“Tracy is thrilled to bring readers adventures set in the ancient past, and it’s her hope that in escaping with her, readers will feel they’ve walked through these deserts, explored ruins, felt the white sand and blue sea under their feet, and met with the Redeeming God who is sovereign over the entire drama of human history.”
Few authors accomplish this task better than Tracy Higley. Her knowledge of and appreciation for ancient cultures shines through every story she pens, and Isle of Shadows is no exception. Set on the Greek Island of Rhodes only seven days before the earthquake that forever changed its landscape, this story places the reader in the midst of a political power struggle. Ambitious men scheme to gain leverage over rivals and vie for the opportunity to possess the advantage of having Tessa of Delos by their side.
But Tessa, the island’s most famous hetaera, is weary of being a pawn in their selfish games. Though she is sought after as a political asset, she is not an equal, nor is she free. Her fate rests in the hands of the men who have enough wealth to purchase her services. Once in their employ, she is subject to their authority in every way. Repulsed by them and desperate for freedom, she seeks the only escape available to her: “In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhodes still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tessa of Delos planned to open her wrists.”
Tessa’s sense of despair grips the reader and offers a connection with this woman whose beauty and intelligence have shackled her to a life she loathes. Though she has survived for years by becoming as cold and unfeeling as the statue of Helios that towers over the city, the events of seven short days change her life forever.
In a desperate act of rebellion, Tessa openly defies her patron, inciting his anger. The argument that ensues between them leads to his death and, in turn, will lead to hers if she cannot find a way off the island before the truth is discovered. In a race against time, Tessa searches for the path to true freedom.
She finds that path with the help of three unlikely accomplices: a young girl as desperate for escape as Tessa, a mysterious man who is willing to take orders instead of give them, and an elderly Jew whose fatherly affection touches her heart like nothing else could. In her final bid for freedom, Tessa must gamble her future on these three people, seven frenetic days, and one impossible task.
The action that unfolds as Tessa races the clock makes for a fast-paced read that not only transports readers to an exotic locale, but also guides them on a journey of faith. Watching Tessa’s frosty demeanor warm and thaw under the influence of a helpless child’s need, a strong man’s respect, and an old man’s kindness breathes life into her search for freedom.
We understand Tessa’s desire to wall herself off from pain, but we also recognize that in doing so, she creates her own prison, locking herself away from the ability to love and be loved. We understand the timeless truth her Jewish friend teaches her, that “with the pain will come freedom. The freedom to love God with all your heart, and to feel that love for others, and from others.” It’s only when Tessa surrenders to this truth that she finds the will to live and the strength to endure regardless of the circumstances.
Isle of Shadows, like all of Higley’s books, entertains the mind and touches the soul. Her love for history comes through in the rich detail of the story, and her passion for God reaches across the page to kindle hope and warm the heart. I would encourage you not to miss the experience. Tracy is one of my favorite authors, and I highly recommend this title.
To learn more about Tracy, her books, and her travels, visit her website. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a free copy of Isle of Shadows or one of her other titles. I look forward to hearing from you!