“The Garden” by Elsie V. Aidinoff

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God, Adam, The Serpent, and Eve; the four key players in the creation story of our world.

This novel had an interesting concept: take the creation story and tell it with a broader sense of the arch, and tell it from Eve’s point of view. The novel wakes up with Eve. Everything is new, every sense is igniting and alive, and Eve must learn everything; words, emotions, thoughts. The Serpent, entrusted by God with her education, teaches her all that it is to being human and what life in the Garden will be. But Eve’s natural curiosity has her wondering what is outside the Garden; is anything out there? Following her growth through the Garden and beyond Aidinoff’s novel certainly puts an interesting spin on a story nearly everyone knows.

I think the novel was, overall, fairly decent. I enjoy most mythologies and how they can be played with through different forms of fiction (“Percy Jackson and The Olympians” being another one of my favourites). I liked the concept of watching Eve grow, having her learn from The Serpent – rather than painting him as the immediate ne’er do well that was Lucifer this novel gave more, I guess you could say, heart to the character. It added a great spark to an otherwise static character. Most people know my affinity for Lucifer and the entire biblical canon, but the basic Genesis story does tend to wield the Serpent as a very flat character; actually, the entire creation myth kind of tends to make all of the characters flat characters. However, Aidinoff gave new life to the characters of Eve, Adam, The Serpent, and God Himself.

My only real constructive criticism on this piece was that I felt like there could have been more. More interactions, more emotions, more depth. Without going into too many spoilers (aside from the obvious) something happens in the novel that was never mentioned in The Bible and I felt like this was a key turning point for the characters. While this event was definitely a catalyst for the subsequent plot line I’m not sure the event was resolved in a way that was logical, or even accurate in any way. It’s hard to say without becoming specific, but I just felt that there was something missing from the overall development of the story. I’m not sure if it was because Eve and Adam were still so new to being human that they don’t know how to react to things, or how to express things, but there was definitely something missing from key interactions. On the other hand Aidinoff did a wonderful job of giving them small little quirks that I thought were very human, and very natural to have. It was enjoyable to read about the first humans: how would they act without any societal influence, with only God and the Serpent to guide them. It was interesting for sure.

The Character of God must have ticked off a lot of people though. I personally feel he was written fairly accurately, but I can see some people being really upset with the whole book in general. Although one scene has an absolutely fantastic metaphor in it for the entire temptation plot and it was so splendidly canonical that I found myself wanting to reread The Bible just to make more connections. (Which actually only resulted in me watching more “Supernatural” and sobbing over Lucifer’s story line, but I digress).

Overall I did enjoy the novel and I think it may be worth a read if you’re a bit of a dabbling Theologian like myself.

Happy reading!

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