“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.