What happens when a sixteen-year-old Egyptian princess has visions of modern-day Chicago and a raven-haired ballerina who is having visions of her at the same time? Two souls are inexplicably connected, channeling one another in moments of stress and uncertainty and drawing on the other’s strengths. As their connection begins to disrupt their lives in even greater ways, however, each embarks on a desperate search for answers that will change them forever.
This is a particularly difficult review to write. When a story is told from multiple perspectives, a narrative imbalance can develop in which one perspective overshadows another; when this happens, the success of the book as a whole depends on how the two perspectives come together. The God’s Wife read like two stories arbitrarily sandwiched together because of one minor plot point that is unequally represented on either side and leads to a wholly unsatisfying conclusion. With that in mind, I will address Neferet’s story separately from Rebecca’s before further commenting on the book as a whole.
Neferet is the daughter of the Pharaoh and his Great Wife, the only full-blooded royal child of Kemet (Egypt, in the Egyptian language). She is appointed by her mother to become the God’s Wife of Amun, the second-highest position in the kingdom, after her predecessor and half-sister Maya is found murdered in the sacred temple. As she takes on her new responsibilities and learns the full implications of her position, she discovers that she has been placed as a pawn in an elaborate scheme to dispatch the Pharaoh and place her non-royal half-brother Zayem on the throne of Kemet. Together with her other half-brother Kamose and his network of spies, she must uncover the truth to save her father, her kingdom, and herself.
On occasion, Neferet has dreams and moments of insight into a world not her own, a world of metal and glass, and a woman who seems somehow familiar. She feels encouragement and empowerment from the strange woman at her moments of greatest uncertainty and danger, though she cannot figure out why they are connected.
The story of the God’s Wife draws the reader into the customs of ancient Egypt and an expertly crafted tale of suspense. Neferet is a likeable heroine, and while some supporting characters are more prevalent than others they provide a third dimension to the story nonetheless. While the conclusion to her story is somewhat predictable, it is no less satisfying and takes nothing away from the well-written journey to get there.
Rebecca Kirk has been suffering from blackouts that are happening ever more frequently not only when she sleeps, but while she dances. She has just snagged a career-making role as Aïda in the show of the same name, and while her connection to ancient Egypt is inspiring her to new heights, it also threatens to derail her performance before she can really begin. Concerned boyfriend Jonas urges her to see a doctor, while rival Lenore plots to use her fugues against her. Things become more complicated when Rebecca meets Sharif, a self-proclaimed Egyptologist who says he has the answers to her questions. Can Rebecca find the connection with the girl in her visions before they overtake her for good?
Unlike Neferet’s story, Rebecca’s is disjointed and choppy. The primary focus is on Rebecca’s search for the reason for her blackouts, and everything else – the setting, the supporting characters – reads like so much filler. Additionally, an editing error on page 81 eliminates an indeterminate number of pages and jumps from a recollection to the present day with no effective transition or explanation. Sharif is not a part of the story, and then without introduction he takes center stage, which is only the beginning of his convoluted purpose through the end of the book. Transitioning from Neferet’s perspective to Rebecca’s is consistently jarring and slows the story down.
Finally, the connection between Neferet and Rebecca is never effectively explored: Neferet nearly ignores the phenomenon until the very end, while Rebecca’s entire story is consumed by it. The only moments when the two are synced are when Rebecca’s research inspires Neferet in a dream to discover the same concept, and at the conclusion of their respective stories – a wholly dissatisfying conclusion that underscores the gap in the quality of the two stories.
The God’s Wife would be worthy of five stars if it was only about Neferet and her journey, completely eliminating Rebecca and the concept of their supernatural/spiritual connection. Unfortunately, the book as a whole leaves a great deal to be desired.
Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fianc é and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Pump Up Your Book Virtual Tours. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.