Star of Persia: Esther's Story by Jill Eileen Smith (Book Review)
Love. Duty. Fear. Courage. In the court of the king, which will prevail?
I have been a fan of Jill Eileen Smith since I first stumbled upon The Crimson Cord (Rahab's Story) at my local Barnes & Noble. I quickly gobbled up her Wives of the Patriarchs series shortly thereafter, and have been following her books ever since.
Her previous release, The Heart of a King: The Loves of King Solomon (a standalone/compilation novel) was underwhelming for me as a reader. Perhaps it was because I just wasn't interested in the story or the time period, or because I had a hard time with the pacing or characters, but it just wasn't "my thing" if that makes sense. Still, I anxiously awaited the arrival of Star of Persia in my mailbox. I do love Jill Eileen Smith as an author because she has a way of breathing new life into well-known Biblical figures, full of emotion and intrigue.
This *may* be my favorite Esther retelling of all time. I loved how multi-dimensional this story was, and I enjoyed the unique blend of both Esther and Vashti's perspectives. Vashti is one of those figures who is often overlooked as "the wife who made Xerxes angry." If you've seen the VeggieTales version of her story for instance, she's the one who refuses to make the King a sandwich. When she doesn't, she gets tossed out of her home in the middle of the night with her curlers still stuck in her hair. Of course, that's for humor's sake, but I think there was more to Vashti's story than that, and I absolutely loved how Smith fleshed her story out and added depth.
I also enjoyed the portrayal of Xerxes in Star of Persia. Without giving away any spoilers, I enjoyed how Smith explored the idea of a king with weaknesses at a time where historically men were expected to be warriors and leaders. However, at this point in his timeline, Xerxes reign was on the cusp of loss and failure. This provided for some interesting opportunities to explore character growth.
Jill Eileen Smith's inclusion of unique perspectives, as well as her blend of Biblical truth and secular history, creates a unique and fresh take on my favorite Queen. Smith's Esther shines like a star in the darkness and her portrayal of a woman finding her voice, standing up for her people, and acting boldly on faith is sorely needed in times like today. May many others be encouraged to shine bright like stars through Esther's story in Star of Persia.
You can learn more about Star of Persia, read an excerpt, or purchase your own copy at this link.
I would give this book 4.5/5 stars. If you're interested in the story of Esther, this is definitely a noteworthy retelling that you won't want to miss!
Happy reading everyone!
*I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.