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A Flame in the Dark: A Novel about Luther’s Reformation

by Sarah Baughman

Item #: 124546 / 2018 / Paperback / 320 Pages


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1517. Wittenberg, Germany.

Amid the cultural upheaval brought on by Dr. Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses is Heinrich Ritter, who is experiencing turmoil of his own.

A law student at the university where Luther teaches, Heinrich is on the path to a career that will provide the income necessary for the welfare of himself and his sister. However, his interest, his passion, is theology, sparked by Luther’s lectures and by the Word of God.

Heinrich’s life is further complicated by his host family’s eldest daughter, Marlein, who has caught his eye but refuses to consider his courtship. Yet his immediate concern is Brigita, his sister, who arrives unexpectedly— hungry, hunted, frightened—and puts their future in jeopardy.

Baughman’s rich, authentic novel is set against the backdrop of the Reformation, showing how the reverberations of this religious reform echoed throughout the world and in the lives of ordinary people. A Flame in the Dark brings to life characters who lived not only during one of the most tumultuous times in history but also alongside one of its greatest figures. See how God’s Word works in all of life’s messy complications, no matter our place in history, to spread the fire of His love, mercy, and salvation.


"An ingenious look at the nature of love in light of Lutheran theology. " —Kirkus Reviews 

“A warm and engaging tale.”
—Heidi Goehmann, author of Altogether Beautiful

“Reading A Flame in the Dark is like stepping back into Reformation-era Wittenberg, Germany. Sarah Baughman carefully crafts a believable tale with a fresh perspective.”
—Sue Matzke, avid reader and pastor’s wife

“Even though this story takes place during the Reformation, the message in A Flame in the Dark is nevertheless prevalent today, tomorrow, and well into the future.”
—Adriann Harris, book reviewer

“If you enjoy historical fiction, be sure to add this one to your list!”
—Jamie Lapeyrolerie, Musings of Jamie


About the Author
Sarah stays busy with her husband and their four children in Texas. They are members of Our Savior Lutheran in Houston and are blessed with a great church family. Sarah earned her BA in theology with a minor in English from Concordia University Chicago. When she isn’t writing historical fiction or reading, she is usually spending time outdoors, sewing, or crafting. She prays that her writing will touch lives with the hope that is found in Christ.

Item Number:
Young Adult - Adult
In Stock

Customer Reviews

A Flame in the Dark: A Novel about Luther’s Reformation

by Sarah Baughman

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The best kind of historical Christian fiction!

This is the best kind of historical Christian fiction! Immersive, rich historical details bring the setting and story alive. Messy, broken, realistic characters who grow and learn in a believable manner. Solid theology woven throughout the entire story, directly impacting the thoughts, words, and actions of the characters. Themes of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and vocation show up so seamlessly and provide excellent discussion material for book clubs and groups. I love that although Luther appears in the novel, he is a secondary character, because it really shows the impact of his Theses and radical theology on those living in Wittenberg at the time. Hoping for a sequel at some point, because the market and my shelves need more of this quality fiction!

Rich and Insightful

This is one of the best books I've read so far this year. Actually, it's one of the best books I've EVER read. It's filled with such rich character development and meaty discussions of how God's words apply to our lives. The characters were so real and wonderful, I actually worried about what was happening to them whenever I wasn't actively reading the book. That's some powerful writing, folks. I also loved how Martin Luther was portrayed: kind, humorous, compassionate, stubborn, hasty, and wholly dedicated to understanding the Word of God and illuminating it for others. He's shown to be an intelligent, determined, Christ-focused man, both human and humane. The main character, Heinrich Ritter, is studying law at the University of Wittenberg. When he can, he attends Dr. Luther's theology lectures. Heinrich boards with a middle-class family, the Diefenbachs, who live just outside town. He's romantically interested in their oldest daughter, Marlein, but hesitates to make his interest known to her because she spends all her time caring for her family. Her father is a busy candlemaker, kind but often distracted. Her mother suffers from crippling depression centered around mutliple miscarriages, among other things, and rarely leaves her room. That leaves Marlein to run the household and cares for the children. Into this hectic world bursts Brigita, Heinrich's younger sister who's running from her past and carrying a secret. Through caring for his sister and trying to ease Marlein's load, Heinrich comes to undersand that God's plans are not always our plans, and that sometimes the best way to help someone is just to ask, "What can I do?" instead of trying to solve their problems for them. He seeks guidance from Dr. Luther several times, trying to understand what his role is as a brother, a possible suitor, and a friend, and I think the thing I loved best about this book (aside from the characters) was how it looked at vocations and burdens from so many angles. Plus, it's beautifully written, paying wonderful attention to historical details. I don't know what Baughman intends to write next, but I do know I already want to read whatever it is.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
One of a kind

The world isn't brimming with historical fiction books that take place in Wittenberg during the time of the Reformation AND get the theology right. This book is one of a kind. Easy read. Easy to recommend.

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Great summer read, or anytime!!

Concordia Publishing House has ventured into historical fiction and I wasn’t disappointed. I truly hope there will be more from this author and possibly continuing this series. I’m not sure what I liked best about the book because it satiated my love of history, geography, and the study of God’s Word. Sarah took me back to Wittenburg at the very beginning of the Reformation. My memories from a visit to that city blended easily with her artful use of words. Without difficulty I could imagine the characters in their day to day lives. Every once in a while she’d slip in a simple German word into the text which reminded me the characters are actually in old Germany. She effortlessly added in historical markers through her character development, including information on Father Martin (Martin Luther as a monk and teacher). Sarah’s love for the Lord shows through her characters as one by one they discover truths in God’s Words. I rejoiced in the enlightenment of the characters as they learned more about God's of loving Grace. The characters shared their questions and their faith with such ease that I wondered why we are so timid these days to share God’s love and grace. When I first picked up the book I was a little skeptical that it would hold my interest. I am very happy to say that I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good summer read. Actually, anytime of the year!

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Love love this work of Historical Fiction

Sarah’s writing of this historical fiction novel is magnificent. She paid careful attention to detail and the love of Christ was woven in so gently. I loved the bond between Luther and Heinrich, and also Luther’s sense of humor throughout.

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Read this book!

In this brilliant work of historical fiction, the Sara Baughman tells a story of brokenness and pain, on the one hand, and the forgiveness and freedom, which the Lord provides for us through His holy Word, on the other. Baughman introduces the reader to the great work of the Reformer, makes the proper and comforting distinction between Law and Gospel, celebrates the power of the Word, beautifully and accurately pictures the landscapes of historical Wittenberg, lets the reader inside the hearts of her great characters, moves him or her to tears with more than one or two beautiful stories of love... This book has everything you would expect from a truly excellent work of Christian fiction. Highly recommended!

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not

Baughman's characters drew me into their lives from beginning to end and left me wanting to spend more time with them. I hope there's a sequel. Her book is entertaining, historical, and purposeful. Enjoy!

3 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Good and Satisfying!

The Flame in the Darkness Review This book is more than historical fiction: it's storytelling done right. The story certainly breathes life and fresh perspective into a period of history, but it isn't clunky. It isn't overly-academic in its details, which is sometimes my problem with historical fiction. It's just good and satisfying. Yes, Martin Luther is a character, but there is a really nice balance between a) how Luther's history-making events shape characters and scenes and b) how Luther comes across as an actual human being/character, who happens to be the excited preacher and beloved professor of the main character(s). Overall, this is a great Lutheran novel. There's realistic conversations that talk about God, vocation, theology of the cross, and clear, sweet Gospel rightly divided from Law. Woo hoo! There's romance and intrigue. There's inner tension and real struggle.  There are problems we still face and pulled heartstrings as we consider the characters in the hard times before us. But more than that there is so much hope and Gospel as God works in the lives of these individuals. Plus—and this is a very big plus—it's a story that didn't make me roll my eyes. I didn't roll my eyes at the scenarios, characters, developments, romance . . . it's a work that isn't pigeon-holed into being merely historical fiction or romance or however else you'd like to classify it. It's just good, ol' satisfying Lutheran fiction, a real Reformation novel. I am exceedingly pleased that CPH has published this! Keep writing, Sarah Baughman, and I'll keep reading!

3 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not

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