Palace of Darkness
By Tracy L. Higley
Published by Thomas Nelson
350 pages

Back Cover: In an ancient city carved from stone, one desperate young woman searches for peace—in the calm before the deadly clash of empires.

 In 106 AD, a single mother can be certain of one thing—destitution. So Cassia and her six-year-old son flee to Petra, her late husband's birth city, in hopes of finding refuge in the loving arms of family.
But the great stone city is not what Cassia imagined. And a secret about her husband reveals her son's true bloodline, making the boy the target of a royal conspiracy. 

In her darkest hours, Cassia finds herself surrounded by followers of the Way, a subversive new religious group whose disciples are frequently sentenced to arenas with starved lions and blood-soaked sand. Why would this sect seek out more danger by helping her? And what kind of religion gives freely and asks for nothing in return?

Roman soldiers soon surround Petra, immersing the city in panic and further endangering her son, and Cassia realizes he cannot be saved by human efforts alone. Her only hope lies with the followers of the Way . . . and her willingness to trust their One True God.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that grabbed my heart and never let got! I’m a Tracy Higley Fan. I love how this author takes me on adventures that are fascinating and I learn a thing or two along the way!

“The Behind the Story….and Beyond notes” (section at the back of the book); she has a picture of “The Treasury” made famous in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the authors says, “it’s a marvelous site, and so is the entire rock-carved City of Petra.”

You can go to this author’s website where you can escape into the music, food and feel of the places she is writing about. You can discover what fact is and/or fiction in her novels at her site. I like when authors do this. It helps me when I read the story! I like learning about the City of Petra from someone who’s been there. Tracy has journeyed to the places she writes about and takes lots of pictures, her familiarity comes through her writing.

Cassia and her 6 year old son are driven to Petra to find family. They both find more than they bargained for in this rock City of Petra. The city is an unfriendly place, until she meets Malik. He’s fed and clothed her and her son. She’s afraid of what he will ask or demand in return.

“Malik seemed to sense her concern. “It is a special joy of ours, to feed and to care for the sick and strangers, even the least of them. A special Joy.”

Cassia has never met a person like Malik. She later learns he’s a follower of Jesus. There are others that care for her the same as Malik. She doesn’t understand them or the God they serve. She is very grateful they have taken her and her son, Alexander under their protective care.

As she gets to know Malik and the other followers. She tells them who she is seeking. They try to help her but things get complicated. Malik says to Cassia, “It is a fearful and grievous thing to be unloved, and you have sought to never allow yourself to be that child again. You have instead used your fight to see the hearts of the people to mold yourself, to please a succession of men, of whom Aretas was the last. You let them control you, abuse you, trample the unique heart given to you by God. And you did all this believing they would love you in return……But now you have believed another lie……You believe that you cannot love and be loved and still be a woman of strength. This is not truth….You can have both, my child. Love and Strength. But only when the love of Jesus has taken your son and filled your heart!”

Cassia replies, “How?” The word barely escaped her tight throat. “How can I have both?”

Good word for Cassia and readers! Tracy writes powerful and moving stories that are relevant to us today. She does an amazing job of breathing life into these historical characters, having you instantly care for them in this captivating story I couldn’t put down. I was up late reading this one because I had no idea how this high energy and suspenseful story would end.

I highly recommend this for a great read and one that would be wonderful for a book club pick. Tracy has included sixteen discussion questions that will help create lively discussion in your group. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network

Book Fun Magazine


  1. Sounds like an awesome book, Nora. Your review definitely made me want to read it. Thanks for a great review! :)

  2. THANKS for stopping by. This was a great read. You won't be disappointed. I appreciate your encouragement!