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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: Blood and Silk by Carol McKay

Blood and Silk: The Hidden Love Story of Mary of Magdala and Jesus of Nazareth
by Carol McKay
Paperback, 328 pages
BookSurge Publishing
January 19, 2010
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Genre: Biblical Fiction; Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publicist for review
“Blood and Silk: The Hidden Love Story of Mary of Magdala and Jesus of Nazareth is author Carol McKay’s gift to everyone fascinated by the life of Mary of Magdala-Mary Magdalene-and her often misunderstood relationship to Jesus of Nazareth. In this beautifully crafted historical novel, the reader is guided through a time rich with art and architecture, and fraught with change and controversy. Mary’s narration introduces us to first-century Judea, when the atmosphere crackled with fear, and determination of friend or foe was often difficult, if not impossible. As much as theologians paint the story about Mary and Jesus as straightforward and even simple in nature, the author reminds us that theirs was a love weighed down and complicated by the politics of the day. The story of Mary, and then Mary and Jesus, is intricate and often as perilous as the times in which they lived. Founded on historical accuracy and an eye for a well-told story, this is a novel that will fascinate and delight.”

Since I discovered the Biblical fiction sub-genre of historical fiction I have been intrigued at reading more expanded accounts of some of the popular stories from the Bible. Prior to this book, I had read and very much enjoyed Eve by Elissa Elliott and The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy (links to reviews). I was interested in taking on this book because I am not extremely familiar with the content of the New Testament as I have always tended to lean toward the Old Testament. I wanted to take the opportunity to stretch my reading horizons and try something different.

I hate to say this, but I didn’t absolutely love this book. It was hard to get into what was happening and to follow the flow in some sections. At times I felt like there was a complete passage being retold word for word and it didn’t add to anything. I also have to question the editing of this book – it was a finished copy yet there were many instances where there were problems with singular and plural nouns and many grammatical errors – when added to my struggle to get into the story it just made it more of a turn off. I also didn’t really feel that much of a love story between Mary and Jesus. They would interact with each other here and there but I feel that the author left too much unsaid and to the imagination. For a book whose subtitle is The Hidden Love Story of Mary of Magdala and Jesus of Nazareth, I just didn’t feel the connection.

There is a positive side to this review though – I loved the way the setting, culture, and people were portrayed. Settings in this book include Jerusalem, Alexandria, and areas of Greece and France. You really got the feel for how the people lived day to day and how they celebrated their special occasions. There was also a lot of discussion of the politics of the period and how that had an impact on the life of the people. This is one of my favorite periods to read about and it was rendered beautifully.

My recommendation would be that this is certainly a book for those who are interested in the New Testament particularly. Those who have a casual interest in Biblical fiction might want to skip this one.

This is the author’s first novel.  You can also read an excerpt of the book if you are interested.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Great, honest review! Not my type of book, but it seems to have its good points. I wonder where France comes into the picture. I'm intrigued by that.

  2. Irena - thanks for the feedback - I think I'm going to be staying away from New Testament based books in the future. I'm not very religious but I find the stories from the Old Testament so much more interesting. I think France came into the picture as Gaul and might have been one of the places that she went into retreat/hiding (at least in the book!)

  3. Thanks for the honest review -- I've got a soft spot for Madgalene but not sure I could tolerate the bad editing. The cover is super striking, tho!

  4. You can't help but appreciate an honest review. Some books just aren't meant for some people. Great review though!

  5. Audra - I do like the cover. It was really hard to get past the editing.

    Carole Rae - I have to agree, thanks!

  6. I have this one on my TBR shelf. I'll get to it eventually. I am sure France came into it in a similar way to that brought up in the DaVinci Code. Now you have me curious about the ending.
    Thanks for the honest review. We can't always like everything, or sometimes anything, about a book.

  7. Librarypat - I wish I could remember how it was in the DaVinci code, I read it SO long ago! I hope you enjoy the book when you get to it!


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