SAINT ILLUMINATOR’S DAUGHTER
Friesen Press (2019)
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (11/19)
“Saint Illuminator’s Daughter” by Michael Ippen is a dual perspective historical fiction novel set in both New York City and Turkey. Half the novel follows Safir Turan, a Turkish immigrant befriended by Weldon Scott, a senator who claims to know her family. The other half follows a much younger Weldon in his work with the Red Cross.
“Saint Illuminator’s Daughter” examines a tragic piece of history in a respectful and engaging way. The Armenia Genocide took place between 1914 and 1923. This ethnic cleansing was perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, a country many Armenians were citizens of. It can be challenging for authors to portray such an event in an appropriate way, something Ippen accomplished easily.
Both 1940s New York City and the Ottoman Empire are brought to life by the author’s colorful prose. Readers feels as if they are hiking through the mountains alongside Weldon and navigating the gritty streets with Safir. Ippen’s portrayal of historical locations is one of the highlights of this novel.
“Saint Illuminator’s Daughter” also places an emphasis on family. The readers sympathize with Safir as her notion of it is turned inside out. It is rewarding to watch her discover a culture that was lost to her through no fault of her own, and to discover her place in the world.
Ippen has clearly done his research. He details these historical events with a confidence that suggests great care has been taken in every aspect of bringing Safir’s and Weldon’s stories to life. It encourages the reader to do some of their own research on this dark time in history.
Overall, “Saint Illuminator’s Daughter” is an excellent addition to the historical fiction world. It covers a time period not frequently explored in this genre and does so in an artful and interesting way. Michael Ippen uses every tool at his disposal to invite his audience into Safir’s and Weldon’s worlds. The final product is definitely a story you should add to your shelf!