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5.0 out of 5 starsThe Ark, 2 children and feuding Levites make an intriguing story,
Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2020
Connilyn Cossette has penned another amazing Christian fiction book. She takes a unique look at the period of time the Ark of the Covenant was in Kiryat-Yearim. I love how she blends the Biblical text with fictional characters to draft an interesting look at what it might look like if 2 Philistine children follow the Ark and then live among the Jewish people. She also weaves an interesting tale of feuding Levite groups that both want possession of the precious ark. And, she manages to weave a tale of romantic love through the story. She even works in a very prominent Old Testament Prophet too. All of these add up to another intriguing and entertaining tale taken right out of scripture, with a little extra creativeness.
Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2020
The story in To Dwell Among Cedars is based off a story in the Old Testament where the Ark is taken by the Philistines and the is returned to Israel, and settles in Kiryat-Yearim. It takes place during the time period in Israel's history when judges ruled, right before they get their first king, in 1 Samuel 4-7. You can read about it here.
I was not really familiar with the Biblical account. It seems like I had heard about portions of it, but did not have knowledge of or understand it in great detail. It was good to refresh myself and go back and read the account in the Scriptures again.
At the beginning of the book, there is a map (which I love) that helps you become acquainted with locations in the story, since the setting for the book takes places in several places.
In To Dwell Among Cedars, Connilyn Cossette has built a beautiful story around the account in 1 Samuel. It tells the story of a girl who goes from darkness to light, which I believe is the story of us all who have put our trust in Jesus.
The girl follows the Ark of the Covenant, and it leads her into peace and family, redeeming grace and hope.
I loved this story. I read it slowly this time. Often when I am reading, I read quickly because I want to know what happens next! But this time, I read the story slowly, and just rested in the peacefulness of the setting and the plot.
There is a clean romance as part of the plot, which would be encouraging to young women/men in your life who are looking for God's best. Honesty, courage, love, service, and kindness are all interwoven in the story, as well as how to handle situations when these character qualities are not demonstrated.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction and stories based on the Bible. This would be a great book to include as part of a high school homeschool curriculum.
Many blessings to you as you grow in grace and the knowledge of Him, Beth
*Disclosure statement: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
If you love to see the bible come to life then you are in for a tremendous treat as you read about the Ark of the Covenant, stolen by the Philistines and then returned to Israel -a bible truth. The fictional story revolves around two children, born in Philistine but raised by a Hebrew slave lady, who follow the Ark to its resting place among the cedar trees. God’s plan is for them to know His love for all people by seeing God’s love reflected in their adoptive father, mother and siblings. As with most folks, unconditional love is difficult to believe, understand and accept. But God always has a plan-read this story that includes plots of danger, budding romance and an appearance by a prophet. Character development is what you want and get from this anointed and gifted story teller.
5.0 out of 5 starsAnother Gem Dwelling in Connilynn's Collection--and My Heart
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2021
I received To Dwell Among Cedars for Christmas, but saved it in order to savor it. I'm not sure if I would've wanted to read it earlier, but this novel was certainly worth savoring. At first, I thought it wouldn't be as good as other Cossette books; the first half didn't seem quite as deep as I'm used to. But Connilynn crafted a jewel once again.
As always, I loved the characters in To Dwell Among Cedars. I commend Connilynn for crafting a story that shows two "grafted branches" having extremely different reactions to being accepted into the family of Yahweh. That thread could've been simplistic, preachy, or both, but it came across as relatable and true to the human experience, whether in first-century Israel or twenty-first century America. Margin note: I didn't know Connilynn was an adoptee, which only adds to the veritas. Again, bravo.
Eliora and Lukio/Natan themselves, as well as Ronen, Yoela, Elazar, and the secondary cast, all come through beautifully. Everyone gets the exact amount of page time they need for readers to get to know them, and everyone is three-dimensional. I particularly loved and related to the thread of Eliora trying to earn a place at the table, and hating her identity as a Philistine. When she expressed this to Ronen, I literally put the book down and said, "Oh, sweetie." And then my heart went "boom," because I have felt--feel--the same way she does. May God have mercy on me.
In terms of Ronen, I didn't expect him to be a swoon-worthy hero, but he turned into one. What I liked best about him was that his heroism came from spirituality more than physical or mental and emotional prowess. Ronen's character growth is organic and perfectly timed, and his struggles between whether to do the right thing vs. stick with his uncle and cousin's plans, are again as relatable as it gets. I also loved Ronen's journey of rediscovery where music and singing are concerned. Coupled with Eliora's journey, it made a deep impact.
The romance between Ronen and Eliora is also wonderful, understated and sweet but also passionate in the best and purest way. Their embrace in the garden was one of my favorite scenes, as was the scene where Ronen coaxes Eliora to uncover her hair. Additionally, I loved that the romantic conflict was not, "We can't be together because Eliora is a Philistine and other people won't approve." Rather, the romantic conflict came from the well-developed personalities of these characters, their spiritual growth, and their need for each other, as well as Yahweh.
As for Eliora's Philistine heritage, Ronen and Samuel were right. It makes her witness even more credible and memorable. Again, her conversion could've been too easy or preachy, but Connilynn made it feel natural. I loved watching her learn that her safety came not from the ark or an object in general, but from God Himself. And even though Eliora didn't meet Samuel in person, I loved his inclusion in the story. I admit, at first I thought he might be an angel or even a version of Jesus :)., but Connilynn's portrayal of Samuel was well-researched and clever.
As you can see, I could go on all day, but I won't. All I'll say is, Connilynn Cosette is an author you need to read, especially if you want Biblical fiction that stays true to Scripture and perfectly captures the culture of Israel. I'm already looking forward to Between the Wild Branches in the summer.