Historical Novels for Engaging Thinkers Review

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Review by Bridgette Taylor

The Historical Novels for Engaging Thinkers by Brimwood Press is highly recommended by HSG. These novels are available as a complete set. Please check out the individual reviews below.

Secret of the Scribe by Jennifer Johnson Garrity is a historical fiction novel that packs quite an adventure. The story follows Tabni, a young Sumerian girl who grows up in comfort as a slave to the queen until she is forced to flee under the cover of night. Her only way to support herself is her ability to write. We follow her as she takes us to the most beautiful and the most dreadful parts of the city Ur. We agonize and rejoice with her as she makes difficult decisions that test the vengeance of the gods.

Garrity weaves a tale that portrays daily life in ancient Sumer while exploring Christian answers to polytheistic and monotheistic Christianity. She offers italicized words with counterparts in the glossary making it easy for the student to find the meaning of words no longer in our modern vocabulary.

Although Secret of the Scribe follows a young girl, this novel will be a delight to either a girl or a boy as it is not short on action. Garrity’s prose takes you effortlessly from chapter to chapter. This unforgettable story will lead you and your child to a greater understanding of the truth of our modern day Christian beliefs.

Secret of the Scribe is also sold as a set with the companion book Christian Theology and Ancient Polytheism. For review on the companion guide, click here.

The Jeweled Astrolabe by Jennifer Johnson Garrity follows a fourteen year old boy named Gavriel ben Solomon Zafrani, a Spanish Jew. Gavriel is to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a hakim, a respected physician. However, Gavriel is unhappy about his future prospects. Just when he is beginning to resign himself to his fate, a door opens up for him revealing possibilities he had only dared imagine.

There is no shortage of adventure as we follow Gavriel through his journey into a mysterious land, and thusly, into his worst nightmare. A two-page map at the beginning of the book provides the reader with a visual to follow. Garrity surprises us at every turn and keeps students and teachers alike in anticipation of the next plot twist. The whole family will fall in love with Garrity’s characters as they come alive on each page. We see how their decision and beliefs effect their lives, and how they are or are not changed by their experiences. While Gavriel and his counterparts do not always agree with Christian beliefs, this book provides a looking glass into the worldviews of ancient cultures, and how those beliefs affect the characters. The Jeweled Astrolabe is a treasure for the home-schooled child or anyone who desires to have a better understanding of the worldview.

Beneath the Cat’s Claw by Jennifer Johnson Garrity from the series Historical Novels for Engaging Thinkers.

This third novel in the series takes us through Revolutionary France as seen through the eyes of eleven year old Josette Durand, a maid in the Duplay household.

Josette feels lucky to be a maid to such a prestigious family, serving such honored guests as Maximilian Robespierre. However, she quickly comes to realize that all is not as it seems. The Duplay family has many secrets and our poor Josette is plunged headlong into the thick of it. We journey with her as she uncovers the truth, allowing us, the reader, to feel what it was like to be in France during the tumultuous time of the Revolution.

Garrity’s exciting prose drives the reader to turn the pages faster and faster until the Revolution is brought to the Duplay’s very doorstep. Through Garrity’s convincing characters we can come to understand the beliefs of the early modern people, and thusly, how that applies to our modern Christian worldview. Garrity’s series is a must have for the home-schooling family.

Rebel On The Path by Jennifer Johnson Garrity is the fourth in her series Historical Novels for Engaging Thinkers. In this exciting novel we follow Yang Sunjin, a twelve year old Korean boy who is experiencing war within and without. His beloved country, Korea, has been captured by the Japanese in this WWII setting. Sunjin’s father has also been captured and forced into slavery. This leads to Sunjin being forced to take a Japanese surname so that he can attend school. Being a Korean, Sunjin is at the mercy of his Japanese school master and the other students. He is humiliated at every turn, and this grows inside him a great storm. Sunjin is soon torn between his Buddhist religious beliefs of peace above all else and his desire to defend his people and regain their homeland.

Garrity keeps you at the edge of your seat in this adventurous novel. Boys and girls alike will be caught up with her enthralling characters while they learn what the cultural mind was like during WWII Korea. Students will have a unique look into another time, culture, and religion allowing them to develop an extensive worldview. This book will facilitate discussion on modern belief systems so as to enrich their understanding of our accurate Christian beliefs. This book is one of Garrity’s finest and her Historical Thinking series is a must-have for the home-schooling family.

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