And so this reluctant leader must face violence, refugee crises, secret meetings, uneasy alliances, threats to those he loves, rebels marching on Jerusalem, and situations so precarious that even Mary edges toward despair, saying “I cannot conceive of what has become of this city, so many seemingly gone mad.” But even in moments of great loss or after incidents of sometimes shocking violence Brouwer shines a hopeful light as his story fills in crucial lost years of the early church. Brouwer’s speculations are both compelling and plausible, and he deftly introduces a fractious Jerusalem and its conflicting factions.
That emphasis on millenia-old politics doesn’t slow down Brouwer’s warm, assured storytelling that offers crisp prose, engaging dialogue, welcome moments of levity, and a vivid sense of life in the desert, both in its harshness—“The sun, reaching its height, struck the rocks and the heat rose to a suffocating intensity”—and beauty, as “the green slopes of the Mount of Olives shimmered in the distance.” Lovers of biblical historical fiction will be transported.
Takeaway: The disciple John must strengthen the church in this engaging historical novel.
Comparable Titles: R.R. James’s The Baptist, Jay Parini’s The Damascus Road.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A