The Heavens Before

Written by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow
Review by Michael I. Shoop

The first of a trilogy, this novel provides a plausible look at life on Earth just before the Great Flood, as well as imagining how three young women were chosen to become wives to the sons of Noah. Young Annah, the novel’s main focus, has been willingly mute and emotionally dead since witnessing her father’s brutal murder years earlier. Considered mad by the settlement and treated as less than a slave by her own family, a chance meeting with a young man across the river changes Annah’s life. The young man is Shem, one of Noah’s sons, and as their relationship flourishes, Annah’s existence at home worsens. It is only through much courage that she is rescued and becomes Shem’s wife. Once in Noah’s lodge, Annah learns about the family’s construction of the huge wooden animal “pen,” their concern for the earth’s survival, and their strong faith in the Most High. When two other young women enter their orbit, Noah’s family is made complete, and now they are ready for what they know will come.

The author deftly describes a world of great lushness and beauty, filled with cruelty and wickedness, heading for ultimate destruction. Once past the author’s somewhat disconcerting use of unfamiliar spellings of names (e.g., Noakh for Noah), this is an enjoyable read.