~ About the Book ~
Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name–Zibah, delight of the Lord–thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet’s home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah’s lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah’s favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Release date: 16 January 2018
~ Excerpt ~
I almost ran back to Yaira when Mistress Aya set my feet on the ground, but Yaira’s nod and smile told me it was safe to stay beside the prince. The big people kept staring at us even after they sat at the table. I still wasn’t sure what Mistress Aya wanted me to do.
Afraid the soldiers might slip through the gate and snatch me from the courtyard, I stood by the litter, on the side closest to Yaira, and looked down at the prince. His face was the color of goat’s milk. He lay on his back, staring at the palm trees above us, his eyes empty like Abba’s and Ima’s the last time I saw them. Was Mistress Aya sure his body lived? I leaned over his face and felt his soft breath on my cheek. Then I saw his chest rise and fall. He was definitely alive.
Why was he staring? Maybe he saw something up in the trees. I looked up and saw a nest with two birds. They were singing, and I hadn’t even noticed. I was sure they weren’t there yesterday. The birds looked like they’d been dipped in a rainbow—blue, pink, yellow, and orange. No wonder he was staring. Maybe his eyes weren’t empty after all. I turned his face toward me.
“Be gentle with him!” the queen yelled.
I jerked my hand away, afraid she’d call for her soldiers to beat me. Mistress Aya shushed her, but I still huddled behind the litter.
My stomach growled. There was a lot of food on the table, more than we usually ate at a meal. The big people had begun eating, so I stood again and looked at the prince, wondering if he was hungry too. I wanted to ask him, but the words wouldn’t come. I poked his tummy, and it growled. He was hungry!
I walked over to the table. Master Isaiah sat at the head, the queen at his place of honor. Mistress Aya let Yaira sit at second seat today. I nudged Yaira’s shoulder, pointed at the bread, and rubbed my tummy. She broke off one piece of bread, so I pointed at the prince to explain that I needed two pieces.
“He can’t eat bread.” The queen talked extra loud as if my lost words meant I couldn’t hear. “This is foolish, Aya. Don’t let her shove bread into his mouth. He’s only had broth since this happened.”
Mistress Aya whispered something to her friend, but Yaira ignored them and gave me another piece of bread. “You eat some, Ishma, and if the prince wakes up, you can share.”
Master Isaiah gestured toward the prince. “Go on. It’s all right.”
I took a bite of bread on my way back to the litter. It stood on four legs, like a low table, with big gold rings on all four corners. Two long, sturdy poles fit through the gold rings. I saw the soldiers carrying the poles on their shoulders with the litter way up in the air. A wooden rim guarded all four sides, probably so the prince didn’t slide off while he was up high. I wondered if the prince was scared, being lifted up like that.
I sat down on the litter’s wooden rim and poked my fist into the puffy mattress beside the prince. It might have been stuffed with wool or straw or maybe feathers. I ran my hand over its curly, soft goat skin and wondered what the prince’s life had been like before it was surrounded by this wooden rim. The rim seemed like a wall, separating him from everyone else in the whole world.
I looked up at the two pretty birds. Two of them. Even birds had someone. Why should the prince be alone in his nest? If I climbed over the rim and sat on the mattress with him, he wouldn’t be alone.
I peeked over my shoulder at Yaira. The big people were all staring at me again. Master Isaiah whispered something, and they started eating. I bit off another piece of my bread and studied the prince some more. He was still staring into the tree. I decided the prince wanted to be like the two birds in one nest.
I glanced over my shoulder again and saw that everyone was eating and talking. Quietly, I slipped off my dusty sandals, scooted over the wooden rim, and knelt on the soft mattress. No one seemed to notice, so I huddled closer to the prince’s face and tore off a small piece of bread.
I held it in front of his eyes.
He didn’t even blink.
Rising on my knees, I hovered over his face, putting myself between him and the tree. His eyes were dark like Abba’s. His nose was a little crooked and too big for his face. I waited a moment. Then I poofed a bit of air. His eyelids flickered. I poofed again. His eyes stayed distant, but he frowned like he was annoyed.
I looked up at the birds again. They were still singing—first one, then the other—like they were talking to each other. When I returned my attention to the prince, he was looking at me, straight into my eyes. His light was back! I leaned to one side, and his eyes followed me. To the other side. His eyes followed again.
I climbed over him and sat on the mattress between him and the rim of the litter. He turned his head, staring at me now instead of the tree. Blinking many times, he squinted and studied me. “Are you a dream?” His voice was so quiet it was almost like a breath.
I shook my head.
He looked at me, blinking some more. He lifted his hand and touched my face. “An angel then?”
“No, I’m Ishma.” I covered my mouth as if a wild horse had rushed out. My words had come back at the same time someone lit the light in his eyes!
Everyone at the table gasped, and before I knew what was happening, someone scooped me off the litter and swung me around. Yaira held me tight, laughing and crying. “Ishma, you spoke! You spoke!” The master’s deep voice joined the women’s squeals, laughing and rejoicing. The queen sat on the edge of the litter, rocking the prince in her arms, while the mistress hugged them both.
Excerpted from ISAIAH’S DAUGHTER. Copyright © 2018 by Mesu Andrews.
Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
~ Review ~
It has been a long wait for this novel, but having just finished this enthralling read, I can say with absolute certainty that it was worth every minute of the wait. The world of 8th Century BC Judah really comes to life in this novel, which spans almost forty years of Judah’s history during the reigns of King Ahaz and then King Hezekiah. More than that, Scripture really comes to life, and I don’t just mean in the sense that it puts flesh on the bones of the historical accounts of Kings and Chronicles. Prophecy becomes a living, breathing Word from God, and it was exciting to see these characters grappling with its meaning and application in its original context.
The story begins its narrative when Ishma and Hezekiah are still children and follows their friendship from its beginning—as two young children deeply impacted by trauma—throughout their education under Master Isaiah, and into the joys, fears, and challenges of their reign as King and Queen of Judah. They took up residence in my heart very early on in the story, and I loved the depth and richness of their friendship (and later their marriage)—the way they understood, supported, sharpened, and loved one another. Although, that’s not to say they didn’t have their rough patches!
But it’s Mesu Andrews’ spiritual and political acumen and her understanding of human nature that really gives this novel its vibrancy. I am just in awe at her ability to not only bring characters to life on the page, but also the world they live in. This is must-read Biblical fiction!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
Want to know more about Hephzibah? Check out Mesu Andrews’ blog post.
There are also two free Bible studies that accompany this novel. If you’d like to download “Walking With God,” by Lyndsey Kirk, check out this link on Mesu’s website (middle of page, under Free Resources): http://mesuandrews.com/books/isaiahs-daughter/.
If you’re on the YouVersion Bible app, you might like to check out this 7-day study: http://bible.com/r/2py
~ About the Author ~
Mesu Andrews’ deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for her readers. She and her husband, Roy, live in a log cabin snuggled into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains with their dog, Zeke. The Andrews’ have two married daughters and a small tribe of grandkids. Mesu loves movies, football, waterfalls, and travel.
Biblical fiction is her favorite genre to read and write. Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell, 2011), tells the story of Job and won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year for a Debut Author. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) relates the poetic Song of Solomon in story form, and Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) sets the story of Hosea and Gomer in biblical Israel. The Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) displays God’s sovereignty over Jezebel’s daughter, Queen Athaliah. The Pharaoh’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015), the first in The Treasures of the Nile series, unveils Moses’ early years through the eyes of his Egyptian mother, and Miriam (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2016), the second book in the series, introduces Yahweh’s prophetess during the ten plagues and the Exodus as she struggles to trust this God she doesn’t understand. In January 2018, Isaiah’s Daughter: A Novel of Prophets and Kings (Waterbrook/Multnomah) reveals the little-known personal life of the prophet Isaiah and introduces readers to his captivating daughter.