Book Review: Giver of Wonders by Roseanna M. White

Roseanna M. White is a writer of historical fiction.  She has a series set in American history (Culper Ring series), British history (Ladies of the Manor series), and a set of novels set in the days of early Christianity.  Her most recent release, Giver of Wonders, falls into the latter category.

I became a fan of Roseanna White upon my first reading of book one in her Culper Ring sesoft breath of windries, Ring of Secrets.  What intrigued me the ring of secretsmost was its unique heroine, who pretended to be aloof in order to gain enemy secrets during America’s War for Independence.  It was a creative premise, and one that I appreciated.  Since then, my favorite book of hers has been A Soft Breath of Wind.  It’s a moving story that delves into the spiritual realm and warfare that is found behind the veil.  Once again, that story grabbed me with its captivating characters who embodied real emotional and spiritual struggles.

– Publisher’s Plot Summary –

giver of wonders

A miracle once saved her life ~ will another give her a future?

Cyprus was little more than a child when a fall left her paralyzed…and when the boy known as the wonder-worker healed her. Ever since, she has wondered why the Lord spared her, what he has in store for her. But her pagan father thinks she was spared solely so she could be introduced to the wealthy wonder-worker, Nikolaos.

Nikolaos has never questioned that his call in life is to dedicate himself to the church and to God. Never, that is, until he and his cousin Petros meet the compelling Cyprus Visibullis. For years he struggles with the feelings she inspires…and with the sure knowledge that Petros loves her too.

Petros knows he will never be good enough for Cyprus’s father to consider him as a match for his favorite daughter not as long as Nikolaos is there. But when tragedy strikes the Visibullis family, he will do anything to save his beloved. Unfortunately, his beloved is determined to do anything to save her sisters ~ even at the cost of herself.

As the festival of lights bathes their Greek city in beauty, Cyprus, Petros, and Nikolaos celebrate the miracle of their Savior s birth together one last time. And in remembrance of their Lord’s greatest gift, one of them will make the ultimate sacrifice for the others…and a centuries-long tradition will be born.

– Book Review –

While I bought this book immediately (a normal thing for me to do with Roseanna M. White’s novels), it took me a while to pick it up for reading.  It’s not really anyone’s fault but my own.  I tend to have an inexplicable aversion to stories that center around the holidays.  Give me a good book any day – but if you pitch it to me under the disguise of “A Christmas Story” I have some serious doubts about whether I’ll enjoy it or not.

So here we were, almost four months after the holiday season, and I finally picked it up.  I’m glad I did.

White succeeds again with her main characters in this novel.  Cyprus is a consistent character whose doubts are, at once, shocking and natural.  As she struggles with how to live her own faith – and how that faith ultimately appears to others, the story rang true.  She aims to live well, and while her friends recognize this, others who don’t know here as well misinterpret her intentions and actions, much to her own dismay.  In the middle of these doubts are the two men in her life who see her truly and love her because of what they see.  Petros and Nikolaos had the potential to create an awkward love triangle (so tired of those!!), but their struggles with how to walk alongside Cyprus rang of authenticity instead of frustratingly inane actions.

In the end, this is a story of love.  Cyprus and her love for her sisters and her friends.  Petros and his love for Cyprus and her sisters.  And Nikolaos as he yearns to love all people in the way God is calling him to.

The end, as one would imagine, ties everything up in a neat little bow.  I was frustrated with that, but upon stepping back, I doubt there was any way White could have written the ending differently.  This is, after all, a story that tells of the tradition of Saint Nicholas.  How else could an author end but for him to bestow gifts?

– Summary –

All in all, the characterization in this book is wonderful.  Cyprus is one who will stay with me for a while.  While the ending still sits awkwardly with me (my guess is it’s because of the Christmas theme that I have that weird aversion to), I did find this book to be an enjoyable read.  It’s another by Roseanna M. White that I can recommend to my historical fiction-loving friends.

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