Title: House of Rejoicing
Author: Libbie Hawker
Series: The Book of Coming Forth by Day #1
Publication: May 31st 2015 by Running Rabbit Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play
House of Rejoicing is Libbie Hawker’s long-awaited return to the lush decadence and dark power of ancient Egypt.
In the waning years of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty, when female power can only come at an unsettling price, four royal women struggle against the shadowy influence of Akhenaten, the infamous heretic Pharaoh. Akhenaten wields control of a strange, emerging religion unlike anything Egypt has seen. His power can’t be denied, but whoever can maintain her grip on the unpredictable Pharaoh will hold all of Egypt in her hands—and better still, will remain mistress of her own fate.
Tiy, once the undisputed might behind the throne, must choose to relinquish her hard-won influence, or manipulate the innocent in order to secure her hold on Akhenaten’s leash. Kiya, an idealistic foreign princess, will win Akhenaten with love—if he’s capable of feeling love at all. The celebrated beauty Nefertiti will use the Pharaoh for her own ends, turning the tables of a deadly political game to free herself from her ambitious father’s grasp. And Sitamun, kept imprisoned as the Pharaoh’s plaything, will defy the gods themselves to save her daughter from a similar fate.
House of Rejoicing is the first part in Libbie Hawker’s new ancient Egyptian series, The Book of Coming Forth by Day. The story will continue in Part Two, Storm in the Sky, in July of 2015.
House of Rejoicing was just incredible! I don’t know how it’s possible that I hadn’t read this book yet. I’ve had it on my Kindle for years until I randomly decided to start it and I ended up being so amazed by it. Now it’s my very favorite book set in ancient Egypt. I want to buy the sequel as soon as I can (yes it ends in a cliffhanger I gotta warn you but it’s a good one!).
House of Rejoicing is set during the 18th Dynasty in the Amarna period, which has always been one of my favorite periods in ancient Egypt and I’m sure it’s one of the most well-known periods too. I mean who hasn’t heard of Nefertiti and “the heretic Pharaoh” Akhenaten at least once? I’ve always been super fascinated by Akhenaten and how he abandended the traditional ancient Egyptians gods for worshipping the Aten. For most of the book Akhenaten is called Amunhotep (IV), which was his name before he changed it to what we know him as so for this review I’m going to call him Akhenaten to keep things more simple since his father is also called Amunhotep (III).
The book is told in the point of view of four women from the royal court and harem:
Tiy: The mother of Akhenaten, who once held the power behind the throne when her husband Amunhotep III ruled
Kiya: A princess send from Mitanni to marry Amunhotep III and who just wants to be happy and live her life.
Nefertiti: The ambitious beauty who was raised to become the next Pharaoh’s great-wife.
Sitamun: Tiy’s daughter and Akhenaten’s sister who just wants her brother to love her.
I loved reading about these four women so much. They were written in a way that wasn’t all black and white. They were definitely gray characters, sometimes having to do horrible things and yet I still felt for them and came to care about them as they struggled through those first years of Akhenaten’s reign.
I was quite surprised by how sometimes the story was pretty dark. I don’t know why I was surprised because the ancient world was often a cruel and unforgiving place especially towards the women but I can only admire the clever writing of the author and how she didn’t shy away from the tough topics. I also liked how motherhood played a huge part in this novel. Each main character had their own feelings and experiences with it, which were all very different from one another.
The writing was my absolute favorite part of this book. It made me feel as if I was really in ancient Egypt because of the detailed and beautiful descriptions Libbie Hawker gave us. It was simply magical to read! I’ve read short stories by her in the past but this book really made me curious to read more of her work, which I definitely intend to do. In fact, I’m already reading a different book by her that’s also set in ancient Egypt. So definitely expect another review soon!
About the author:
Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring complex characters and rich details of time and place. She is also the author of the runaway bestseller “how-to” guide for writers, Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing.
When she’s not writing, Libbie can be found in her garden, at her spinning wheel, or hiking the trails of San Juan Island, where she lives with her husband and three naughty cats.
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