Garden of Madness
With suspense, intrigue, and a touch of romance, T.L. Higley expertly weaves together the Biblical account found in Daniel 4 (Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s seven-year insanity, a curse brought on him because of his pride), the mysteries of the Babylonian Hanging Gardens (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), as well as the history of the Judean kings in exile in Babylon. For seven years, the princess Tiamat and her family have kept her father’s condition a secret, but when Tia begins sneaking out of the palace to investigate some suspicious deaths, she finds that the deceit and betrayal within the palace goes far deeper than she could have even imagined. Soon, not only is her freedom at stake, but also her family, her kingdom, and even her very soul.
This book was everything I like in a good book — mystery, suspense, beautifully descriptive language, plot twists, and characters that change and mature as they learn more about themselves and the world around them. Tia is strong, intelligent, and passionate, though spoiled and short-sighted, but throughout the novel, she also grows to be forgiving, selfless, and compassionate. Though there is a touch of romance in the novel, it comes about gradually, naturally, in some ways even paralleling one of my favorite romance novels, Pride and Prejudice. The scenes were described in ways that really put the reader into the setting, and the plot works seamlessly in conjunction with the historical facts presented in the Bible, creating a plausible story that adheres to the truths of Scripture.
One minor complaint stems from the characterization of Tiamat. Her obsession with athletic running and gymnastic-like training seems out of place and unnecessary. There was even a scene where she competes in a chariot race, which would be completely unlikely considering the historical context. I kept waiting for her athleticism to be used as a plot device somehow, but instead, I was just left wondering why it was included at all.
Fans of Biblical fiction will likely enjoy this tense, beautifully crafted novel which reminds readers of God’s grace for all people and his omnipotence over all things.