By: Lin Wilder
Publisher: Wilder Books
Publication Date: October 2021
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
From veteran author Lin Wilder comes the story of the orphaned Jewish girl Esther in The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther. Wilder’s story uniquely merges historical fact with imagined, well-developed characters.
The story of Esther begins sadly. At age four, Esther finds herself orphaned as both of her parents die. Her mother’s death is especially traumatic for Esther, as she dies in childbirth, along with who would have been Esther’s baby brother. Esther’s mother sends her to fetch a midwife, and while Esther does her best, by the time she returns with one, her mother and the baby are dead.
Fortunately for Esther, shortly thereafter, she is adopted by her uncle Mordecai, who was Esther’s father’s brother, and his wife Joanna. Joanna is especially thrilled to have Esther as her adopted daughter, as she is almost forty years old yet does not have any children of her own. Esther’s adjustment after her parents die is quite a challenge. She finds herself awakening from nightmares almost nightly, crying out in her sleep, “Are you a midwife? I need a midwife!” Mordecai explains to the young girl that it was not her fault that her mother died, and that her father had every intention of being there when the baby was born. From that point on, Esther does not have any more nightmares.
Esther soon becomes friends with a girl from the village named Hannah. Their friendship blossoms and is a positive relationship for both girls. One day, while the girls are in the marketplace, soldiers approach Hannah and Esther and attempt to take Hannah away. Esther quickly announces that Hannah is no longer a virgin since her betrothal to her husband, even though this is not true. Previously, Esther was warned by Mordecai that soldiers would be coming for all the virgins in the kingdom, so she was prepared, whereas Hannah had no idea what was happening or why. Esther’s quick thinking saves Hannah and allows her to return home to her family. The soldiers instead focus their attention on capturing Esther, which is how she becomes the wife of King Xerxes, the king of the Persians.
Once she is taken, Esther finds herself thrust into a role for which she had no training, nor does she have any desire to fulfill: the role of queen. She constantly finds herself feeling like an outsider, but she heeds Mordecai’s advice to not reveal to her new “family” that she is a Jew. Will Esther be able to fulfill the significant role of Xerxes’s wife, the Queen of Persia, while keeping her true identity a secret?
Wilder is no stranger to writing historical fact. With The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther, Wilder has another winner. She perfectly blends the historical facts with well-developed supporting characters to create a riveting story. Even readers that know the story of Esther from the Bible will find themselves eagerly anticipating the next page of the story. When an author can command interest of a story that the reader already knows the ending to, that is true literary skill. Wilder excels at this with The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther.
Quill says: Wilder has again penned a top-notch historical fact story with The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther. Her writing is fast-paced and intriguing and will leave the reader longing for more.
To learn more about The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther, please visit the author’s website at linwilder.com.