The Mark of the King

Written by Jocelyn Green
Review by J. Lynn Else

This Christian fiction novel follows Julianne Chevalier, a 25-year-old Parisian midwife, after the tragic death of a client. She’s accused of fatal negligence, is branded with the Mark of the King, and sentenced to life in Salpêtrière prison. By chance, she is able to exchange her sentence for exile. She hopes to start a new life and find her brother Benjamin, a soldier in the French colony of Louisiana. However, only married women can make the journey, so Julianne must wed another convict. When Julianne arrives in New Orleans in 1720, her brother is not there, and military officer Marc-Paul Girard fears telling Julianne the truth about Benjamin’s fate. When Julianne and her husband’s search for Benjamin turns deadly, Marc-Paul suspects something more sinister is at work, which may strain relations with their Indian neighbors and put everyone in the colony at risk.

Jocelyn Green uses artistic language when recounting the 18th-century living conditions, relationships between the colonists and Indians, and practices in midwifery and medicine. Vivid imagery transports readers into the fledging colony. Themes of judgment and grace are contrasted thoughtfully and beautifully throughout Green’s narrative. The plot is layered and conveyed with much emotion. Julianne’s struggles with God and finding her place in the world provide compelling moments.

The real-life situations these colonists once lived through are harrowing, but skillfully and tastefully told through Green’s deft storytelling. Prepare to be shocked, angered, saddened, surprised, hopeful, and completely riveted as you read. Brimming with impressive historical details, complex characters, and an alluring plotline rich with unpredictable twists and turns, this is a touching novel that is highly recommended.