Rich in descriptive prose and emotionally supercharged, Tessa Afshar’s latest novel Land of Silence takes biblical fiction to new heights. Derived from a story that graces three of the four canonical gospels, Afshar puts flesh and bone on the woman with the issue of blood. Elainna’s story proclaims how we all possess worth in Christ and by Him we are made whole and well.

Following the death of her brother, 16 year old Elianna becomes imprisoned by her shame as well as her father’s grief. Like quicksand threatening to swallow her completely, she strives to regain her father’s love while attempting to keep her family’s business afloat. I was encouraged by how — when assaulted on every front and after enduring years of physical illness — Elianna remained anchored in God through prayer and reading scripture.

When the story opens, Elianna is betrothed to Ethan Ben Ezer. Like Sarah and Darius from Tessa’s sophomore novel Harvest of Rubies, I couldn’t help but love this strong willed woman and her stubborn, but noble man. Hold on tight; the road they travel together is replete with potholes and harrowing twists.

For it’s depth and ability to evoke such strong feelings from this reader, Land of Silence earns a spot on my Best of 2016 book list. I feel this novel is for perfect for anyone who has ever felt a yawning chasm in their heart – whether self induced or pressed upon them by another. That should encompass just about everyone. Buy it, read it, and then read it again. I know I will!

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