I have long enjoyed Tracy Higley
's historical works, but after finishing "So Shines the Night," I can now say this is my new favorite of her novels. It holds a wonderful blend of elements: Biblical accuracy, history, suspense, romance. Being a busy person, I normally catch my reading time in little spurts here and there. While reading "So Shines the Night," I often found myself being upset when the clock informed me that I needed to go to work or had another responsibility to handle. I just wanted to find out what would happen next!
Daria is a tutor on the isle of Rhodes in AD 57. Being an educated woman at a time when all scholars were male has always set Daria apart. She fears little, but she knows there is evil in the world and has often felt it reaching out for her. When a confrontation with a sorcerer leaves her fleeing for her life, she literally runs into Lucas, a merchant just heading back to his home in Ephesus. Seeing something inside her that draws him, Lucas offers to bring her to the safety of his home in exchange for tutoring, and promises he can secure her a position at the famous school of Tyrannus. Daria decides to take the risk and lets him whisk her across the sea. But will his home be the safe haven he promises?
A tortured soul, Lucas is only months past the murder of his wife. Hers was the first in a continuing string of murders in Ephesus, and he himself has been one of the suspects. Vowing to exact revenge, Lucas has spent time ingratiating himself into many different sects within the city in order to determine who is responsible for the brutal crimes. Now on the inside of the silversmiths guild, the Christians, and the sorcerers, Lucas is in the middle of a spiritual war beyond his comprehension. At times he is pleasant and warm, at times rough and brusque. Daria longs to be the light that brings Lucas out of the darkness, while yet beginning to fear it may be too late to pull him back.
In exploring the city, Daria meets the dynamic teacher Paul and many of his friends. Observing Paul heal a man of demon possession, Daria is drawn to the power inside him. Striking up a friendship with the Christians, Daria is both confused and captivated by their faith in the One God. Here in a city totally devoted to the worship of Artemis (Diana), Daria must look at faith and devotion and decide who she will choose to serve.
With Christianity a growing force in Ephesus, the workers of darkness seek to strike against them. Demetrius and the silversmiths plot to retain their livelihood; the sorcerers seek to drive them out with dark spells. Although very familiar with the Acts 19
passage in which the story is set, and therefore knowing how things would end for our Biblical characters, I was on pins and needles to see how Lucas and Daria came out on the other side. I began to fear that we might reach the end having witnessed one or both of their deaths. I am not opposed to killing a main character if done well, and I knew Tracy would do it well if she did. There are twists and turns at the end, but the conclusion was completely satisfactory for this reader. You will have to check it out this amazing story for yourself and draw your own conclusions on it!
"So Shines the Night" releases today
and is available at all retailers. I received my copy from BookSneeze
in exchange for this honest review.As part of Tracy Higley's Caravan, I'm pleased to share this interview with Tracy with you all! Keep reading to see her thoughts on this story, and don't miss the chance to win a $50.00 gift card below!
Q: You have gone on so many amazing travels. What was one of your favorite things about visiting Ephesus?
A: I think it was the sense of being somewhere “where Paul walked.” Sitting in the theater, looking down over the Harbor Street where he was likely kept prisoner at times, I had this amazing moment of “I can’t believe I’m here” – the kind of moment that gives you chills and makes you feel connected to something larger than yourself.
Q: What inspired the theme of So Shines the Night?
A: The idea of community
is dear to my heart, and the struggle we all have to not live in isolation. I wanted to take a look at two people struggling to do the right thing, but going about it the wrong way because they were isolated both from other people and from God, and to see what would happen when they brushed up against a community like the first century church.
Q: When you visited Ephesus, what was it like to be in the same city that Paul ministered in centuries ago?
A: It was thrilling, to be succinct. There is a sense of “this is real – this really happened” that sweeps over you and pulls you back in time and into the world of the Scripture in a new and fresh way. I loved it.
Q: What's one thing you learned about Ephesus and its importance to Christians that you found surprising/interesting/challenging?
A: I had never realized or noticed until studying this time in Paul’s life, how much time he spent there (nearly three years). I always pictured him hopping around from place to place fairly quickly. I was challenged by the time that he invested in people’s lives, the relationships and bonds he formed. Later, when the Ephesian elders said goodbye to him, the book of Acts tells us that they were literally weeping. It’s easy for me to minister to people “from afar” but I was really challenged by Paul’s relational approach to sharing Christ.
Q: How was the experience of writing So Shines the Night, compared to your other Seven Wonders novels?
A: It was much the same, with the addition of really being able to picture the city itself, as I could with Pompeii
, after having walked the streets that are still so intact. It was also fun bringing in the “guest characters” from the book of Acts, and even an appearance of some characters from another novel (I’m not saying who – you’ll have to figure it out!)
Q: How has your writing, research, and travels affected your spiritual life?
A: Great question. All of it has definitely given me a larger sense of the world and what God is doing in it, both now and through the past. It’s made me realize, as I’ve studied God’s work in the nations throughout history, that He has always been calling all people to Himself, and that He still is. It’s also given me a desire to see the kind of Christianity that was born in the fires of Roman persecution become part of our experience now – a living, breathing faith that radically transforms our lives.
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing?
Seriously, writing is an isolated and lonely profession at times. I spend a lot of time in my office alone, working to put together stories that people will love, and that will touch their hearts. When I hear from readers, start to see the reaction to a new book, that is my favorite thing about the process.
Q: Can you share anything about your future projects?
A: The best way to get a sense of what I’m working on now would be to visit this page: http://tracyhigley.com/books/work-in-progress/
Although, don’t hold me to all those thoughts about the book I haven’t started yet – who knows where that will go!
Click the graphic above for a chance to win! Thank you so much, Tracy, for blessing my life with your storytelling abilities, and for the insightful interview! I'm proud to be part of the Caravan, and was so tickled when I found my name listed in the Special Thanks section. You're the best!