Mesu Andrews is becoming one of my go-to authors for Biblical Fiction – she can take a time period from the Bible, mix in some interesting characters and tell a story both entertaining and educational regarding the Biblical record. By The Waters Of Babylon, second book in the Psalms Series, does all of that.
Different from all of Mesu’s other full-length novels, “By The Waters Of Babylon” actually has a completely fictional heroine, Merari. The hero, Idan, is a real historical person, but plays a part in the story that is fictional. (As far as we know.) *wink* This novella is based off of Psalm 137, that speaks of the Babylonian captivity and how the Jews hung their harps in the willow trees and refused to sing a song of Zion. I won’t go into spoilers, but I loovvveeeddd how this novella balanced the horrors of the Babylonian siege/captivity of Jerusalem with a lighter plot that involves some confusion of who Merari is. That confusion is very entertaining and gives the reader a few laughs in a story that could very well have been sad the whole way through. On the other hand, I also enjoyed how Mesu wove in a thread about a harp to match the Psalms theme to the fictional story. A music person myself, I know how heartbreaking it can be to see a beautiful instrument fall into the wrong hands, and reading how that thread of the story worked out was very touching for me. There is a bit of romance in the novella as well, but is well crafted and clean.
Conclusion: Though this is the second novella in the Psalms Series, it can read as a stand alone and does not require reading the series in order. I have always enjoyed Mesu Andrews books and this one is no different. A wonderful, quick read that takes you back in time to some of Israel’s darkest days, but leaves you with a hopeful ending. Well done!