Book Review - The Believer

The Believer
By Ann H. Gabhart

As a young boy, Ethan escaped from what promised to be a life of violence and dishonesty when he was rescued by a kind man who took him to live in a Shaker community. Ethan embraced the Shaker life, grateful for the peace and plenty his Shaker brothers and sisters provided. But fifteen years later, another orphan arrives and sends his well-ordered life into a tailspin.

The death of Elizabeth’s father has left her at the mercy of a man who terrifies her. In order to provide for her younger brother and sister, Elizabeth has no choice but to marry him. Until she remembers her father mentioning the Shaker community, a kind and peaceful people who turn no one away. Elizabeth leads her young siblings to Harmony Hill, where they try to conform to the strict and sometimes harsh rules of the Shaker life. But the Lord she loves is vastly different from the deity the Shakers worship. Still, she could probably conform to their odd beliefs as her little brother has done, except for two loves that the Shakers tell her are both sinful: her young sister, whose wild spirit will have to break before she becomes a Shaker; and the handsome young man she can’t seem to stop thinking about – Ethan.

Ann H. Gabhart is an amazing writer with a gift for bringing history to life. As I read The Believer, I felt as though I stepped backward in time, to the deceptively peaceful Shaker village of Harmony Hill in the 1800’s. The characters are vivid and real – from the very first pages, I shivered in fear with the young Ethan, and my heart broke for Elizabeth at the loss of her father. Ann Gabhart skillfully blends so much fact into her stories that I came away feeling like I’ve been given a glimpse inside the Shaker meeting rooms. I loved The Believer, and I recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction with a satisfying touch of romance.

If you enjoy reading about the Shakers, look for Ann’s previous novel, The Outsider. And coming in July 2010, watch for The Seeker.