About the Book
Title: To Dwell Among Cedars
Series: #1 The Covenant House
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: December 2020
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Eight years ago, when the Philistines stole and then surrendered the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora left her Philistine homeland to follow the ark to the community of Kiryat Yearim. There, the family she was adopted into has guarded the ark at the top of a mountain in seclusion.
Ronen is a Levite musician determined to secret away the ark to a more fitting resting place, watched over by priests who would restore the Holy of Holies. He never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he’s tasked to deceive.
As Ronen’s attempts to charm Eliora lead them in unexpected directions, betrayal leaves Eliora with strained family ties and Ronen questioning his own loyalties. Ultimately, Eliora and Ronen are caught up in the battle for the soul of Israel and its future under the leadership of Samuel, the last judge before the era of the kings begins.
My heart is full upon completion of reading Connilyn Cossette’s newest offering, To Dwell Among Cedars, #1 The Covenant House. This Biblical fiction book contains everything I am looking for in its genre. Scriptural accuracy, while approaching an age-old narrative of Israel in Samuel’s time from a unique viewpoint of Philistine Arisa (Eliora). Cossette vividly portrays all the emotions- the terror, the fear, the astonishment, the romance, and the suspense. As the uncertainty of being orphans at the whims and mercy of others is clearly shown, I couldn’t help myself from being drawn into Eliora’s life as she struggles for a sense of belonging and security, and ultimate love. Though she and Lukio(Natan) are adopted by generous and loving priest Elazer and his family, Eliora always feels herself an outcast.
Ronen, a member of an different priestly line than Elazer, first finds Arisa and Lukio(Natan) as they follow the Ark back into Israeli territory after its Philistine capture. An orphan himself, he deals with some of the same insecurities of not belonging as Eliora. These are a driving force in his thoughts and actions. There we have wonderful, multiple storylines going.
I loved Connilyn’s style-immediately warm and enticing you into the narrative, enveloping you into the ancient Biblical events very quickly.
Cossette sets the stage with some unusual premises. Not once did I feel that believability was stretched. One other point that makes me greatly treasure this novel is the many nuggets of truth shared and spoken naturally in uncontrived conversation. Connilyn Cossette is a master in her world of Biblical fiction. I am very sad it will be another year before we can read Natan (Lukio’s) story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, as well as NetGalley. I am voluntarily leaving this review. All thoughts are my own.
“There is no magic in the box itself, Arisa. The power is that of the hand of Yahweh. It is merely a vessel, but one that signifies the sacred covenant between Israel and our God and above which has hovered the very shekinah of the Eternal One.”
”But the Eternal One was not made by man; there is no place you can go that he will not be with you.”
”He is the God Who Sees. There is no place you can go to escape his vigilant watch over you.”
”It is not the Ark you must follow, my precious child. It is the God who made you.”
”…So why do you work so hard for a place at their table when you already have one?”…”you are working so hard to earn something you’ve already been given.”
”Because you are the woman the Creator made you to be, no matter where you come from or what you look like.”
”No matter what decision I made, the cost would be great… the cost of going against the will of the Eternal One was greater by far.”