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Hadassah: One Night With the King    by Tommy Tenney & Mark Andrew Olsen order for
by Tommy Tenney
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

After Hadassah's entire family is killed by a band of Amalekite rogues set on destroying the Jewish race, she is raised by her cousin Mordecai. They move to Susa, capital of the Persian Empire. Mordecai keeps Hadassah in seclusion, forbidding her to reveal her Hebrew heritage as he believes it puts them at risk. Mordecai becomes a scribe in the King's Court, and Hadassah convinces her uncle to dress her as a Persian boy so that she can attend a celebration for all citizens, capping off King Xerxes' 180 day drunken revels.

Hadassah is stunned by the opulence and extravagance around her. She and Mordecai watch as Xerxes orders Queen Vashti to parade nude before the large male crowd. When Vashti refuses, she is banished and ultimately murdered by the same band of marauders who killed Hadassah's parents. Soon, the King orders virgins to be rounded up, in a search for a new Queen. Outside at the time, Hadassah is taken to the Palace, where she hides her identity, renaming herself 'Star'. She closely follows the advice of head eunuch Hegai. Hadassah also devotes herself to God, praying constantly and asking for help in preparation for her one night with the King. Everything rests on this one encounter, and in reflection she knows that every part of her life is engineered by God to save the Jewish people.

I was excited to read such a spectacular book so early in the year. Hadassah is a brilliant narration of a story that most know from the Bible book of Esther. The authors have written a beautiful tale of God's wonderful provision in life, making Haman's hatred for the Jews come to life like never before, and allowing the reader to put together the bigger picture of God's plan. Hadassah's character draws our sympathy and allegiance from the beginning. Her sweet, devoted disposition endears her to everyone in the story as well as to the reader. Supporting characters are believable and add to the narration. I cannot say enough good things about a novel that brings such a fresh perspective to a familiar story.

If you are not generally entranced by historical novels, Hadassah should change your mind. For those who have read and enjoyed The Red Tent, it is similar in its presentation and focus on an outstanding woman from the Bible. I urge readers to be swept away by this fantastic story themselves.

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