Safir Turan thought she knew who she was: a Turkish immigrant, recent orphan and anonymous museum employee. But a single letter from a senator in Washington, DC throws her life and her identity into chaos. The man, Scott Weldon, claims to be her father and challenges everything she ever knew about her birth, her parents, even her nationality. Weldon tells her that her mother was an Armenian refugee fleeing the persecution of the barbaric Turks and that they fell in love during the long journey to safety. But when Safir begins to conduct her own investigation into the past, she finds things were far more complicated. Her search for the truth exposes dark secrets and brings new friendships and even love, but the emotional fallout of her discoveries may be more than Safir can handle.
Author Michael Ippen is a skilled writer. His descriptions of people and places are beautiful and evocative and he has a way with words and phrasing. Unfortunately the characterization isn’t as well done. The interactions between the main characters sometimes feel a little forced and not quite natural. The characters themselves are rather flat, except for Safir. Much of the dialogue has the same problem. It comes across as a bit stilted and doesn’t capture realistic speaking patterns. Also, in some of the more mundane scenes, like Safir’s everyday activities, there is too much detail. So much of this book–especially the parts dealing with letters and memories–is telling rather than showing, that it’s a little hard to stay focused when reading it. The storyline itself is interesting, but the plot drags because half the book consists of letters and memories. Ippen’s fantastic descriptions can’t compensate for the lack of anything to drive the story forward. The book could also use a good proofreading. There are minor errors throughout, such as missing words and odd line breaks. Overall though, SAINT ILLUMINATOR’S DAUGHTER is a touching story that shines a light on the genocide of the Armenians, an atrocity often overshadowed by the rest of World War I.
SAINT ILLUMINATOR’S DAUGHTER by Michael Ippen is a beautifully written historical fiction novel that is held back in places by uneven storytelling and characterization.
~Heather Stockard for IndieReader