Monday, July 12, 2010

Mary Magdalene, Her Legacy

Bettye Johnson
Living Free Press (2010)
ISBN 9780578049762
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views


What appeared to be just another ordinary day in the quiet life of former adventurers, Ellen and Peter, quickly started a series of events that will forever change their lives as well as lives of those close to them. While Ellen was walking through the forest, she encountered a strange old man, who informed her that he had something to place in her care. As quickly as he appeared, he also disappeared again, leaving the stunned Ellen with and old portmanteau at her feet.  Upon closer inspection and consultation with their friends, Ellen and Peter discovered that they have been most likely left with some documents connected to their earlier adventure, where they discovered scrolls with the legacy of Mary Magdalene. They embark on another perilous journey of discovery, only to have their lives and happiness threatened in many ways by an unscrupulous villain who is intent on gaining possession of those newly discovered documents for his own goals.


"Mary Magdalene, Her Legacy" by Bettye Johnson spins a complex tale of mystery and intrigue, interspersed with many musings on life, love and interpretations of history. While I have certainly enjoyed several aspects of the story, most notably the contents of the scrolls and the message they deliver, I have also noticed several issues which diminished my enjoyment of the story. I believe that hiring a good copy editor would have caught many of them, and in such a way made for a more believable and solid book. The punctuation was random, the French less than stellar and while the misspelled "Deux Maggots" provided a good chuckle on my part, I would have by far preferred a spell-checked and proofread work. The writing clearly shows the immense amount of research and reading the author must have done in preparation for this book, but the sheer overabundance of issues (anything from stem cell transplants to levitation, from telepathy to dematerialization…) made me feel like Ms. Johnson wanted to include everything she's ever read, seen or experienced in one book, and somehow that made this work too complex and too wordy to really enjoy. Sometimes less is truly more. I have also found the characters very two-dimensional and the dialogue rather stiff.


Having said that, I will add that I did enjoy those previously mentioned aspects, namely the scrolls and the message they contain, as well as the bold and actually quite believable statements about Mary Magdalene and her family. It was refreshing to see such an audacious work clearly praising several extremely strong and strong-willed women, and providing us with a believable and uplifting message.  Although "Mary Magdalene, Her Legacy" is fiction, it presents a believable alternative history and delivers a worthy message. I have no doubts that this book will appeal to many readers, particularly those who enjoy books about ancient mysteries and those who do not shy away from strong female characters.

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