Book Review: The Queen’s Handmaid

3 Apr

686840From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.
But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to a family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.



THigley-213Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at age eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored many novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at


My Impressions:

Tracy L. Higley consistently writes well-research historical novels with a fictional thread that not only fits the context, but adds depth and meaning. In The Queen’s Handmaid, Higley tackles the story of the Herodian, Hasmonean and Ptolemaic dynasties during the expansion of the Roman Empire. Sound daunting? Well think about the importance of this time in history — three decades before the birth of Christ. This was a time I new little about, but The Queen’s Handmaid put the political and spiritual implications in perspective for me. A great read for fans of Biblical history.

Lydia is the nursemaid for Cleopatra’s son Caesarion. An orphan with no idea of her family origins, she finds family in those she serves and serves with. But she has often found that relationships end and often painfully. So she keeps her distance while drawing people to herself at the same time. Through her studies with Samuel, Lydia is placed in a position to serve the Jewish One God, and this places her on a spiritual journey from Egypt through Rome to Judea, as she serves as the handmaid for wives of influential leaders of the time.

The reigns of the Ptolemys and the Herodians are filled with cruelty, murder and incest (at least in modern terms). They married uncles, nieces and cousins and had no compunction in killing anyone on their way to power, including wives, brothers and children. They also repeated the same names, even within the same generation, causing some identification problem for this reader. Higley does include genealogies to help with this. And while there are huge power struggles — Greek Ptolemys ruling Egypt and Idumean Herodians conquering Judea — it is the portrayal of the Jewish spirit of independence and the anticipation of the Messiah that brings this novel a depth perhaps not seen in the historical record. Lydia’s character, while fictional, is realistic. Her quiet strength, faithfulness and determination draw others to her, while also garnering her very formidable enemies. Her struggle to find identity, which leads her to the One God, is one we all face. The quest entrusted to her by her mentor, Samuel, doesn’t end with the last page of the novel, and I am looking forward to seeing just where her story will take us. Hopefully her next stop will be among the Wise Men of the East.

Not a quick read — there is just too much history and political intrigue to digest — it is, nevertheless, a page turner. I recommend The Queen’s Handmaid to those who want to know more about the time leading up to Jesus’s birth. The words, In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1), just might take on a new meaning.


(Thanks to Thomas Nelson and LitFuse for my review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

For more reviews, click HERE.

To purchase this book, click on the image below.


The Queen’s Handmaid is the latest from author Tracy L. Higley. CBA Retailers gave it this glowing review: “Rich in historic detail, Higley’s vivid writing brings to life the plots and intrigues that swirled through the ancient world as alliances were built and broken on the calculated schemes of power-mad monarchs.”
Tracy is celebrating the release with a fun giveaway.

queenshandmaid-400-click-1A Kindle Fire HDX

The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced April 21st on Tracy’s blog.


%d bloggers like this: