Title: Return to Me (The Restoration Chronicles)
Author: Lynn Austin
Publisher: Bethany House
Lynn Austin is one of my “go to” authors when I want to read good historical fiction stories. This one is no exception. The story begins with Daniel explaining to the Babylonian king the meaning of the writing on the wall by the mysterious hand/finger of God, and the story proceeds from this point forward.
Iddo, his wife, daughter, two sons and their families all live together in Babylon. Iddo is old enough to remember when as a small boy the Israelites were taken into captivity and the destruction that went along with that. He is of the priestly line of Levites that performed music at the temple. Once in Babylon, he continued to practice prayers and taught his sons the way of priests, but he was too young to play any instrument. The time has come to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple as the Persians have conquered the Babylonians and set the exiles free. Iddo is excited to return to Jerusalem and begin serving as a priest after the temple is rebuilt, but he is disappointed that the rest of his family wants to stay in Babylon with the exception of his grandson Zechariah.
Upon their return, the Hebrews are not welcomed by the Samaritans who have been farming and living in Jerusalem the last 70 years. The Samaritans view the land as theirs and are not willing to just give it up. What ensues are various skirmishes between the Hebrews and Samaritans and sometimes between the Hebrews themselves with some serious outcomes. Zechariah longs to keep his best friend Yael from practicing astrology as he knows the penalty is death if she is discovered. Dinah, Iddo’s wife, wants to return to her children and grandchildren left behind in Babylon and questions why the Hebrews even returned to Jerusalem in the first place. Iddo serves God unwaveringly, but why? Is it out of fear or love? Can Yael turn from the darkness that has been a part of her life for such a long time and enter into a relationship with the one true God or will she be enticed to delve further into sorcery? Can Dinah find a new purpose in Jerusalem or will she grow bitter with longing for Babylon?
This is a good start to a new series. It is kind of slow in some parts, but I understand the groundwork must be laid for future stories. I really liked the character of Zechariah with all his human faults and fears. I enjoyed the historical as well as many biblical references about this time in Jewish history. I found the story very interesting and look forward to the next book in the series. I would recommend this book, but be aware that it is over 450 pages long. Neither the reading nor the terminology is difficult, but this isn’t a story to be read in one sitting. This is a fine start to a new biblical series based on the Old Testament, and I hope that readers will take the time to enjoy learning something new from something old.
My rating is 4 stars.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book. The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ . Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457