Raphael: Power of the Amulet

Gabi Tamman

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 382 Price: (paperback) $20.17 ISBN: 9781543491142 Reviewed: July, 2019 Author Website: Visit »

Three present-day siblings gather to reminisce about stories their enigmatic grandfather Raphael has shared about his life, but one brother drops a bombshell: Grandad led a far more electrifying and salacious early life than he has let on. Thus begins Gabi Tamman’s historical novel Raphael: Power of the Amulet.

The story starts in 1931 in Cairo. There, pregnant with Raphael, his mother hopes to find guidance by sleeping in the cave once occupied by a 12th century holy man. She awakes with an amulet in her hand and divines that its power will protect her baby and give him extraordinary clout. Growing up, Raphael indeed matures in body and mind faster than his peers.

His Jewish family fears continuing repression in Cairo, moving to the Sudan when Raphael is 14. At his insistence, Raphael remains to manage the family leather-making venture, increasing business while also refining his sexual prowess. He eventually joins the resistance movement instrumental in the growth of the state of Israel.

Still a teen, he moves to Nigeria, where he begins a thriving crocodile hunting and leather-making business. As the story unfolds, he intensifies his reputation as a ladies’ man and is embroiled in a series of life-threatening events, crediting the amulet for his safety and expanding triumphs, both business and romantic.

Tamman’s story switches between the modern-day siblings marveling at the recounting of Granddad’s dramatic exploits to the narrative of Raphael’s history. Unfortunately, the transitions are sometimes awkward and forced. Also, rather than a seamlessly interwoven narrative, Raphael’s flashbacks sometimes seem like a history lesson of the years 1940 through 1956, regardless of the dash of sexual intrigue. The siblings’ dialogue can also sound artificial.

Such drawbacks may deter those seeking a less contrived read. Still, the author’s background in leather-making and crocodile hunting enhances his descriptions of the settings and Raphael’s craft, and the history may intrigue devotees of stories set in this period.

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