For seven long years Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the king Nebuchadnezzar to recover from his madness and return to his family and his kingdom. Driven from the throne to live as a beast, her father prowls his Hanging Gardens, hidden away from the world.
Since her treaty marriage over seven years earlier, 'Tia' has lived an rich yet oppressive life in the palace. However, her husband has died, and she relishes her new found independence. When a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the gruesome death, even if her own freedom is threatened.
As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mag Shadir plots to expose the family's secrets and set his own puppet on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband's brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notion of the gods even as he opens up her heart to both truth and love.
In a time when few give their hearts to to the true God, Yahweh, Tia must decide if she is willing to risk everything -her possessions, her gods, and her very life -for the Isrealites' one God. Madness, sorcery, and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist's deadly potion as Tia has to choose whether to risk all to save the kingdom -and her family.
The Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley, is, as author Tosca Lee put it, "an exquisite story of intrigue, elegantly told and rich with all the flavors of ancient Babylon." This novel was extremely well written and researched. I could easily imagine myself in ancient Babylon along with the Daniel, Tia, and Pedaiah. Even though the book was based on the biblical story of Nebuchadnezzar, the plot line was still wonderfully woven with secrets, intrigue, and unexpected twists which kept me glued to the book. The tone of The Garden of Madness was also well developed. For example, at times when Tia was struggling with the spiritual battle she felt around her, the tone was extremely oppressive and dark, and the reader actually felt the darkness and evil that surrounded Tia. At other points the tone was one of madness and actually made me feel dizzy.
The characters of the Garden of Madness were beautifully well written and developed as well. As a reader, I could easily identify with Tia and picture her in my mind. Her growth and development throughout the book were heartwarming to see, and her changing opinions as she learned more about God gave her new perspectives on life and relationships that brought an incredible turn in the story. Pedaiah was also an enigmatic and changing character. One was able to see his wisdom, love, and kindness as the story progressed, and it made him even more likable. I also enjoyed seeing Tracy Higley's perspective of Daniel as well as his wise words to both Tia and Pedaiah.
Some of the themes that I saw in the Garden of Madness were the importance of love, especially God's love for all people, Jews or Gentiles regardless. This novel emphasized the fact that God's love is not for one people group alone. Another theme was that a relationship with God affects all parts of that person's life: their love for others, their worldview, and their relationships with others. There are several parts at the end of this book where it was incredible to remember the power that God gives those who believe in Him against the evil of the devil.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, and I cannot wait to read more of Tracy L. Higley's Seven Wonders of the Ancient World novels.
I received this novel for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.