As some of you may know, I’m a bit of a connaisseur of Biblical fiction, and not just because I write the stuff myself. I initially shied away from Ann Burton’s Women of the Bible series because of the rather romance-novel look of their packaging (oh, my prejudices!) but when she released a book on the prophetess Deborah at almost the same time my own Deborah book came out, I had to give her a try. (This curse of authors with bigger publishers and better distribution releasing novels on the same topic as mine at about the same time has dogged my career in Biblical fiction-writing, by the way — see Tommy Tenney’s and Rebecca Kohn’s very different novels on Queen Esther. The only similarity between them was that they both came out at about the same time as mine. But let that rest for now).
I’m glad I didn’t allow my prejudices to win out this time. Ann Burton is a fine writer who does a brilliant job of bringing Biblical women to life. Her ability to recreate time and place vividly is one of the strengths of her work, but she also imagines her Biblical women as believable characters. Her Deborah’s backstory is very different from mine — and the scope of her novel much narrower, taking place within a few short weeks rather than a span of years — but I always find it intriguing to see the ways in which different writers can imagine the same character and story.
I enjoyed Burton’s novels on Abigail and Jael even more than this one, and am looking forward to reading her Rahab novel. Yes, there are romance-novel conventions here — the heroine invariably trembles when she glimpses the overwhelmingly handsome hero — but they don’t obscure good writing and rock-solid research that enables Burton to draw the reader into the world of a woman’s life in ancient Israel.
One thing intrigues me: the books are well-promoted and distributed, but I can find no information online on the author — no website, no interviews, no pictures, no blog. This makes me suspect Ann Burton may be a pseudonym. I can’t imagine why such a talented writer would need a pseudonym for cover, but I’m interested in reading more of her work — under any name.