“I wish someone would find a way to write good Biblical fiction without delving too much into speculation about actual people.” My friend didn’t know why I was so bothered, so I tried again. “I just don’t like people that God chose to be a part of His Word speculated about quite so heavily. I love the idea of fiction set in Bible times so we can get a feel for what life might have been like for people living with those we’ve read about.”
She pointed out several rather popular Biblical fiction authors, and I winced at the one I was expected to gush over. “But I don’t like it. I don’t like reading the Bible and having it tainted with the imaginings of people. Thanks to her, I’ll never see Ruth and Boaz and their simple, beautiful story without it being tainted by someone’s reimagining of it.”
It’s no secret that despite my desire to read Biblical fiction, I rarely do. People ask and I just shake my head. I don’t like it… but I want to. A year or so ago, I got excited about one that imagined a life for someone only mentioned in the Bible. All we know is her name and her profession.
I couldn’t finish the book, much as I tried.
So, when the opportunity to review Biblical fiction comes along, I tend to ignore it. Then it happened. A cover snagged my attention, and I couldn’t help myself.
The synopsis—stunning. The genre… not so much. Biblical fiction. Still, that cover drew me in. I read the synopsis and had to give it a chance. After all, it was about a Biblical place more than specific people in the Bible Sure, they would probably mention those I knew from God’s Word, but as long as they didn’t have too much speculation about them…
I requested a review copy and it came—lovelier than I’d expected. Seriously. It’s a gorgeous book. The question would be… was it beautiful on the inside as well?
Note: links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested a review copy of this book, opinions I give freely and are only influenced by my personal experience in reading that book.
The No. 1 Thing I Like Best about Shelter of the Most High
The first pages slung a stone into the pit of my stomach. First-person present tense. If I were a crying person, I’d have cried.
But once out of that first chapter, it slipped back into past tense—still first-person, but dual perspective, at least.
And it’s well-done first person. I have to give Ms. Cossette credit. She does it well. I didn’t “forget” that I was reading in the first person point of view, but it didn’t jar the whole time either. That helped.
I’ll also admit that seeing the droves of comments about her beautiful descriptions had left me nervous, too. I love well-done description, but I like it to be as sparse as it can while still setting a mood and giving the story context.
From the way these people raved, I suspected they were huge fans of authors like Dickens.
Was it as bad as I’d feared? Nope. In fact, after that first chapter (where admittedly, I was overly critical while my teeth were on edge from that first-person/present thing), I didn’t notice the description anymore. That’s just how I like it—there… doing its job… making me feel as if I am in the story, but never crushing me with the weight of it.
But that’s not the thing I liked best about Shelter of the Most High.
I liked the spiritual lessons.
Strong, full of life, the entire novel is a sermon that you don’t even realize is one until you’ve finished. Connilyn Cossette weaves in spiritual truths so deftly that you can’t help but learn even as you are pulled deeper and deeper into the story.
In this regard, she’s probably one of the best authors I’ve ever read.
Look, I don’t know if she does this well in every book. This is the first I’ve ever tried of hers. It will not be my last. In fact, there’s a previous book in the series, A Light on the Hill. I’ve already written a note for it to be ordered for me. And as much as I know this could be a fluke—just a happy gift from the Lord—I don’t believe it. I think this is the beginning of a very long, happy relationship between me and Ms. Cossette’s books.
Has anyone read her Out of Egypt series? Is it about actual Biblical people or events? I’m looking longingly at those, too.
Recommended for anyone who loves Biblical fiction, obviously. Additionally, I recommend it for people who just love a good, compelling storyline with beautiful spiritual truths.
I have one caveat. There are a few scenes near the beginning which are brutal. A few times I did wonder if I’d be able to keep reading. However, once Sofea & Prizi reach Kedesh, the brutality ends. There are only references to it in a much less detailed fashion. That she took me to that edge but didn’t push me over is why I can still say I loved the book. I will say, however, my arms swung in circles to propel me backward a couple of times.
This book is on tour with Celebrate Lit.
About the Book
Book: Shelter of the Most High
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Genre: Christian Biblical Fiction
Release Date: October, 2018
The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.
Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.
As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?
About the Author
Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out From Egypt series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the Christy Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of twenty years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com.
Guest Post from Connilyn
Shelter of the Most High, the second book in my Cities of Refuge Series, will be the first I’ve written to have been influenced by my trip to Israel last year. When I started writing Biblical fiction almost nine years ago, I was limited to exploring the Land of Promise via Google Earth, books, and through a plethora of photos on the good ol’ world wide web, but of course nothing can compare to actually experiencing the atmosphere and scenery for yourself.
So although I’d already written Shelter of the Most High by the time I hopped on a plane to join fellow author Cliff Graham’s GoodBattle Tour, once I returned my editing was filtered through the sights and sounds I’d witnessed for myself. It had been a life-long dream to go to Israel and it did not disappoint.
In fact, it just went way too fast!
One of my greatest fears was that I would see the places I’d written about in my books and realize I totally messed up my descriptions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part I’d been fairly accurate (although I did tweak a few things here and there).
Standing on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee I was able to envision Eitan, our hero in Shelter of the Most High, sitting on one of the black boulders there, defeated and weary as he searched for his love. I was able to look toward the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon in the north and over the fertile Hula Valley just below the ancient ruins of Kedesh, the city of refuge, and consider how Sofea must have felt as she experienced the landscape of her new home for the first time, both the fear and the awe.
One of my favorite sites was Tel Dan.
And although it does not feature in Shelter of the Most High it’s lush greenness and dense forest gave me a better sense of what Israel must have been in the past before deforestation, war, and shifts in climate have done to the fertile land God himself called a land of milk and honey. Since I was so affected by Tel Dan (or Laish in ancient times) that city will be one of the settings in my upcoming third installment of the Cities of Refuge Series, Until the Mountains Fall.
Being a super visual person who is highly sensitive to sensory input, I took great pleasure in absorbing with all my senses as we walked paths, climbed mountains (yes, mountains), and slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem. We hiked up to the secret oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul and rocked along on a boat over the glassy surface of the Galilee. I felt like a sponge just soaking up every little detail and every grand vista.
Smelling the salty breeze off the Mediterranean and hearing the waves crash against the sandy beach in Tel Aviv and Caesarea Phillipi made me imagine our heroine Sofea looking over that enormous, blue expanse and wondering what sort of god had control of such a powerful thing.
Feeling the timeworn cobblestones beneath my feet gave me a sense of what it must have been like for Eitan and Sofea to walk through the streets of Kedesh, their own sandals scuffing against the rough-hewn stone as they went about their daily activities.
But that’s not all.
Running my fingers along the pitted surfaces of ancient buildings and tracing the chisel marks from craftsmen of the Bronze Age wrapped me in a whirl of imagination about who the people were that hefted those same rocks into place and the ingenuity it took to create structures that have lasted so long.
Tasting the unique spices and flavors of the Middle East gave me a sense of the passion Moryiah (our hero’s mother) has for creating delicious new dishes to feed her growing family and the guests at her inn.
Although I write fiction, my stories are woven into Biblical accounts so going to Israel was a perfect reminder for me that the people that lived between the pages of Genesis to Revelations were real. They breathed, they cried, they loved, they mourned, they suffered, and they celebrated with their families.
I am so grateful to have gleaned some great new insight into the Land and its resilient, vibrant people and hope that through Shelter of the Most High readers get a small sense of the beauty and wonder I experienced there. I cannot wait to go back! (edited for SEO)
A Baker’s Perspective, November 20
The Power of Words, November 20
Among the Reads, November 21
Gensis 5020, November 21
God’s Little Bookworm, November 22
Book by Book, November 22
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22
Remembrancy, November 23
Real World Bible Study, November 23
Inklings and notions, November 23
The Becca Files, November 24
Baker Kella, November 24
Bibliophile Reviews, November 25
The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 25
By The Book, November 26
Reading Is My SuperPower, November 26
Aryn The Libraryan, November 27
All-of-a-kind Mom, November 27
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27
Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28
Christian Author, J.E. Grace, November 28
Simple Harvest Reads, November 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
For the Love of Literature, November 29
Janices book reviews, November 29
The Lit Addict, November 30
Texas Book-aholic, November 30
Just the Write Escape, December 1
A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 1
Connect in Fiction, December 2
The Christian Fiction Girl, December 2
Bigreadersite, December 2
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 3
Purposeful Learning, December 3
Carpe Diem, December 3
To celebrate her tour, Connilyn is giving away
Grand Prize: All five of Conni’s novels, including Shelter of the Most High, plus AHAVA Dead Sea Bath Salts
Three other winners will receive a copy of Shelter of the Most High!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66d/shelter-of-the-most-high-celebration-tour-giveaway