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The Hidden Flame (Book 2 of the Acts of Faith Series) Review by Krystin Corneilson

Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
Bethany House Publishers
800-877-2665 (ordering number)
P.O. Box 6287
Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

The Hidden Flame is the second historical novel in the Acts of Faith Series. Set in first-century Judea after the death of Jesus, the fledgling church is developing into a powerful entity that Rome can't ignore. The followers of the Way have Peter as a leader in a growing, thriving community where love and service go hand in hand. The reader gets to know Abigail, one such follower, whose hand in marriage is sought by a Hebrew merchant and a Roman soldier, opposite ends of the political and religious spectrum. Abigail, however, loves neither, which creates a rippling effect of conflict. The hand of God is present throughout the story as faith is tested and either strengthened or destroyed, miracles are performed, and the vivid battle of God versus evil continues.

There is nothing like great historical fiction to make history come alive! Reading about Peter in the Bible is fascinating and wonderful and has made me wonder what it was like to be there with him, especially from the perspective of a woman. The Hidden Flame put me in the same community with him, serving alongside him. The challenges they faced are not minimized or glamorized, but are written plainly enough for me to feel the pain, joy, anguish, fear, and courage of Abigail and other characters.

Because of its sometimes graphic realism, this book is appropriate for mature teens and adults. It can be used as a supplement to Bible study, for a book club, or just for enjoyment. Reading Book 1 first isn't necessary, to which I can attest. I do, however, want to go back and read it to add even more color to the story lines. Finally, the included maps of Jerusalem and Jerusalem's Temple helped me to visualize the scenes even better.

Pros: Reading God's Word is so important. So is understanding and appreciating it in richer ways. While The Hidden Flame isn't true non-fiction, its obviously well-researched setting, characters, and plot provided me with new insight for what I had already read in the Bible. It was easy to read, savor, and enjoy.

Cons: I can't wait to read the next one! Truly, I don't have anything negative to say.

Historical fiction is my favorite genre. Textbooks can be dry and it's too easy to breeze over Scripture without digging in and asking questions like "What was it like in Jerusalem?" and "How did the new church survive?" and "Just who was Stephen?" Reading a novel can fill in some of the details to give us a more complete picture and, ultimately, make us want to dig deeper into God's Word--just like The Hidden Flame did for me!

Product Review by Krystin Corneilson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2010