Land of Silence

Written by Tessa Afshar
Review by Lauren Miller

Elianna is still a young girl when she begins working in her father’s textile business, plagued by guilt over her younger brother’s death. A series of tragedies forces her to assume sole responsibility for the business, and despite her natural talents, which bring prosperity, nothing can buy the forgiveness she seeks. It seems as if God has cursed Elianna, and as illness strikes, she learns the heavy costs of protecting those she loves. Is she destined for a life of hardship, or is there still a chance for hope and healing?

This biographical fiction novel expands upon a story found in the eighth chapter of the book of Luke, wherein a woman having a blood disorder of twelve years touches the hem of Christ’s garment. All the Bible provides are six small verses, an anecdote really, of this unnamed woman, whom Afshar dubs Elianna. It is a compelling story of a woman who has spent her savings visiting different doctors, and trying multiple treatments, in an attempt to cure the incurable – in a word, she is relatable. Elianna’s resiliency through suffering is formidable, and her guilt, heart-breaking.

Afshar’s research into period medicine has unearthed some truly bizarre treatments which find their way into the course of the story, and which add interesting historical detail. The plot, however, is needlessly complicated by the main character’s dysfunctional disposition which, I found, made her unlikeable at best. For those interested especially in Biblical-based fiction, the subject matter Afshar tackles is unique, but like medicine, at times difficult to swallow.