From Chapter 1, I couldn’t put down this Christian fiction novel, So Shines the Night (March 2013) by Tracy L. Higley. Daria is a young, beautiful scholar in first century Greece. She’s also a widow, harboring secrets about her late husband. Lucas is a charming merchant with a gregarious personality, who convinces Daria to flee to his home in Ephesus, and be employed as his tutor. But Lucas holds dark and painful secrets too, with regards to his own late wife. And upon returning to his dank and gloomy estate, which has been left in a state of disrepair since his wife’s death, he abruptly transforms into a brooding and temperamental rogue.
The couple slowly falls in love, but amidst much turmoil and uncertainty. Between the mainstream Ephesian worshipers of Artemis, a snidely group of occultist sorcerers, and a small faction of Jews (featuring the Apostle Paul) who call themselves “the Way”, Daria and Lucas become entangled in confusion, deceit and conspiracy as they seek the truth. Meanwhile, Daria tries to save Lucas from his self-destructive and guilt-ridden quest for vengeance against his wife’s murderers.
Lucas and Daria were strong characters. Higley weaves a hauntingly dark, gripping, gothic mystery/romance, and her descriptors of first century Greece, its culture and customs, are vivid. Her dialogue is also quite good. But mostly, I would call this novel an ancient Greek, Christianity-infused rendition of Jane Eyre. I will say, the twists at the end truly shocked me, but I got the love story I was hoping for.