You know what Connilyn Cossette should have been? A poet. Every line of her stories are so beautiful, you forget you’re reading fiction. That’s how I felt when I read my very first Cossette novel, “Counted With The Stars” and that’s how I felt when I closed the final page of “To Dwell Among Cedars.” Cossette’s ability to make an ancient, Old Testament world come to life so vividly is a gift, and now, I’ll never read the story of the Ark of the Covenant among the Philistines in 1 Samuel the same way ever again.
“To Dwell Among Cedars” is a beautiful story of two Philistine siblings, Eliora and Natan, and how they left Ashdod to follow the Ark of the Covenant to the land of Israel, where they were adopted into the family of Elazar. The novel starts off with these two being children in Part 1 and jumps to adulthood in Part 2, so you get a glimpse of the backstory as well as why certain things are so important to Eliora and Natan. Throw in a plot to kidnap the Ark of the Covenant, romance and a strong theme of acceptance, and you have a great story. I wish I could give “To Dwell Among Cedars” ten stars! Unless you’ve read Cossette’s other books, you’ve never read Old Testament fiction like this!
So what makes the author’s stories so unique? Let me take a moment and share a few things that made this book extraordinary to me. The first thing was the theme. Adoption was a major player in “To Dwell Among Cedars.” What caught my attention, was the fact that one sibling embraced their new family with open arms and the other ended up being quite difficult and rebellious. To me, that seemed so realistic and I think that both viewpoints can be gleaned from. Plus, the rebellious sibling was JUST as likable as the other. (That impressed me!) So, if you’re interested in a story about adoption with an ancient twist, then this story is for you!
The second thing was the time period and setting. Most of the time, Old Testament Biblical Fiction focuses on well known characters in Israel. While I love that, Cossette’s writing stands out because her characters are completely fictional and sometimes set during time periods that are not always written about. For example, you turn to Chapter 1, and you’re in Ashdod, Philistia. And without giving too much away, you stay in Ashdod for a while before heading to the Holy Land. I feel like I understand so much more about the Philistines now that I’ve read this book.
Also, if you’ve read Connilyn’s “Out Of Egypt” series, there’s a certain “gift” from that series that makes a reappearance. When I first discovered it, I was so pleased. I love it when author’s can connect their series even if there are years between the settings. (Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that means the “Out Of Egypt” series, the “Cities Of Refuge” series AND the “Covenant House Series” are all connected in some way! *Swoon*)
Conclusion: I’ve always been drawn to Cossette’s stories because her characters were different. In her “Out Of Egypt” series, we saw the events of the Exodus from an Egyptians point of view; in the “Cities Of Refuge” series, we saw life during a time when Israel’s laws were kinda of strange and now; we’re exploring Samuel’s time period through the eyes of a Philistine. No matter how much Biblical Fiction you’ve read, Connilyn Cossette will have you experiencing thoughts and feelings about the Old Testament you’ve never considered before. Get a cozy spot and settle in, because once you start reading “To Dwell Among Cedars,” (the first book in the Covenant House series) you won’t want to put it down!
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