I finally finished "Out of Egypt." The fact that I say "finally" is not a good sign. It really saddens me because I wanted to like this book. After all, the Vampire Lady had re-discovered the faith of her youth and is now writing for "our side." I guess that's still a reason to rejoice. Anne, after all, picked a difficult topic to start her Christian writing career. I'm afraid, however, that her work was probably a bit too realistic. Jesus, at seven years old, probably didn't do much out of the ordinary. Anne tried to make it suspenseful with a Jewish uprising and the ensuing plundering, murdering, and the unavoidable mass crucifixions. But it just wasn't enough. Dave Long apparently agrees with me. He did a write up at his blog, Faith in Fiction (link to the right). The POV of a seven year old gets a bit tedious, as anyone who's ever had a seven year old can tell you.
The book does have its high moments. Jesus shows exceptional wisdom to the Pharisees in Nazareth. Anne does a good job in showing that the residents of Nazareth remember Mary's "untimely" pregnancy. Although I thought she could have taken that much farther. Again, though, she may have restricted herself by keeping it in the boy Jesus' POV. The climax of the book has Jesus discovering the truth of his birth. This occurs during the pilgrimage to Jerusalem where Jesus disappears for three days. I had a real issue here because Anne chose to have this happen while Jesus is only eight years old. The Bible only gives us His age one time throughout all the scriptures—twelve years old at the time of this incident—and Anne ignores it. She covers a bit by saying he appeared to be twelve to the teachers around him. I'm thinking no. If you're already handicapped by lack of information for your historical figure, why throw out one piece of knowledge that's handed to you on a silver platter (pun intended)?
I've already mentioned the Catholic overtones. Since this is just a commentary on the book, I won't discuss Mary's perpetual virginity. By the way, Mary gets to tell the Christmas story from her POV at the end of the book while spilling all to her child. I liked that. It was well done and I give Anne credit for not hoisting Mary up as many might have. Mary remains a quiet, yet strong, young woman throughout the story. I rather liked her character. I also liked James, though he's older than Jesus in this story. I would expect James to be somewhat jealous of his brother after finding out the story surrounding his birth. The scene with James buying two doves as a sin offering at the temple for his hatred of Jesus is especially touching.
I believe Anne intends to make this a series, taking Jesus through his teen years. She'll have to up the tension a bit, because it was a struggle to keep my attention. It's kind of funny, though, that Christian writers are trying to open up the CBA to supernatural thrillers and suspense. In the meantime, one of the world's most successful supernatural thriller writers has backed off and now wants to write stories about Jesus.
I'm glad you're writing for the Lord now, Anne, but I can't think of a tougher way to go about it than writing about the Lord.