Wednesday, March 23, 2011

REVIEW: Delilah by India Edghill

As a young girl, Delilah was given over to the temple of Atargatis to be trained in the ways of a priestess. Shortly after arriving she meets Aylah, another "new moon" and discovers her true calling: dancing. Together she and her "heart-sister" Aylah are trained to be the best dancers in the temple-Delilah as the moon with her dark complexion and raven black hair and Aylah as the sun with her creamy skin and blonde hair. Soon they are the most in demand dancers in all of the Five Cities. The leaders of the city Derceto, High Priestess of Atargatis and Prince Sandarin live in fear of one man. He is Samson a Hebrew who is rumoured to have the God-like strength who along with his foxes wreaks havoc among the Philistines.

They would do anything to secure his downfall. When Samson travels to the temple with his companion Orev, he sees Delilah dance and falls in love with her but a cruel trick keeps them apart. When tragedy strikes Derceto and Sandarin conspire to use Delilah to bring about Samson's downfall but Delilah has her own idea about things.

Edghill's Delilah re-imagines the entire story of Samson and Delilah. In the Bible Delilah is featured only briefly and is cast as a temptress and betrayer. Here she is a young girl with a passion for dance, a kind heart, and an undying love for Samson. Samson is not the man portrayed in the Bible either. Cast as something of a demi-god there, here he is strong but is a rather ordinary man who lets his heart lead him into dangerous situations against the sound counsel of Orev. The stories of his great feats passed among the cities are just that-stories- which are used by the rebel group calling them Samson's foxes to achieve their means.

The story alternates between chapters focusing on Delilah, Samson, Aylah, Derceto, Sandarin, and a few of the other minor characters and is broken into three sections corresponding with Delilah's advancement through the Priestess ranks as new moon, half moon and finally full moon. I thought breaking the book down this way worked really well. I also thought the relationship ship between Delilah and Aylah and their devotion to each other was touching.

One area I thought could have done with a little more attention was why the five cities had such a fear of Samson. Their reasons for being so afraid of him seemed to be based purely on rumor and hearsay. For someone who has not read much of the Bible, I thought the whole conflict could have been explained a little better. Also if I find a flaw with a book it is usually in the romance department. I have a hard time buying love at first sight scenarios and that is what occurred between Samson and Delilah. They never even spoke to each other before Samson decided he loved her and had to marry her. That doesn't happen in reality. Still, the story was told well enough where this didn't really bother me as much as it usually does.

I like to read books that tell the stories of women in the Bible who are often shown in an unfavorable light and relegated to just a few sentences. Out of all the biblical related historical fiction I've read, I have to say this is one of my favorites. I enjoyed getting to know this version of Delilah-vixen and deceiver she was not!

I received this book as a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway from the publisher. I have received no compensation for this review and these are my honest thoughts on the book.


  1. I have this book on my shelf and I am looking forward to reading it. I too like to read novels based on these Biblical women.

  2. I love books like this, that flesh out these women who are otherwise sort of static -- and I've always had a soft spot for Delilah!