Book review: Palace of Darkness, by Tracy L. Higley

September 17, 2014

I recently had the chance to read Palace of Darkness: A Novel of Petra, by Tracy L. Higley. This fiction book was released on September 9, 2014 by Thomas Nelson.

About this book (from the back cover):

In an ancient city carved from stone, one desperate young woman searches for peace—in the calm before the deadly clash of empires. In 106 AD, a single mother can be certain of one thing—destitution. So Cassia and her six-year-old son flee to Petra, her late husband’s birth city, in hopes of finding refuge in the loving arms of family.

But the great stone city is not what Cassia imagined. And a secret about her husband reveals her son’s true bloodline, making the boy the target of a royal conspiracy.

In her darkest hours, Cassia finds herself surrounded by followers of the Way, a subversive new religious group whose disciples are frequently sentenced to arenas with starved lions and blood-soaked sand. Why would this sect seek out more danger by helping her? And what kind of religion gives freely and asks for nothing in return?

Roman soldiers soon surround Petra, immersing the city in panic and further endangering her son, and Cassia realizes he cannot be saved by human efforts alone. Her only hope lies with the followers of the Way . . . and her willingness to trust their One True God.

My Verdict:

I love historical fiction, and Tracy L. Higley’s Christian fiction novels have not disappointed me yet. (I previously reviewed City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii , Isle of Shadows, and The Queen’s Handmaid and have read a number of her other books.) Her novels always feel accurate and well-researched, which isn’t a surprise since her author’s bio says that “Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures.”  I had no knowledge of Petra beyond what I’d seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and this book really made the city come to life for me. The characters in the book were really great, but as in all of Highley’s book, the setting is the real character, and Petra will stay with you long after you finish the book. Make sure you read the author’s note at the end for the fascinating story of how Petra was lost, and then found again.

The test for me is always whether I have to finish a book in one reading, or am able to put it down to read later. This was a finish-in-one-night book! Palace of Darkness would be a great read if you’re heading on vacation for Fall Break next month, as you’ll be entertained, and will feel as if you have learned a little more about life in Rome and Petra. Highly recommended.

If you’d like to check out Palace of Darkness it is currently on pre-sale for $9.99 for the Kindle version right now. (Regularly $15.99.) If you prefer a physical copy the paperback version is currently on sale for $11.95. Remember, Amazon’s prices can change at any time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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