One of the most intriguing stories in the bible is that of Queen Esther. It’s no wonder authors love to create fiction with her Disney Princess-like tale. And while no novelist can truly know exactly what she was like, some do compose marvelous renditions. Others, not so much. Sometimes I wish I could take the characters and setting from one book and the writing style of another to make my own personal perfect version! But that would be ridiculous, and besides I believe each author should be acknowledged for the way they create.
This is a compilation of the top Esther stories that I feel merit recognition, for better or for worse.
Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links. If you use a link to make a purchase, I earn a small commission 🙂 For more info, check out the disclosure page. All opinions are 100% my own. P.S. I only link books that I actually like and personally recommend!
This seems like the obvious place to start! Most of you have probably read, or at least heard of the book of Esther in the bible. Maybe not. Either way, here’s the gist of it:
The book of Esther (found right after Nehemiah and right before Job) starts off with King Xerxes’ six month long banquet, immediately followed by a shorter banquet of seven days. At the same time, Queen Vashti is hosting her own feast.
On the seventh day, after wine had been flowing abundantly for a week, the now half drunk King Xerxes demands that his beautiful queen be brought before him wearing her crown. So that all the (drunk) men might gaze upon her beauty (ew).
When Queen Vashti refuses to come, King Xerxes burns with anger. He asks his officials and advisers what should be done about a queen who refuses to obey the king’s orders. They promptly tell him that the Queen has wronged not only the King but also but every official and citizen in the empire, convincing him that every woman will despise her husband when they learn that Queen Vashti refused her king. Then they advise him to issue a decree to banish Vashti from his presence forever and choose a new queen.
So the king’s attendants search the empire to find beautiful young virgins. A Jew named Mordecai had adopted his cousin Esther when her parents died. And because of the king’s decree, she is sent to the harem at the fortress of Susa (Mordecai told her not to tell anyone she was Jewish). Hegai, the eunuch in charge, is very impressed with Esther, giving her seven maids and the best place in the harem.
After twelve months of beauty treatments, it is Esther’s turn to go to the king’s bed. He loves her more than any other woman, and delighted in her so much that he put a crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
A while later Haman becames Prime Minister, but Mordecai refuses to bow before him. So Haman, with the king’s permission, decides to take revenge on not just Mordecai but on all Jews by annihilating them. Mordecai sends word to Esther, urging her to go the king and beg for mercy. Since appearing before the king is against the law (punishable by death), Esther asks her cousin to rally the Jews to fast and pray for three days, while she and her maids do the same, and says “If I must die, I am willing to die”.
So Esther goes to the king, and hooray her husband doesn’t kill her! She invites him and Haman to a banquet, then to another the next evening. Meanwhile Haman is plotting to hang Mordecai for his unbowing ways. But that night the King can’t seam to sleep, so he reads some boring old historical records and comes to the part where Mordecai saved Xerxes’ life once by warning him about assassins plotting to kill him. Of course King Xerxes asks Haman how a man should be properly honored, and self centered Haman describes to the king exactly what he would want. How hilariously ironic when Haman himself is forced to honor Mordecai, the man he hates.
When Haman arrives at Queen Esther’s second banquet, she spills the beans to King Xerxes about Haman’s plans to destroy all Jews, which includes herself and Mordecai. So Haman is hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai, and the king issues another decree stating that the Jews can and should defend themselves. But they don’t plunder, even though they’re expressly allowed to do so. Mordecai then inherits Haman’s estate and title, and the Jews all rest and celebrate with feasting and gladness.
Sometimes I feel a little conflicted about this story. I mean, it must have been a scary thing to belong to the king like property. Especially when he has hundred’s of concubines, and women of the day weren’t worth much. But maybe one day in Heaven, Esther will hang out with me and tell me all about what it was like to be Queen of Persia.
This is probably my favorite Queen Esther book. While it’s a little “safe”, I still enjoyed the characters. The entire book is told through alternating point of views between Hadassah (Esther) and Harbonah (a eunuch). Typically I’m not a fan of switching POV, but at least this way we get a good look into the kings life as well as Esther’s. Also, the author did an excellent job of keeping it historically accurate while enriching the story into a novel. 4/5.
This retelling of Queen Esther I found is probably the most strait forward and easily read. In fact, I’d probably call it a summer or beach book, in the sense that it doesn’t use up too much of your daily quota of brain concentration to read it. I’d also add that it’s definitely more of a romance novel. Not totally true to the original story (the author often left out or added quite a few things), but I still enjoyed it. 3/5
I’m not a huge fan. This is definitely a darker version of Queen Esther’s story, which I feel like doesn’t do it proper justice. Esther is one of the coolest books in the bible, why make it so brooding and depressing? I just didn’t really enjoy Esther as a character to be perfectly honest. I think if this book were rich with vibrant and beautiful personalities, it would have been so much better! As far as being accurate to the story, I don’t have too many complaints worth mentioning, besides a borderline affair. 2/5.
Game Of Queens by India Edghill
This rendition of Queen Esther is very different. First of all I like to mention what I enjoy about a book. I’m a fan of this writer’s style, her characters are (mostly) unique and interesting, and there’s no shortage of good wit. Also I can appreciate when a common story is told from a different and unique approach. Or rather, I would have liked it had the author at least bothered to tell a somewhat accurate account. This book kept reminding me of the movies “Noah” and “Exodus”. All of which are stories taken from the bible, but completely butchered and totally missing the whole point all together!
While it’s kind of interesting that Daniel (and the lion’s den) and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (and the fiery furnace) are part of this Esther story, The author took MANY liberties here. It just makes me think, how would you feel if someone retold your story and simply explained away all of your greatest moments and miracles? It’s really too bad that the author paid so little respect to the actual bible stories and their beautiful messages and lessons.
I actually threw this book across the room a few times. I can’t remember the last time I was so frustrated with a book. In all honesty, I didn’t completely finish it. I couldn’t. I re-picked it up so many times and give it more chances than I should have. Way too much (totally unnecessary) perverseness. So just be aware, it is definitely NOT Christian Fiction. 1/5.
This is actually not a story about Queen Esther, but I think it still bears mentioning. It’s a book based on a true story about a Jewish girl from France who dressed as a boy and ended up on the shores of eastern Canada. I tend to be fascinated with our nation’s history, so of course I enjoyed reading this. It’s an interesting tale in it’s own right. I thought the insight into Jewish heritage and the Catholic religion were decently portrayed, and I appreciated the poignant message of desire for freedom. While I would categorize it as YA, there were a few course words used and some very descriptively unpleasant scenes (which I guess is only to be expected). 3/5.