- Author: Hannah Currie
- Publisher: WhiteCrown Publishing
- Available Now
- Synopsis: After four years of searching, Sir Darrek Drew discovers Lady Evangeline, the lost princess of Raedonleith, living as a servant in an enemy kingdom.
- Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.
NOTE: Due to a significant trigger/content warning, this review contains spoilers.
Luke 15:11-24; The Parable of the Prodigal Son (p. 1)
Bring Her Home is very clearly a fleshing out of the parable of the prodigal son, which I appreciated for several reasons. I really liked having the opportunity to enter into the parable in a new way, by reading an entire novel on the theme. The princess theme was so appropriate, considering that God is the Father in the parable (and princess stories are so fun to read! As an aside, White Crown Publishing, a branch of White Fire Publishing, is devoted to princess stories!). Plus, it was fun to read about a young woman in the story, rather than a young man, which I think really brings the parable to life for the story’s audience.
There is a lot of faith content throughout the story, including frequent prayers and references to the Almighty.
What I Liked
I finished reading this morning and breathe a contented sigh as I think about what I liked. As mentioned above, the fleshing out of the parable is great. I would say there is very little “veil” to the allegory. Anyone familiar with the story of the prodigal son can easily make the connection. In that sense, in spite of being a work of fiction, I feel that the book is very faithful to Jesus’ teaching– not in the sense of parroting Scripture, but in the sense of maintaining the meaning, and narrative, of His words.
Darrek is one of my favorite male protagonists, at this time. Whereas I usually cheer for the love interests in the story because the point of the story is for them to fall in love, I really liked Darrek as a person. He’s strong, brave and protective (and his good looks didn’t hurt!). I also thought that his pet name for Evangeline (which I won’t spoil due to its ties to the narrative) was very sweet. It felt both real and romantic, in a way that I could connect with (as opposed to just enjoying the romance on principle). Additionally, I was so happy with Darrek’s maturation as a character, as he learns the truth about who is really able to save people. So good!
King Lior was AMAZING! He is shown to be a fallible human being and not a God-character, but he so beautifully demonstrates the love that we see in the parable. While the parable features the one line about the father rushing out to embrace his son, we get to see how a person’s waiting and longing would sow into such a response. What a loving dad!
I really liked the “cleanness” of the romance. In addition to the fact that there wasn’t a ton of kissing, it is so refreshing when an author explicitly addresses the lie that one person can save another– and Currie does so.
“Lior” is, apparently, Hebrew for “my light.” Evangeline means “good news,” from the Greek. “Derek” seems to mean “gifted ruler,” although the spelling is a bit different than the character’s name. Similarly, “Maeve” can mean “she who rules.” Very appropriately, “Manning” refers to “a brave or valiant man.” (These meanings are from a casual google search).
While I was very happy with the execution of the romance, which would make this appropriate for most audiences, I do need to start out with a strong word of caution regarding a significant plot element. Self-harm plays a major role in the story, and I do have mixed feelings about its execution. On one hand, I feel that this element made sense in the novel, and really contributed to the effective embodiment of the prodigal daughter. Through Evangeline, we see not only a selfish child who has enjoyed a life of revelry, but a daughter who is also experiencing intense shame and real fear of returning home. Much of that shame has to do with the self harm, as well. Evangeline experiences grace, as Darrek sees her scars and loves her, not in spite of them, but simply because of who she is. (There’s one line in the story, to that effect, which I really liked).
On the other hand, while I get that the author’s point was to show a lavishing of grace, I was really uncomfortable, because there’s no strong indication that it is wrong to harm yourself in this way. The first time that self-harm entered the story, I felt nauseous. Evangeline, in her personal thoughts, explains why she does it, and I wouldn’t want readers to feel that this justifies the act or– worse still, that self-harm is an okay way to cope with things. As the story progresses, Darrek shows a lot of compassion, but the emphasis seemed to be on the fact that it was awful that she felt the need to cope in this way. We did see a little bit of discussion about her action being a choice, but I honestly felt that there was too much understanding for the self harm. There’s even a moment where Darrek punches a wall, rather than attack an evil man in retribution, and Eva thinks he “had done this for her,” which borders on romanticizing, to me.
In that regard, I’m not sure who the audience would be. While someone who struggles with self-harm could benefit from the gracious response that Darrek offers, I would not want them to have to rehash Evangeline’s rationale for doing what she does. For someone who doesn’t struggle with self-harm, but has other struggles with mental health, I do have the concern that the justification could make self-harm seem acceptable.
While I do feel very guarded about the content with regards to self-harm, there is much to commend in Bring Her Home. Recommended with strong reader discretion (and prayer!) to mature teen readers. I really did appreciate the parable adaptation.