The Magdalene Mystery

Christine Sunderland
OakTara (2013)
ISBN 9781602901261
Reviewed by Jennifer Hass for Reader Views (7/13)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Magdalene Mystery’ by Christine Sunderland on Blogcritics. 

“The Magdalene Mystery” by Christine Sunderland is about Kelly Roberts and her journey to find the truth -- the truth about her parent’s death -- but also to find the manuscripts of her Godfather who recently passed away. Father Keith Gilbert has sent Kelly letters over the years to keep in touch. Father Gilbert was recognized as a saint and spent his life exposing lies the media has spread and gained many that both loved and hated him along the way. Kelly gets one last letter from Father Gilbert and he insists that she head to Rome and find the truth. Since the letter is sent after his death, she is unsure of what she wants to do.

Being a single mother, she is responsible for her son Matt and getting the rent paid. This is her primary focus. The letter suggests that she contact Daniel Weaver, a professor and former student of Father Gilbert, to assist her with the next steps. Together they must solve the mystery surrounding Mary Magdalene so she will be able to claim her legacy, of which Kelly is unsure exactly what that includes. Kelly has to step out of her comfort zone and figure out if she is able to handle the task at hand.

I never really got into “The Da Vinci Code” type movies or books. I honestly didn’t even relate the “Mary Magdalene” name with the title of this book. If I had, I personally would have slipped over this book based on me not having much interest in Catholicism or historical fiction. I accepted this book for review because it was a mystery. Then come to find out that “The Magdalene Mystery” was full of the topics I typically avoid. To my pleasant surprise, I was not only immersed in the pages but I was consumed with the story.

From the first chapter I had already decided that it was going to be an excellent read. Christine Sunderland’s writing style is unique and precise. The history in this book is both fiction and non-fiction. Based on real churches, real historical findings and traditions, it was hard for me to tell the difference between what was real and what was the work of fiction. With that being said, I could tell the contents of this mystery were well researched. There are chapter notes in the back of the book that helped me to see what certain parts were taken from the real world. This was the educational part of the book that was so well written, I didn’t even have to think about whether I knew what was going on.

I learned with Kelly as she learned. As I turned the pages, I found insight into Catholicism and the stories that most of us know. Some believe these stories are real and some think they are just fairytales. I did not feel like the story was trying to “convert” me or anything of that nature. It was pure and I followed along easily.

The elements of this story really tell the reader all they need to know. As the focus is not to make you head to the church to confess but to take you on a journey of Kelly finding her way through her pain. It made me think of all the media hype around the movie “The Da Vinci Code” and how so many people were fuming about how anyone would say these things and attempt to change their faith. I always thought that was silly. Fiction should be fun and tantalizing and I found that in “The Magdalene Mystery” by Christine Sunderland.

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