughout the book and it hindered my ability to feel immersed in the time period.
Isaiah’s Daughter is not a bad book but it’s simply not as good as other historical fiction books I’ve read. I think certain parts could have been removed to keep the story from dragging and it could have been more historically accurate. However, I do think it has a strong Biblical message and is solid Christian fiction.
I wish I liked this book more but I don’t regret reading it. I would like to include more Christian fiction on my blog so let me know if there’s anything you recommend. Thanks for reading and have a great day!