A Divine Romance by Ifueko Ogbomo (Book Review)
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"Ifueko Ogbomo captures the drama of the biblical epic of Genesis and evokes a sense of beauty with colorful imagery and vivid descriptions of the ancient world in A Divine Romance. Gifted storytelling brings an intricate cast of characters to life and portrays the greatest kind of love there is: the healing love that comes from God." - official endorsement of A Divine Romance by Ifueko Ogbomo from Jenna Van Mourik, author of Jerusalem's Daughter and host of Biblical Fiction Buffs.
Hers is the flawless face no man has seen—except her father. His is the foreign face everyone reveres—save his family. The royal decree that couples this unlikely pair will make or break the history of an ancient empire.
Considered a gift from the sun god due to her arresting eyes, Asenath was veiled in childhood and destined to marry Egyptian royalty. The 17-year-old is resigned to a loveless future in the royal harem, when Pharaoh’s shocking declaration forces her to marry the new vizier of Egypt—a mystical foreigner with powers of divination.
Known as Zaphnath-Paaneah, her husband turns out to be handsome, charming, and possibly insane since he worships an invisible god and expects her—the daughter of a high priest—to do the same. Facing a fate seemingly worse than that she grew up dreading, she desperately searches for a way out of the arranged marriage. The secrets she uncovers usher her into a world of intrigue and treachery that questions all her beliefs about men, gods, and love. Will theirs be the most monumental mismatch made in Egyptian history, or will her daring demand for a sign from his god make all her childhood fantasies come true?
Combining original poetry with well-researched history, A Divine Romance is an Own Voices retelling of a beloved Biblical tale that takes readers on a riveting journey through Ancient Egypt and introduces them to a fresh, poetic voice in Christian fiction.
As the years have gone on, I feel like I am less and less of a "book reviewer" as I was when I first started blogging and bookstagramming back in 2017. That's okay though—not all change is bad change—because the part of my life that used to be all about book blogging is full of so many other things now, including writing and publishing my own novels and being involved with other ministries. A consequence of that, however, is that I rarely have as much time to read anymore, and if I do read, I'm probably going to pick up a book by one of my favorite authors that I know I'm going to enjoy.
When Ifueko Ogbomo reached out to me in October of last year regarding reading an advanced copy of her debut fiction novel, which she was planning to self-publish, I almost said no due to time constraints. Her email really caught my attention though, and I was struck by her kindness, enthusiasm, and the power of her testimony. Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided I would open the copy of the manuscript (which she'd attached to the original email) "just to read the first few pages." Wouldn't you know... I finished the book then and there, and then went back and read it again.
I was hooked from page one, immediately drawn into the world and the setting, and read this book not once, but twice in the span of a weekend. I let all my other to-do list items fall away so that I could absorb this story. That's how you know it's a GOOD one.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Joseph's story is #TRENDING in the world of Biblical novels right now, and for good reason! It is a POWERFUL tale, and there have been several historical fiction novels centered around it released in the past few years (such as Potiphar's Wife by Mesu Andrews, or The Prince and the Prodigal by Jill Eileen Smith, just to name two). What struck me the most about A Divine Romance by Ifueko Ogbomo was how UNIQUE the concept was. The portrayal of Asenath and her love story with Joseph was beautifully done, especially when it came to certain plot points which I cannot divulge to you without giving away spoilers. Suffice it to say, as the feisty heroine searches for clues and answers about Joseph's past, and for answers about whether or not his God is as real as he says, there was more than one moment that left me with actual goosebumps on my arms.
More than anything, however, what I loved about this book was the primary love story. Not the one between Asenath and Joseph, but the one between the main characters and God. That is the true "Divine Romance" I think the title alludes to. During this season of February, the month of Valentine's Day, this story is a beautiful reminder of the ultimate kind of love that our Heavenly Father has for all of us. Not the kind that comes wrapped up with chocolates and a red bow; the kind we find at the foot of the cross and in the emptiness of the tomb. I was personally touched by how this book captures the spirit of a true relationship with God, and the overwhelming peace and joy that comes from knowing Him. Even though the story takes place in the Old Testament, the Gospel message of love and redemption is present.
I cannot recommend this book enough, and I am so, so happy to know Ifueko now. I look forward to seeing what else she accomplishes in the future!
*I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions are my own.