At least once a month, I will try to post a book review. Sometimes it will be a book I read years ago, other times I will have just turned the last page and feel like writing a review.
My reviews will always be about a book I rated with either 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads and/or Amazon. There are soooo many books available for readers to choose from—and to choose to buy—that I want to save you readers both selection time and hard-earned money. I want to give you “the best bang for your buck.” So, even though there are some 3-star books that are still “good,” I’ll only post reviews about the “better” and “best” books I’ve read.
Goodreads’ rating system: Amazon’s rating system:
3 stars = I liked it 3 stars = It’s okay
4 stars = I really liked it 4 stars = I like it
5 stars = It was amazing 5 stars = I love it
I selected Thief of Corinth for this month’s book review because I recently interviewed Tessa Afshar for an upcoming “Featured Author Interview” post on the American Christian Fiction Writers’ (ACFW) website. I had read Afshar’s 2010 debut novel Pearl in the Sand this summer, and “really liked” it (gave it 4 stars). It was the Book of the Month pick by my Goodreads’ Book Club, Christian Fiction Devourers.
5 STARS ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
for Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar
Back Cover Book Blurb
First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption―the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.
After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.
Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future―and very lives―hanging in the balance.
When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.
Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Thief of Corinth has earned starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.
My November 2018 Review
You know an author is pretty spectacular when she’s able to make you really for the main character after having read only 16 pages into a book! That’s exactly what Afshar did in Thief of Corinth, the author’s most recent Biblical fiction release set in the time of the New Testament.
The heroine, Ariadne, is a teen at the beginning of this novel, and Draco is a man her grandfather has arranged for her to marry. Ariadne walks in on Draco right after he had brutally had his way with a slave girl who was even younger than Ariadne. The grandfather is nonchalant about the incident and still says Ariadne must marry Draco; Ariadne is outraged over this command and says so; Ariadne’s mother is furious at her daughter! for being rude to her grandfather and she strikes Ariadne’s face so hard that later it leaves a bruise.
Oh, how I experienced Ariadne’s own disbelief, anger, and emotional hurt over that—especially since she was a young teen, at an age when one feels everything 100 times more acutely than an adult. The author continued to make me sympathize with Ariadne, and care more and more about her, as well as several other characters, with each turn of the page. This was most impressive because of the author’s brevity.
Afshar has the craft of writing down so well that she only has to use a few paragraphs of narrative and limited lines of dialogue for each new scene in order to make readers feel like they are right there in Corinth, experiencing the same heartbreak, happiness, loneliness, anger, love, fear, uncertainty, excitement, or remorse that each and every one of the characters feel.
The author’s beautiful and descriptive writing also helps to create scenes that evoke emotion all throughout this novel. Afshar’s poetic voice in Thief of Corinth places her in the same league as lyrical master Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club.
Some of my favorite lines of that type of prose were:
-“My brother … enfolded Father in his arms. They had much to say to each other, those two men. Months of silence and hurt to bridge. But for those first few moments, embraces did the speaking.”
-“I looked up at the sailor who had saved us, a man the size of a city gate with a complexion the warm hue of cinnamon bark.”
-“Sometimes silence booms like thunder, carrying too many revelations for the mind to absorb. Shock had rendered us immobile.”
Depicting emotional scenes isn’t Afshar’s only talent with descriptions—she also shows skill describing setting. Readers will clearly see the villas and buildings of Corinth, and feel as if they are right there in the first century, walking alongside the characters in this famous Biblical city.
One item to take note of, but something that did not detract at all from this fantastic story, is that the heroine Ariadne isn’t a real Biblical figure. Several other people in this novel are though, like Dionysus, the Apostle Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila. There also are some minor characters in the book based on true historical figures, such as a man named Hermesianx who entered his daughters into the Isthmian Games, and Luis the Butcher, who really did have a shop in Corinth.
I think Thief of Corinth is a novel that both believers and those who are not Christians will enjoy, because believer or not, almost everyone can relate to many of the characters in the book, and to several situations such as wanting to please a parent, longing to be accepted and loved, and desiring to do what you think is best.
I was first introduced to Afshar’s writing this past summer when my book club read her 2010 debut novel Pearl in the Sand, that is set in the times of the Old Testament. This is a fictionalized story about the real Biblical woman Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute who later married one of the leaders of Israel. Thief of Corinth is set in the times of the New Testament. Afshar impressed with me Pearl in the Sand, which is why I rated that novel 4 stars, but the author really wowed me with Thief of Corinth, which is why I give this book 5 stars. I will recommend this novel to my family and friends, and I look forward to reading other books by this author.