Of One Tongue (Willow Dressel) – Review

3 stars

 

Nabella heard Tomar’s voice nearby.  “Did you hear that?”
“We must have spooked some animal,” Jokaan said.
Nabella caught a glimpse of the men and relief surged through her.  The urge to climb from the tree and rush to them flew through her.  But…she would be in big trouble.  Hasty decision made, she tucked the loosed end of the jupe between her knees and pressed against the trunk.
“There it is.  Same as the others,” Tomar said.
“Looks like another caracal.”
“I think Jabari is right.  Someone is trying to curse you, Jokaan.”
Nabella heard her father sigh.  “I think I know who it is.”
“Who?”
“I will not speak against another until I have proof.”
Silence.  Nabella craned her neck to get a better view.
“Do you want me to cut these carcasses down?” Tomar came into full view as he pushed his way through the bush and stood by the remains.
“No.  Well…I don’t know.  What does one do in such a situation?  I’ve never encountered something like this before.”
Tomar turned, and Nabella saw him study her father.  Her eyes flew wide.  If Tomar happened to look up, he would surely see her.
“If we cut it down maybe it will break the curse,” Tomar eyed the carcass.
“Or make it twice as bad.”  Jokaan rubbed his beard, and his voice became determined.  “No, leave them.  I will seek out Shem or Japheth first.  Or if I can, speak with Noah himself.  They’re the only ones who would know what to do.”
Nabella’s heart leapt.  The ancestors from before the great flood…her father wanted to seek out these great men!

Publisher’s Description
In 2241 B.C., just one hundred and six years after the global flood, the plain of Shinar is a great wilderness. In the middle of this a great tower has been built to reach the heavens placed inside a walled municipality known as The City.

Strong-willed Nabella lives a day’s journey from the safety of mankind’s sole city on her father, Jokaan’s, olive orchard. When she discovers a grisly ritual the family believes they’ve been cursed for refusing to move their business to The City. Nabella is determined to help the men even though her betrothed disapproves.

She sneaks through the orchard when she is attacked by a tanniyn-a fearsome beast. Wounded when she tries to escape she winds up overhearing the men say only Noah, Shem or Japheth from the Former World can break the curse.

Meanwhile Ra’anel, head celestial adviser, lures people into The City to worship pagan gods so he and Cush can control them. But Nimrod’s feats as a mighty hunter become increasingly formidable. And tyrannical.

Nabella follows her father, disguised as a boy to seek Shem for herself. But her life is in peril when she finds herself kidnapped, forced to do Cush’s will, and her charade is discovered. Will Nabella find Shem? Will the curse be broken? Then God changes the one language of the descendants of Noah and Nabella’s life is changed forever…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My review
I have never come across a historical fiction novel dealing with the Tower of Babel, so when I found this book on Netgalley by chance I was keen to review it. Historical fiction adds the heart and soul into what can otherwise remain simply names and events, and as a homeschooling mum, I’m always on the lookout for books that do this well.

Of One Tongue has many things going for it: It adheres unashamedly to the Biblical account; it is full of historical details based on research into this period from outside of the evolutionary paradigm; and it is centred around a character the reader can become emotionally invested in. Unfortunately, I felt the writing was not quite of the same quality as the content.

The maxim “Show, don’t tell” is generally great advice for any writer, but there were times in this novel where I thought showing didn’t work to the book’s advantage. There is a fair amount of travelling in the central part of this novel, as Nabella sets off behind her father and brother-in-law to find Shem, and there were times when this ‘showing’ dragged on a little. And one of my pet hates – showing nervousness or hesitation by making the character stutter (I have honestly never seen someone do that in real life) – made me cringe several times, as did the tendency to write “Ah-h-h!” when a character screams.

The writing was a little rough around the edges in general. For example, there were some strangely constructed sentences: “Influential family leaders, of whom Cush belonged, were selected to run the organization.” There were times when the author used the point of view character’s thoughts to tell, rather than showing what the character saw and allowing the reader to observe for themselves; for example, Cush notes that Nimrod has a strong presence. But instead of showing us this, the author simply has the character think, “Nimrod has changed. He has confidence…and he’s not even out of breath.” I won’t give an exhaustive list, but this gives a sense of what I am talking about.  Individually they were all little things – many of them editorial in nature – but collectively, they contributed to an overall feeling that the writing could have done with more polishing.

Just as a little aside, for those who care to note such things, there was one scene where a tanniyn (dinosaur) is killed that got a little too gory for my taste, and another description of a dead animal that was a bit gruesome.

All things considered, for those who want a historical novel dealing with this period, then this is probably worth a read.  The author has even provided some information on some of the historical details at the end of the book.  On a purely literary level, however, it could have used a little more refining.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Buy from:             Amazon.com             Amazon.com.au

Release date:   1 December 2015
Pages:   335
Publisher:   First Edition Design Publishing
Author’s website:   http://creation-thewrittentruth.blogspot.com.au/

 

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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