Upon first glance I could tell this was going to be a rousing read. The thick leather binding, the gold flaked page trim, and the mix of Helvetica and Shadows Into the Light fonts instantly gave me a good impression. When I started really digging into the story, though, I quickly found myself getting lost amongst the shiny sheets of paper and titles. There seemed to be no coherent story I was supposed to follow, but rather several mini stories that vaguely connected to each other with some overlapping characters (all of whom had names reminding me of another book I read titled “Caucasian names for Suburban Moms”).
On the subject of characters, I thought this was the real weak point of the whole novel. Throughout each chapter there was absolutely no character development! What was John’s backstory? What was his relationship with Mary like? Surely Timothy wasn’t going to stay in Ephesus his whole life, right? He was a young man, for darn sake! Let him live! I would have really loved a sort of coming of age moment where Timothy rebelled and went off to do his own thing, but alas, he was forever shackled. This serious lack of backstory for these characters left me feeling no connection with any of them, which I deem crucial for a novel as long as this one to succeed.
Of course, going hand in hand with no exposition is a flimsy plot, and sadly the novel succumbed to this as well. By the end I wasn’t feeling that glow of satisfaction that I normally get after reading such books, which was unfortunate given the time the author (authors?) clearly put into this.