by D.J. Niko
The arid, unforgiving desert of Ethiopia plays host to the majority of D.J Niko’s thrilling novel. The Tenth Saint follows the work of Sarah Weston, an Oxford trained archeologist too independent for her own good. While on a dig, Sarah uncovers a tomb filled with perplexing finds. A tall, white man with good and advanced dentistry dating to the 4th century? An obscure dialect carved into the walls? Sarah, driven by a wish to learn and share the past, dives into an archeological mystery that will threaten her life, her career, and question the impossible.
D.J Niko’s first book in the Sarah Weston series narrates a fascinating tale that had me guessing at numerous answers to the question – who is Gabriel? Niko’s narrative style of alternating story lines allows the reader to slowly piece together the truth along with Sarah. While Niko had me questioning what morsel of evidence about the tomb would show itself next, there was the predictable love story. Every adventure needs some romance, I guess.
At the beginning of the book, I considered The Tenth Saint a story of a female Indiana Jones. My thoughts were confirmed and chastised, on page 294, when Sarah reads an article about her discoveries with a tinge of disgust. “The article described Sarah…and Daniel…less like scientists and more like Indiana Jones types willing to risk life and limb to uncover hidden treasure.” I read this as Niko’s method of reminding the reader that her characters are more than adventurous figures; they are archeologists striving to reveal the truth of the tenth saint.
Besides Niko’s skill at character development and intriguing narrative style, she illustrates history and ancient places beautifully. For instance, the description of a stone church in Aksum reveals Niko’s intimate knowledge of the time and places about which she writes. “The structure was almost Byzantine with its clay-tiled dome roof crowned by a simple wooden cross…The church interior was divided into small chambers, each decorated with murals of saints and the Christ, their eyes gleaming in the soft yellow light of the candelabra.” Her experience traveling the world and time with tribes of Africa and Asia comes through as she writes with authority about places most of us only dream of visiting.
The Tenth Saint is a thrilling story about the past, present, and future and the lengths people will go to to ensure the outcome they desire. I remained captured by the story of The Tenth Saint from the first to last page. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history and religion, yearning for a pick-me-up adventure. The Tenth Saint is particularly good for students needing a rest after midterms or finals. Also, stay tuned. The next installment of the Sarah Weston series, The Riddle of Solomon, is supposed to come out this year.