Title: Third Night
Author: Neil Plakcy
Cover Artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Buy link: Amazon.com
Length: 7,000 Words
Rating: 1.75 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Stuart
Review Summary: The great Orthodox Hanukkah story remains to be written.
Will Joe’s Hanukkah wish come true—a way to reconcile his belief in the tenets of Orthodox Judaism with his attraction to his friend Yehuda?
Can Joe reconcile his belief in the tenets of Orthodox Judaism with the religion’s disapproval of his sexual orientation? Or will his crush on his friend Yehuda ruin their friendship and leave him ostracized by his community? What will happen on the third night of Hanukkah?
I approached Third Night with such anticipation, excited to read a Hanukkah story where Orthodox Judaism would play a central role. Understandably, most authors set their Hanukkah stories among less observant Jews, finding it sufficient to create atmosphere by decorating the narrative with brisket, dreidels, latkes, and menorahs. The demands on an author when setting a story in the world of Orthodox Judaism are great for what is potentially a very small audience. I was amazed and pleased that Neil Plakcy wanted to make the effort and completely dismayed when I read the results.
His story is thoroughly riddled with errors about Orthodox Jewish history and practices. Most of these mistakes were fixable by simple Google searches. I know because I Googled them to see how easily he might have obtained accurate information.
For those who care not about Judaic accuracy, the story itself contains zero narrative tension. The object of Joe’s affection is absent for 2/3 of the book, while Joe ponders and wanders. Yehuda appears, they have sex, some dubious theology makes it OK, HEA. The story fails in its unfolding, its resolution and its world building. The great Orthodox Hanukkah story remains to be written.