*screams with excitement*
I am so excited to finally introduce “For Such a Time as This,” my Esther retelling!
I started brainstorming for this novel back in May of 2018, so I’ve already been working on it for over a year. I wanted to be 100% sure this was a project worth pursuing before I talked about it, and now I can proudly say that I am super duper happy with what I have so far!
“For Such a Time as This,” named after the Esther 4:14 verse, is a dystopian retelling of the Esther story. It is set in the futuristic United States, where the country has turned back into a monarchy after the third World War.
To introduce my new book, I’m sharing a mock cover I created (above), some character descriptions, and a snippet from my first chapter at the end! Hope you enjoy!
Esther Noel Colburn (Esther)
Esther is (obviously) the main character of my story. Esther is a determined and smart 18-year-old. She hates dresses and heels. She can be stubborn sometimes, but not always in a bad way.
Esther is known as the most beautiful girl in her city, even though she does everything she can to avoid this reputation. She is weeks away from going to the college of her dreams with a full ride. She plans to marry her boyfriend Abel when she graduates. She’s on her way towards the life she’s always dreamed of having- when the King’s search for a new queen snatches her away.
Esther lives with her cousin Myrick and her sister Eden. Esther and her family are Christians, which is illegal.
Esther’s boyfriend. He plans to marry Esther once they both graduate from college. Abel is protective and tense, yet sweet and kind to those he trusts.
King Xander (King Xerxes)
King of the United States of America. In his forties but looks younger. Can be a bit naive and gullible. Carefree, pleasure-seeker.
Queen Vera (Queen Vashti)
Previous queen of the United States before she’s sent away for disobeying the king’s orders.
One of King Xander’s personal assistants. Power-hungry, secretive, and greedy. Wants nothing more than to rise to the highest position of power possible.
Myrick Colburn (Mordecai)
Esther’s cousin. In his upper thirties. Myrick is like both a father and a brother to Esther and Eden. He hosts a secret church service at his apartment, which he shares with Esther and Eden. Quiet and thoughtful.
Esther’s younger sister. Esther would do anything to keep Eden safe.
Snippet – from Chapter 1
Abel nudged Esther with his shoulder. She looked up at him. His eyebrows were knit together with concern. “Don’t look, but I think there’s a royal officer following us,” he whispered, leaning closer so Sara could hear as well. Esther’s eyebrows shot up, but she refrained from looking behind her. Her heart started to pound. Had her family’s secret church finally been discovered, and now they were after them?
“What should we do?” Sara whispered back, eyes again wide.
Abel bit his lip. “I’ll take a different route to school but I don’t think it will help anything.” Abel turned to the left down a street they didn’t normally take, Sara and Esther following. Esther noticed that Abel’s hand now gripped hers a little tighter.
They continued down the street at a faster pace. Esther was thankful Abel seemed to know where he was going because she was getting lost.
After a few minutes, they turned and made it back to the route they normally took. The school was just down the road.
When they made it to the school, Esther let out a breath of relief but her nerves didn’t settle. Following the sidewalk around the parking lot, they made their way to the front entrance. They entered through the large double doors, then put their bags on the baggage scanner and stepped through the metal detector. When the small glass door in front of Esther slid open, confirming that the scan was complete, she grabbed her bag from the conveyor belt and entered the school’s hallway.
“Where’d they go?” Sara asked in a low voice, toying with her hair.
“I didn’t see them again after a few minutes, but they definitely were looking at us,” Abel replied, also in a low voice. “There were at least two of them and a royal police android standing around a government car. They pointed at us and were talking on the phone.” Esther bit her lip. Royal soldiers and their androids didn’t typically just hang out in the alleys for no reason. If you saw them, it meant something was going on.
“Hopefully it was nothing,” Esther said. “I think we should just go about our day normally. What if it was a mistake?” Esther said it mostly to convince herself.
Abel’s eyes met Esther’s. “I’m walking you to your class,” he said firmly. Esther complied, even though she knew Abel couldn’t do anything against royal officers should the need arise.
Esther and Abel headed off down the hallway to the right. “Text me later,” Esther said to Sara as she headed in the other direction. Sara nodded.
Esther could feel Abel’s tenseness beside her as they walked. Esther wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans. She knew they could be in serious danger. Her cousin Myrick had been hosting a secret church service in their apartment every other Friday morning for years, and it was only a matter of time before they were found out. Maybe today was the day. Her heart jumped in her chest. Were Myrick and Eden okay? Oh gosh, if anything happens to them…
Abel grabbed Esther’s hand again so suddenly that Esther jumped. She looked up, and her heart stopped. The officers, three of them clothed in gray with the American flag on the upper arms of their thick jackets, talked with a student at the end of the hallway. The student pointed in their direction, and the soldiers started heading straight towards Esther and Abel.
“Esther Colburn, halt in the name of King Xander of the United States of America,” one commanded. Not knowing what else to do, Esther stopped walking, still desperately gripping Abel’s hand. She turned to look at Abel. His face was stern, looking straight ahead.
The soldiers approached them, the human-sized android rolling close behind. Esther instinctively stepped back. “You are Esther Noel Colburn?” a tall African-American man asked.
“Yes, sir,” Esther replied, trying not to let her voice squeak.
Another soldier grabbed her wrists, yanking her away from Abel, and clamped a white band around her right wrist.
“You are required by order of His Majesty to come with us and obey what we say,” the first soldier said. He held up a hand, showing a band on his wrist that looked like Esther’s, but black. “If you get over three meters away from this band, the white band on your wrist will administer an electric shock that will worsen the farther away you get. The police android is equipped with a microphone and camera and is recording. If you refuse to cooperate there will be consequences.” The second officer handcuffed her hands together. The first officer grabbed Esther’s upper arm, and they began to lead her back towards the entrance. Esther looked back at Abel with panic in her eyes.
“Sir?” Abel said, worry evident in his voice as he followed. “May I ask why you are taking her?”
The African-American officer responded. “The King has ordered that all the most beautiful girls in America be brought to the palace to compete for Vera’s crown.” Esther’s eyes widened.
“Wait, what?” Abel said. The stern look was gone, replaced with raised eyebrows and a gaping mouth. He kept pace with them, trying to get closer to Esther. “You’re taking her to the palace? To compete to be queen?”
“That’s what I said.” They went back through the exit and into the parking lot, still pulling Esther along by her upper arm. The students they passed eyed them curiously, whispering to each other.
“Abel!” Esther cried.
“No, no, no, anyone but her!” Abel said, running in front of the officers. The second officer backhanded Abel across the face and shoved him to the side. Esther cried out.
“Mind your own business,” the officer said. Abel regained his balance. They continued down the hallway, and Abel didn’t go after them. There was nothing he could do.