• Booktastically Amazing

Rebel Daughter

by Lori Banov Kaufmann

Spoiler-Free Review:

A young woman survives the Jewish revolt against Rome in this stunning and emotionally satisfying tale of family and forbidden love in 1st-century Jerusalem.

Esther dreams of so much more than the marriage her parents have arranged to a prosperous silversmith. Always curious and eager to explore, she must accept the burden of being the dutiful daughter. Yet she is torn between her family responsibilities and her own desires.

Meanwhile, the growing turmoil threatens to tear apart not only her beloved city, Jerusalem, but also her own family. As the streets turn into a bloody battleground between rebels and Romans, Esther's journey becomes one of survival. She remains fiercely devoted to her family, and braves famine, siege, and slavery to protect those she loves.

This thrilling and impassioned saga, based on real characters and meticulous research, seamlessly blends the fascinating story of the Jewish people with a timeless protagonist determined to take charge of her own life against all odds.

*sees 4.4 average rating. Oh, crap-*

This could've been 300 pages less, and I would've enjoyed it at least a bit more.

And wasted less of my time.

Alas, it was 400 pages of asking myself, 'where's the plot?'. 'What is the point of this?' 'Where are the characters?' And then I realized, oh, there were actual characters in this book, I just didn't see any of them because the majority blended into an unsatisfactory glob of uselessness. Of course, adding to the fact that all of them were really mediocre and the ones that had a sliver (however minimal) of personality, got killed within the first 100 pages (which should've been the duration of the book itself, teehee), leaving me unable to rate the story something higher than 3.7 stars.

Now, I want to say that I have always loved some historical drama/action/thriller/ bloody masterpiece but man, this just made me question my future reading preferences. I adore the tension and the intrigue involved in 'historical' figures, and more often than not, I don't even look for accuracy. You could write about flying dolphins in a 13th-century setting and if there's even a small chance of war involved, you bet I'm going to jump towards that book.

But this just wasn't it.

Starting with one of the things that I found extremely lacking in some ways, the plot. Let me see if I can explain it in such a way where I don't end up confusing myself...


Okay, in the shortest sentence possible for me describing it: The whole storyline felt fast-paced but also, slow-paced, however, things moved quickly.

Um... Yeah.

See, the mushed up themes of survival, romance (*chokes on donut* just no), a slightly less than acceptable level of deaths (which I obviously condone at times, because come on, people have to die. I just didn't feel any emotions towards the people that actually perished in this novel), and complete notion of everything happening in a short amount of time, well, it didn't sit well with me.

The first a hundred pages were pure bliss, one of the characters had said a swoony line (one of the two that saved this from the DNF pile which is about 1 book in its entirety) which left my heart pounding and the MC was passable in the annoyance scale, good so far, right? Ha! As if I could have an easy thing in my life. Pfft. After that period of time, things started to get... murkier. In the sense that I could hardly keep myself locked into the story with lots of 'betrayal' (*snort), lots of 'revolutions* and minimal quantities of any tension between the 'love interests' whatsoever. But the thing is, after 200 pages where I suffered a tad, then came the final stage. Oh dear lord, what a blessing that one was.

I started to actually pay attention rather than doze through and supremely enjoyed all the bloody tidbits that were prominent in the last chapters.

And then it ended.

El Fin.

I actually believe it had a sort of constructed timeline, however, my analyzing abilities have taken a turn to the worst, so I'm probably ranting against a good aspect.

Though seriously,

I wanted to scream.

I did indeed scream a little when the writing came into consideration. It was very good, guys (woah...). I loved the imagery involved with the storytelling which I adored. And for sure, this author has extreme potential. Until they used the word 'whoa' and 'period'.

Let me get this straight, picture yourself in 1st century Jerusalem. Tending to donkeys (human and animal variety), acquiring spells from innkeepers and smelling the beautiful scent of horse dung. Can you imagine that? AND THEN SOME BUTTCRACKING MORON USES THE WORD WHOA MORE THAN ONE TIME. Oh dear goodness, I get peeved by the littlest things, holy crap. The thing is, I would normally overlook it (because I really don't mind) but it just... it didn't match? Ugh, I don't know if it's just me overthinking stuff. Overall, though? The writing is one of the few things that kept me interested throughout the whole story. (thank goodness)

The aforementioned run-of-the-mill characters, seriously... didn't get on my nerves because I didn't even see them as people. I just saw them as words on a page. Giving me copious volumes of 'how are they even alive-' and of course, fictionally breaking my brain into tiny pieces so as to make it easier for me to shove it into their empty heads.

The MC was... good? Like, she didn't kill me with obvious stupidity, but she literally did nothing in the story. Sure she suffered, got sold, 'betrayed' and heart was broken into tiny pieces. Apart from that though? Let's see what I can remember her doing. Well, firstly, she hid SOME VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM HER FAMILY, because of course, that is super healthy. Secondly, she fell in love with a guy with whom she had one conversation (basically three lines, but he was swoony, so I forgive) and basically proclaimed it. Over. And over. Again. As if I could forget about that fact when she was literally drowning me in it. Like, sweetie, drown your sorrows, not my mental capacity to tolerate you.

The background characters were there. They were a nice refreshment from being so parched with the MC. They lived and loved and fought and bled, all for the notion of freedom. Which I absolutely respect. I just never connected with any of them. They were, in short, asphalt (what even-). But I liked most of them so... yaassss

Following the background characters, I want to rant a little about the love interest. The guy was very confusing because I liked him as a person. But when joining him with the MC, eh, no clicking sound to be heard. And that is very sad. I suspect it's because they had about 5 interactions in which the MC thought he was extremely vile (a moment of silence to when I actually thought this was going to be hate to romance) and then wham, bam, shabam ma'am. She was in LUUUUURRRVVVEVEEEE. You know what rhymes with that word? Larvae. Which I believe both of them were cultivating inside that little part of their brains, also known as... chemistry.

Speaking of chemistry, we can't talk about one without the other so bear with me, please.

The um... THE... the romance.

I- I give up. Nope, yeet to nope. Nope to the heck nope. I despised it with every fiber of my being. What even was that??? And to add to the matter of my supreme dislike, this sentence was uttered:

"I can't live without you"

*suffocates in 'trope'*

How many times shall I explain this? *cracks knuckles* Y'all lived many MANY years without each other. MANY YEARS. The fact that if one of y'all might perish will definitely hurt like a truck to the loins, but you'll survive. I repeat you don't have a terminal disease. Meaning that if that person you loved for two chapters, were to die a death caused by some unprecedented force (Moi), you would FIND A WAY TO MOVE ON. I need to rest a little, my irritated self is showing.

In summary, the romance was unnecessary, some lines exchanged made me squeal, and really, was not useful to the story because it lasted the final 10 pages or so. I almost cried.

On a closing note, this book was not the best (it wasn't the worst). Nor would I re-read it, just because of my personal enjoyment factor. If you were to read it, please let me know in which part did I go wrong by thinking that this story was going to actually make me crave something other than destruction. Because I need to know, please.

The writing was interesting, some parts of the book kept me hooked, and frankly, it wasn't all rants and utter hatred. The fights were amazing, and the described action left me sighing and fanning myself. There were moments in which I actually had hope.

Basically the end-

Disclaimer: Any and all opinions said up there are my own, and please feel free to call me out for any errors or any offensive comments, so I can get right on it and get it fixed!


  • The ending statements after the finishing of the story. The background information about the war made the effort to read this, so much better.

  • Dear Author, I absolutely have the utmost respect for all the research that was used because seriously? The history ingrained into it was amazing.

  • How many characters died.

  • Why did the MC not die?

  • Oh wait *rereads the author notes* maybe she did-

  • The fact that she was maybe fourteen years old and fell in love with a 27-year-old in the beginning. Ayyyyy, no.

It actually wasn't that bad. Gosh darn it, I hate not loving books I would normally adore.