Sunday, December 27, 2020

To Dwell Among Cedars By Connilyn Cossette

To Dwell Among Cedars
by Connilyn Cossette
Publisher: Bethany House
Series: The Covenant House
ISBN: 9780764234347

Connilyn Cossette easily became one of my favorite overall authors and probably my favorite Biblical fiction author the past couple of years. To be on her launch team for book 1 of The Covenant House series was simply an honor. I received the book for being part of her team.

Summary:

As they fight for the soul of Israel, will they find healing for their own?

Eight years ago, after the Philistines surrendered the stolen Ark of the Covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora and her brother left their Philistine homeland to follow it to the community of Kiryat-Yearim. Though they both were lovingly enfolded into a Levite family that guards the Ark, Eliora can't stop feeling like she doesn't belong. 

Meanwhile, a faction of discontent Hebrews finds Kiryat-Yearim to be an unfit resting place and believes that the sacred vessel should be in the hands of the priests who mean to restore the Holy of Holies in a new location. Under the guise of gathering Hebrews to worship together for the festivals, Levite musician Ronen has been sent by his uncle to find where the Ark has been hidden and steal it back. But Ronen never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he's tasked to deceive.

Ronen's attempts to charm Eliora into revealing the location of the Ark lead them in unexpected directions, as they must battle betrayal and fear to help establish Israel's leadership for a better future.

My Review:

I started enjoying the Old Testament in a new way a couple years ago when I was in my Bible study. That was the first time I'd read any Connilyn Cossette novels. It was amazing because her fiction went along with what I'd been learning in the Bible. Once again, one of the true stories of the Bible that I read about and really fascinated me was the topic of To Dwell Among Cedars.

One of the things I love most about Connilyn's writing is that she brings us to a time in history and makes it come alive for the reader. YES, it's fictional, but the way she writes you could see something like this story happening at the same time.

I loved the main character, Arisa. We meet he as a little girl and then once again as a young woman. While she's grown up in so many ways, she's also stayed that same little girl, trying to earn her place and love. Then there's her brother, Lukio. Oh that poor, precious boy. So much going on inside of his mind and heart as he's growing up. You can see glimpses of what's to come while he's a little boy.

Azuvah, their nursemaid, is so wonderful. She's such an example of how we can pour into the life of those around us. I want to have a heart like hers, especially for children. I love how she fills Arisa and Lukio up with the history of her people and tries to instill a love for God for them in the midst of their Philistine ways.

Don't you just love a story that works up your dander?! Your ire builds for the choices the characters are making? The good characters and the not so good. You want to stop them in their tracks, scream at them, or put them over your knee? Whew, Connilyn got me with her characters in this story. Of course, on the opposite side of that coin are people like Elazar and Yoela who I just wanted to hug and spend time with.

Oh, and we can't forget about Ronen. He's a Levite musician who, well, who hasn't been following his calling. Like the other men in his family (who have survived) he wants vengeance and the ark back where it "belongs". Once again we see how what we sow into the lives of those in our care can harm or build up. Unfortunately, for him, his uncle has a bone to pick with Elazar's family. :(

You can see how God is moving throughout this story. The truths about Who we worship or what we worship will come to the forefront as you read through this story. Not only do the Levites struggle with that as well as the Israelites, but even the individual characters in this story. The story of the Ark being taken to the battle never fails to remind that the power isn't in the thing, but in the One who created it.

I think readers will be able to see themselves in one way or another through Arisa, Lukio, or Ronen. It's a powerful way to reflect on how we see ourselves in light of our Creator!

And now we wait. We wait for Lukio's story. Getting a glimpse into it at the end of this story makes me nervous for what's to come in book two. Nervous in a very good way. So much anticipation!!

About the Author:

Connilyn Cossette (www.connilyncossette.com)is a Christy Award and Carol Award winning author whose books have been found on ECPA and CBA bestseller lists. When she is not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible to discover gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in their twenty-plus years of marriage, they currently call a little town south of Dallas, Texas, their home.

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