Review: “Damascena” by Holly Lynn Payne

“Damascena” by Holly Lynn Payne

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 9 September 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Holly Lynn Payne’s spellbinding tale brings the unparalleled poet, Mevlana Rumi, to life, and transports readers to the enchanting world of 13th century Persia. Simply but elegantly told, the story unravels the mystery surrounding a legendary orphaned girl, who discovers her gift of turning roses into oil. Named after the flowering rosa damascena, the girl reluctantly assumes the role of a living saint for the miracles she performs-longing for the only one that matters: finding her mother. Deeply wounded by the separation since birth, Damascena undergoes a riveting transformation when she meets Rumi and finally discovers the secret of the rose. Imbued with rich historical research and inspired by the devastating disappearance of Rumi’s most lauded spiritual companion, Shams of Tabriz, Holly Payne has courageously opened herself to receive Rumi’s teachings and offer a timeless love story.

Review: I found this book so beautifully written, and hitting so many powerful notes in me, that I don’t know I even feel qualified to write a review of it.

For almost the entirety of Damascena, I found a magical, lyrical quality to the book both in the story being told and the prose in which it was being told. There were points in the middle that it dragged very slightly, but not so much to ever pull me from it. I read it in two nights, and only because I had need of sleep the first.

This is a story about faith, but it’s not a religious story. Even if it refers to the divine in ways familiar with religion and does speak of the Sufi way, it never has the feel of religion because it feels universal to all people who seek to understand the concept of divinity and spirituality. It is faith in more than just a “higher power,” however, but about in people too.

Damascena (as the titular character) goes into the small collection of teenage female characters I don’t want to kill. She was as beautifully written as her story, realistic yet transcending reality into spirituality. The power of her, ultimately, is what she creates in others, but cannot see for herself. And that the spiritual elements in this story–where the spirit was found–were roses and dancing really just got to the heart of me.

It was a story about roses, and love, and dancing, and faith, and beauty, and poetry, and devotion… It was not a story about the human condition, but a story about how we as humans can transcend ourselves for love: love of all that we are, good and bad; love of family; love of romantic partners; love of the spirit and divinity; love of mankind; love of our enemy.

5 Fireballs, but only because I can’t give it any more than that. I liked it so much I considered creating a sixth rating just for it. This book was nearly a pyroblast.

5 Fireballs

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