My rating: 5 of 5 stars
4.5 stars rounded up to 5!
Reminiscent of CS Lewis' Narnia series, Thornhill has created a fantastic portal fantasy, where Beckah enters Renatus, a pre-flood, pre-redemption world inhabited by the descendants of Abel. There, she's tasked by Yeshua to be the Voice of Adonai, the prophet that would help restore the Kingdom and lead the Ardenians back to God.
But the one person she is supposed to help the most, the Hand of Adonai, aka the annoying(ly handsome) Prince Seth Hal-Titus, doesn't trust her. She looks too much like the enemy, and sounds like she's crazy.
If there's one thing that Thornhill excels at, it's in building the relationships between her characters. It's always nice to see how they develop and grow around each other - and also grow to like each other despite their spats *ahem*.
The world itself is fantastic, with both wonderful things like raqia and healing clay and terrible things like blood lilies and shades. Beckah's journey of discovery is one that's shared with the reader, as Seth, Hadassah, Judah and Beckah make their way across the country back to South Arden.
One of the things that annoyed me about reading the prequel (The Lost Descendants) was how obvious the Christian parallels were. But this book sets it up perfectly: (view spoiler)[Jesus in the real world (or Beckah's world) is also Yeshua, or the Maschiach/Messiah, in Renatus. And he's preaching in the mountains, like in the Gospels, gathering followers to his cause. Salvation hasn't come to Renatus yet. [I dunno if this is a spoiler, but I'm tagging it in case.] (hide spoiler)]
Prophetess of Arden works as a Christian fantasy, at times drawing from Biblical stories and yet setting up its own rules and history. This can only be done because it isn't Earth, thereby avoiding accusations of heresy should the book's faith and theology differ from common interpretations of the Bible (though the more conservative would say fantasy itself and speculation of other worlds is heresy, lol). Yet, it's also Earthlike enough that it could be some form of medieval fantasy if you squint.
The book clearly sets up for the next one in the series, which I'm totally looking forward to! If you haven't read any of this series at all, I'd actually recommend reading this one first before going back to the prequel, because the prequel actually makes so much more sense AFTER you've read this.
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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