“Darkheart: A Novel of Judas Iscariot” by Jeanne Blanchet

Darkheart: A Novel of Judas Iscariot

Jeanne Blanchet
Outskirts Press (2022)
ISBN: 978-1977250544
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (01/2023)

“Darkheart: A Novel of Judas Iscariot” by Jeanne Blanchet reimagines the life of Judas, disciple and betrayer of Jesus Christ.

As a young boy, Judas Iscariot was known as a troublemaker who often embarrassed his father. After meeting an enigmatic young boy about his own age, Yeshua, Judas becomes passionate about being a religious father, and convinces his father to help him begin formal studies. While these dreams were ultimately waylaid by tragedy and hardship, Judas once again encounters the young Yeshua while he is living with his aunt and uncle. Over the following years, the blood brothers grow from boys to young men, and venture out into the world on their own paths. Once again, however, Judas would be brought back into the circle of his boyhood best friend, becoming a disciple of a man who was becoming known throughout the land as the foretold Messiah come to Earth. Temptation and psychological distress remain dangerous forces for a humble, meager man like Judas, however, and soon he will discover that sometimes the ones we love the most are also the ones we hurt the most. 

“Darkheart” was a fantastic fictional imagining of Judas. Raised Catholic myself, of course I know the story as told by Scripture well. Blanchet’s book, however, humanizes Judas. There are a lot of names people use when referring to Judas and his betrayal of Christ. Most meant to link him as a prime example of betrayal and treason. Still, there are theological ideas which suggest his “betrayal” was the result of instructions given to him by Jesus Himself. Regardless of one’s particular opinion, the book emphasizes the fact that Judas is more than just a one-dimensional character, or belongs to a single category of people or even evil. 

I have always been drawn to fictional retellings of Biblical stories or figures. For me, being able to see through scenes of literature the daily lives and idiosyncrasies of Jesus, Mary, the Disciples, John the Baptist and even Judas, helps make their stories and teachings feel more tangible and accessible to me. Literature has a unique power of essentially allowing readers to imagine many different characters and worlds and plotlines on an equal level. The pictures painted by books, such as “Darkheart,” therefore can make historical figures and events more identifiable to readers, and therefore seem relevant to their lives. 

I have read several of Blanchet’s books by now, and I’m always captivated at how she is able to bring to life some of history’s more controversial or ambiguous figures in ways that not only make for captivating fiction, but also reminds readers that these figures were human just like the rest of us.  “Darkheart” is yet another fantastic read from this author and is to be enjoyed by many fans of Christian fiction and historical fiction. 

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