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Petra by T.L. Higley

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The Advocate

Petra by T.L. Higley

Reviewed by Julia M. Reffner

"A fascinating historical set during the tumultuous days of the Early Church period, Petra is a tale of intense spiritual warfare and adventure with a dash of breathtaking romance added."

Petra is a fast-paced novel that races the reader to the finish line. The reader is torn between the excitement of the novel and savoring a fantastic read.

Petra, a wealthy trade center and hidden city, is the destination for Julian of Rome, when his betrothed and many of his close friends are arrested and thrown before a dozen hungry lions because of their Christian faith.

Cassia’s husband, Aretas, has made his living by stealing from unsuspecting travelers. A careless mistake leads to Aretas’ death at the very hands of those he has swindled. Penniless and newly widowed, Cassia decides she and her son will head to Petra, where her husband’s family reside.

Although they flee to safety in Petra, Julian and Cassia are both unaware of the dangers. Cassia discovers that her husband was of royal birth and Alexander is next in line to the throne. The current queen, Hagiru, is determined to see her own son rule…no matter what the cost. She is also a demonic priestess of the sun god, Dushrat.

Fortunately, Cassia has met several allies in the city. Elderly Malik is the leader of the early church in the Petra area. His family offers shelter to Cassia when she first arrives in the city, friendless and penniless. Julian helps Cassia find a job in building the city’s walls. Malik, Julian, and the rest of the early church members in Petra also formulate a plan to rescue Alexander from the grips of the palace where he is imprisoned.

Drawn in by their kindness, Cassia attends secret meetings of the early church. As the danger in the city increases, Cassia draws closer to her Savior. Cassia’s struggles with God were very realistically portrayed. As a formerly abused wife, she has never felt true human love and struggles with a sense of God’s love.

Intense warfare, in both the physical and spiritual realm, add excitement and danger that keep the reader turning the pages. Towards the end I could literally feel my heart racing. I have never read spiritual warfare portrayed in such a realistic, yet frightening light in fiction. Higley demonstrates to the reader that darkness and evil are very real and intense, and yet in the strength of God’s power we need have no fear.

Historical detail and breathtaking settings accurately portray the world of the early church, challenging the reader’s faith. The characters were well-drawn and realistic. The romance was beautiful as the reader watches Cassia discover she must accept God’s love for her before experiencing human love in the purest form.

This reader is jumping in the car for a library run, as Higley has captured my attention as a must-read author.

Julia ReffnerJulia M. Reffner is blessed to be a servant to the King, married to the love of her life, a busy homeschool mom of two young children, and owned by one shedding longhaired cat. She is enjoying working on a women’s fiction novel in her spare time. She is a reviewer for Historical Novels Review quarterly, a magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Julia can be found blogging about God, literature and life at Dark Glass Ponderings and about writing at the group blog, The Writer's Alley.