A Novel


From the award-winning author of Sinners and the Sea comes a breathtaking new look into the timeless tale of Queen Esther.

A glittering Persian king has a vast empire that reaches farther than where the sun meets the horizon. He is bathed in riches and commands a frightening military force. He possesses power beyond any other mortal man and rules his kingdom as a god. Anything he desires, he has. Any woman he wants, he possesses. Thousands of them. Young virgins from all across his many lands.

A Jewish girl is ripped from her hut by the king’s brutish warriors and forced to march across blistering, scorched earth to the capitol city. Trapped for months in the splendid cage of the king’s palace, she must avoid the ire of the king’s concubines and eunuchs all while preparing for her one night with the king. Soon the fated night arrives, and she does everything in her power to captivate the king and become his queen.

But wearing the crown brings with it a new set of dangers. When a ruthless man plies the king’s ear with whispers of genocide, it is up to the young queen to prevent the extermination of the Jews. She must find the strength within to violate the king’s law, risk her life, and save her people.

This is a story of finding hidden depths of courage within one’s self. Of risking it all to stand up for what is right.

This is the story of Queen Esther.
  • Howard Books | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501108662 | 
  • November 2015
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide, for Esther, includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Rebecca Kanner. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Renowned author Rebecca Kanner transports readers to the glittering and treacherous Persian Empire in this retelling of the story of Queen Esther.

Before becoming a legend, Esther was a poor peasant girl, kidnapped in the darkness and forced to walk across the desert to join the harem of King Xerxes, the most powerful man in the world.

Blessed with incomparable beauty and an unbreakable spirit, Esther rises from hundreds of other women to entrance the king and become his queen. But once crowned, her troubles are far from over. For a grave threat is growing inside the palace walls, one that could lead to the destruction of the Jewish people as well as Esther herself.

Will she stand up and save her people, or be crushed by the weight of the crown she bears?

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Esther’s given name is Hadassah, which means, “‘myrtle,’ a plant that only gave off its sweet fragrance when crushed” (page 9). In order to conceal her Jewish identity, she c see more

More Books from this Author

Sinners and the Sea

About the Author

Rebecca Kanner
Photograph © Steven Lang

Rebecca Kanner

Rebecca Kanner’s writing has won an Associated Writing Programs Award and a Loft Mentorship Award. Her stories have been published in numerous journals, including The Kenyon Review and The Cincinnati Review. She is a freelance writer and teaches writing at The Loft in Minneapolis.