I can honestly say that I just finished In the Shadow of Sinai moments ago, and am writing this book with a smile on my face. I really enjoyed the story and I enjoyed Bezalel’s journey.
Before I share my review, here’s the back cover synopsis in case you didn’t know what the book was about. If you did, feel free to skip ahead!
About the Book:
Bezalel is a Hebrew slave to Ramses II. An artisan of the highest order, Ramses has kept him in the palace even when all other Israelites have been banned. Bezalel blames El Shaddai for isolating him from his people.
When Moses and Aaron appear one summer, and El Shaddai shakes Egypt to its core, Bezalel must reexamine his anger. Over the course of the next year, Bezalel’s life becomes intertwined with those of an Egyptian child-slave, the captain of the guard, and especially a beautiful young concubine.
When spring arrives, all of them escape with the young nation of Israel. But that’s only the beginning…
Of course, there were a few things that I didn’t personally connect with. For one thing, this book is, for the most part, from a man’s perspective. Most of the major characters are all men, and sometimes I had trouble connecting with them, their struggles, and their voices. That being said, I did enjoy the female characters. In particular, Bezalel’s Imma (mother) and later in the book, Meri. The relationship between Meri and Bezalel developed a little bit too quickly for my personal taste, but I thought in the end it was sweet and they were a good couple.
It took me a long time to finish this book (a week and a half total, which is long for me, as I’m typically a fast reader). I think that this is in part due to how much of the book is set in Egypt in proportion to how much of the book actually takes place after the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea. The parts set in Egypt took up a lot of the book and in my opinion lagged quite a bit. At the end, I understood why they were there for character development reasons, but it did feel like it took a really long time for the story to actually develop. Once the Israelites were out of Egypt though, that’s when it really got interesting for me.
This book had a LOT of research in it. I learned all kinds of little details about daily life during the time of the Exodus, the food, the descriptions of the land, the customs, etc. If you enjoy that in Biblical fiction, then this book is definitely for you! I usually don’t like being “bogged down” with a lot of details and historical facts that seem to just be “thrown in” to a story to make it appear more realistic, but the way Towriss writes really makes the setting comes to life.
I enjoyed reading about Sinai, the receiving of the Ten Commandments, the manna, and all the other adventures that the characters experienced on their way to Israel. I also enjoyed Bezalel’s character development and story during this part, as it felt like towards the second half of the book he showed real growth. In the beginning, I had honestly wondered if he would ever change. However, in the end I loved the lessons he learned about peace and trusting in God. Overall, it was a good read. It might not end up in my top ten, but I would still recommend it and plan to read more books by this author.
I gave this book a 3/5 stars because I liked it, but I think there is room for improvement, which is exactly why I will be reading more books by Towriss in the future.
Happy reading everyone!