The drama of the Old Testament comes to life as Judah’s most notorious king ascends to the throne in this gripping novel from the award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter.
At eight years old, Shulle has known only life in a small village with her loving but peculiar father. When Uncle Shebna offers shelter in Jerusalem in exchange for Shulle’s help tutoring King Manasseh, Judah’s five-year-old co-regent who displays the same peculiarities as her father, she’s eager to experience the royal court. But Shulle soon realizes the limits of her father’s strict adherence to Yahweh’s Law when Uncle Shebna teaches her of the starry hosts and their power.
Convinced Judah must be freed from Yahweh’s chains, she begins the subtle swaying of young Manasseh, using her charm and skills on the boy no one else understands. When King Hezekiah dies, twelve-year-old Manasseh is thrust onto Judah’s throne, bitter at Yahweh and eager to marry the girl he adores. Assyria’s crown prince favors Manasseh and twists his brilliant mind toward cruelty, beginning Shulle’s long and harrowing journey to discover the Yahweh she’d never known, guided with loving wisdom by Manasseh’s mother: Isaiah’s daughter, the heartbroken Hephzibah.
Amid Judah’s dark days, a desperate remnant emerges, claiming the Lord’s promise, “Though we’re helpless now, we’re never hopeless–because we serve El Shaddai.” Shulle is among them, a girl who becomes a queen through Isaiah’s legacy.
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own. I appreciate being a member of the BFF team.
Comments about Christianity aren’t always positive. I’ve often heard that it’s misogynistic, for example, even though that’s something with which I disagree. But, when I consider the paganism featured in this novel, I want to say how thankful I am for the Christian faith. Isaiah’s Legacy isn’t the first book I’ve read by Mesu Andrews, not by a long shot, but it is the one I had the most difficulty finishing. That’s nothing to do with her quality of writing, but instead due to the subject matter Andrews had to write about.
Ancient Judah could’ve been great. Kings such as Hezekiah ruled justly, but they were in the minority. Hezekiah’s moves to put Yahweh in His rightful place, to be worshipped by all, were undone by his son and his son’s advisors. The country was surrounded by unjust kings who wanted to conquer the land just as they had done with the northern Kingdom of Israel. Manasseh thought he could be as great as Solomon, but he focused on the wrong aspects of Solomon’s rule. He formed allegiances with Assyria and restored polytheistic worship. Andrews also suggests that he participated in the sacrificial worship of Moloch, which involved child sacrifice, and that he took multiple wives.
When it came to Shulle, Andrews wrote of her being just eight years old when she is first introduced to the dark arts. That was a little… horrifying. Then, Manasseh was merely 12 when he came to the throne. Shulle, 15. Their young ages made it awkward to read the passages involving the intimacy between them. What I had to remember – what all readers need to remember – is how times have changed in matters of adulthood and maturity. Once someone hit puberty, they were considered adults, ready to marry and raise children of their own. This was not thought of as child abuse, although I’d suggest (with my modern-day perspective) the pagan rites definitely crossed a line.
And then Manasseh executed Isaiah… It’s a pivotal moment in the book, especially for Shulle, but I’m not sure I could read it again. (That’s not a spoiler, by the way. It’s straight from the Talmud, a collection of Jewish writings.)
When it comes to fiction, I usually inhale it. For someone who can be easily distracted, reading can keep me occupied for hours. But as much as I wanted to read Isaiah’s Legacy in one sitting, I couldn’t do it. I had to keep turning to something lighter and fluffier, and then remember not to lose myself in that so I could return to the dark land of Judah. Let me reiterate that this is an ugly book, but it isn’t a complaint about Andrews’ writing. Her note to the reader at the start warns readers that the novel may be overwhelming at times, but she believes that Manasseh was the original prodigal son. Because Manasseh DID return to the Lord and to following Yahweh’s ways, demonstrating that no one is beyond redemption while they still breathe. Sometimes, you have to hit the deep dark pits of depravity before you can rise up and see the Light of truth. And that’s the point of Isaiah’s Legacy.
Four point five stars – only because it was such a difficult book to read that the ending came as a relief.
Blog Tour and Scavenger Hunt
Hey, need something to lighten your day? I’m part of a blog hop that Mesu Andrews is running as part of the Isaiah’s Legacy launch. Gather the clues at each stop and you could win a unique prize.
Mesu Andrews is the Christy Award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter and has received numerous accolades for her other novels including Of Fire and Lions, Love Amid the Ashes, The Pharaoh’s Daughter, and Miriam. Her deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for readers.
Many of her faithful readers are members of her launch team—Mesu’s Biblical Fiction Fans (BFFs)—and offer their time and service to promote God’s word through story. Andrews lives in North Carolina with her husband Roy and enjoys spending time with her tribe of grandchildren.
Mesu Andrews’ Website https://mesuandrews.com/
Publication Date: 18 February 2020