Much-Afraid, who lived in the village of Much-Trembling, desired to serve the Chief Shepherd with her whole heart, but she feared that she fell short of ever pleasing Him. Her feet were deformed which made walking difficult, and her face was disfigured, and more than anything she wanted to be free from things that she felt were holding her back.
But those are not the only things holding her back. Her relatives, the Family of Fearings, were always lurking in the Valley…
Mrs. Dismal Forebodings, her aunt, raised her along with her two cousins Gloomy and Spiteful and their brother Craven Fear, of who mistreated her horribly on a regular basis.
When Craven Fear and his family try to force her to marry him, she flees to the pool where the Chief Shepherd is waiting, and she explains all to Him. He tells her that she can come to the Kingdom of Love if she allows Him to make her feet into hinds’ feet – and He would have to change her name because a Much-Afraid cannot enter the Kingdom. And in addition to that, she would have to allow Him to plant the seed of Love into her heart…
He chose two guides to help her on her journey: Sorrow and Suffering, and she is as scared as her name suggests. Will she allow Him to work in her life so she can enter the Kingdom of Love, or will Old Lord Fearing have his way?
This story was so gripping. A friend gave this to me in August 2016, and it sure didn’t disappoint!
Hannah Hurnard’s writing style pulled me right in. The names of everyone and everything was so cute. (In addition to the ones I mentioned above, there was Pride, Bitterness, Self-Pity, and a little flower named Acceptance-with-Joy.) The symbolism and allegories were fantastic. Also, this book managed to expand my vocabulary with words such as estuary and hoary; I always appreciate when a book makes me use my dictionary.
The poems make me so happy and are based on Scripture. Here is one of my favorite ones from the book:
“I am the Rose of Sharon, a wild anemone.
As lily ‘mong the thorn trees, so is my love to me.
An apple tree ‘mong wild trees, my Love is in my sight,
I sit down in his shadow, his fruit is my delight.
He brought me to his palace, and to the banquet hall,
To share with me his greatness, I, who am least of all.
Oh, give me help and comfort, for I am sick with shame,
Unfit, to be his consort, unfit to bear his Name.
I charge you, o ye daughters, ye roses among the trees,
Stir not my sleeping loved one, to love me e’er he please.”
I believe this is based on Song of Solomon, chapter two.
I did find one error: “You will give me a new name when I get to the top?” quavered Much-Afraid, who all of a sudden seemed to have become deaf to the music who all of a sudden seemed deaf to the music around her and to be full of fears and forebodings again.
I reread that sentence so many times. But in hind-sight (oh, bad pun!), it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Spoiler-y stuff (in white text – highlight to read):
I loved how when Much-Afraid reached a milestone, she took a literal stone as a reminder – this reminded me of the rocks in Joshua 4 where the Lord ordered 12 large stones be taken out of the Jordan in remembrance of what the Lord had done for them, so that their children would see and ask about them and they could be told the stories of how God parted the river for them. Anyway. At the end of this book, the rocks Much-Afraid picked up were turned to jewels!
And her new name. LOVE.
And when she reflects upon her journey, it was so touching.
The end of Act One left me almost speechless. So emotional. So wonderful. And heart-wrenching.