That passage suggests the tenor of the series, which traces the development of myth into systems of belief often wielded as power, while emphasizing the humanity of all involved—pious readers starting with this entry will quickly be jolted by Wammack’s matter-of-fact treatment of sex, virginity, and pleasure, an approach more in line with the Song of Solomon than later primness. The women here have welcome agency: Fatimah boldly pledges to Ishmael to please him “with desert-heated love”; Baalat urges Horus to add “Respect Women” to his teachings; and a scene of Sarai and Hagar joining forces and applying oils to inspire Abram to sire a son is strange and funny.)
Dialogue often drives the overlapping, intergenerational stories as this entry surveys nothing less than the dawning of the Abrahamic religions during the age of pharaohs and Phoenicians, plus the building of desert cities, the Ark of the Covenant, and many other wonders, ideas, and beliefs. The talk is direct and plainspoken, sometimes earthy, and—like the rest of this sui generis novel—brisk and unpredictable. “Well, I don’t think it’s proper!” Abram tells his wife, Keturah, when discussing the possibility of women “teaching about the nature of God.” He adds: “It makes women think they are as good as men!” Wammack’s reimagining of foundational stories stand out by never indulging in hero worship.
Takeaway: Surprising, earthy reimagining of the dawn of the Abrahamic religions
Comparable Titles: Charlotte Gordo’s Abraham’s Dilemma, Joseph Blenkinsopp’s Abraham: The Story of a Life.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B