The Book of Esther by Emily Barton


When Esther bat Josephus, daughter of the kender of the Khazar Kaganate, discovers that Germania has invaded her homeland, she knows that she must do something to help stop them. So she and her adopted brother, Itakh, set out on a perilous journey to find a group of mysterious Kabbalists, hope for her people, and a higher purpose for herself.

I really did like this book, but at the same time, it kind of grated on my nerves. First of all, it felt like it took me forever to finish this book. I know that was partly me – there was a significant gap in my background knowledge that would’ve made for a much smoother read. But also, large swaths of the book seemed to just move slowly, bogged down with detail – detail that was necessary for the overall story, but thick nonetheless.

And Esther, frankly, annoyed me at times. She cared so much more for the feelings of her mechanical horse and the golems than she ever seemed to for the people she was trying to save, that I questioned why she felt the need to save them at all. She wanted to have it all her way, no matter who she hurt in the process, and that made me rather unsympathetic to her.

Yet, even with that, I was strangely fascinated by The Book of Esther, and how Barton fused this crazy combination of steampunk, fantasy, and counterfactual Jewish history to make a somewhat modern retelling of the story of Queen Esther helping to save her people from destruction.

I can’t recommend you run right out and buy a copy when the book is released next week, but you might want to check it out from your local library and tuck in for a read.

Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂



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