Author: Connilyn Cossette
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Series: The Covenant House #1
Release Date: December 1, 2020
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.
Reviewer: Winnie Thomas
Connilyn Cossette has a unique talent for making Biblical fiction come alive on the page. I don’t usually read many books in this genre, but since I discovered her last series, Cities of Refuge, I’m hooked on her stories. I’m always amazed at how she can take a small slice of history from so long ago and create fascinating tales around it. To Dwell Among Cedars is such a book, and I was totally hooked from the first page. Eliora and Ronen are realistically flawed and engaging main characters, and I enjoyed seeing their spiritual growth and their relationship evolve. A stellar and imaginative cast of supporting characters, including Eliora’s younger brother Natan, and a captivating storyline made this book a fascinating read.
Cossette’s impeccable historical details show evidence of her extensive research into Biblical times and people and gives authenticity to her story. Sweet messages of faith, hope, and the importance of a loving family add a layer of dimension and depth to it.
I’m looking forward to reading Natan's (Lukio) story in the next book of the series. There is a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end of the book in regard to him, but it sets him up for his story to come.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
"Follow the Ark, Arisa. Do not turn to the right or to the left, and do not stop until it dwells among cedars and you are sheltered in perfect peace."
Urged to flee Philistia before being forced to slave among lascivious temple priests, Arisa and her younger brother Lukio follow the curious gold box belonging to the Hebrews, as it makes its way out of Ashdod. Their childhood servant, a humble Jewish woman named Azuvah, had whispered stories about Yahweh all their lives, but hearing about Him and believing in Him were two totally different concepts. Tired, hungry, and homeless the two siblings happen upon a celebratory welcome for the revered Ark of the Covenant, only to become eye-witnesses to the magnificent holiness of the One true God.
Years pass following the adoption of the two orphans into a kind and compassionate Hebrew family. The talented Levite musician Ronen, who initially rescued Eliora (her new name) and her brother, returns to Kiryat-Yearim to discover that the scared little waif who clung to his back has turned into a very beautiful young woman. But Ronen's task in Eliora's home is not a pleasant one, for he is virtually a spy, working silently for an opposing Levite faction whose primary goal is to purloin the Ark in order to transport it back to the fully restored tabernacle. Urged by his cousins to use his masculine charm to extract information from Eliora regarding the Ark's location, Ronen quickly finds himself torn between the God he thought he knew about and the God that Eliora serves with her whole heart.
This author's ability to bring Scripture to life is astounding; capturing the beauty of the Old Testament with resounding joy, the book's powerful imagery paints landscapes of love, honor, and sacrifice, its characters exude the fragrances of flawed humanity who bow humbly before a God who not only sees and hears, but loves and forgives; a God who grafts the weak into the branches of the strong, and a God who writes His own song upon every heart, .
"There is no song more beautiful than the one the Creator is composing with every note of your life, one he's been weaving together even before your first breath."
I receive a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
"We can never guess what may come of our obedience, but that is not for us to know anyhow. We are not the All-Knowing One. We are simply called to 'hear and obey' and to love Adonai our God with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength."
Another incredible, heart-wrenching, soul-stirring Biblical fiction from Connilyn Cossette! To Dwell Among Cedars starts a new series The Covenant House, set during the time of the judges when Samuel starts his ministry. The story starts with the Ark's capture by the Philistines and the subsequent arrival of the Ark at Beth-Shemesh, and unfolds with the years following the Ark being ensconced within the mountain village of Kiryat-Yearim. The author has an uncanny ability to transport you to this faraway land and place you in the middle of the thriving community to see, hear, taste, smell, touch, and feel the daily activities, the novelty of hosting Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah) celebration, the unrest and division within the Levites, and the spiritual apathy and ignorance rampant in Israel during that time. Painted on this vivid backdrop, there are profound faith lessons on sense of worth and purpose, God's immeasurable grace and mercy, and the meaning of God's adoption of us as His children. If you enjoy Biblical fiction, this book is a must read. It will stay with you long after you've finished the book and have you going back to 1 Samuel 4-7 to see these Biblical passages with fresh eyes.
I loved Eliora, the rescued Philistine girl who becomes adopted into a loving and devoted Levite family that guards the Ark. She's loving and tender with a servant's heart but still struggles with her Philistine heritage and her place within the arms of a loving and gracious Yahweh as well as within her family. Her younger brother Natan (Lukio) grabbed my heart with his impulsive and rebellious ways that are fueled by rejection and resentment and I can't wait for the next book in the series where we'll get to meet the grown-up version of this young man. Ronen is so lovely in his genius and dedication as a Levite musician, devotion and loyalty to family, sense of justice (though sometimes misguided), and tenderness. There is awe, wonder and splendor of Yahweh seen with ethereal beauty of worship within these pages as well as betrayal, sweet romance, and power of familial love.
Definitely in my top 20 reads of 2020!
I received a copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I love well-researched Biblical Fiction, and I can always depend on Connilyn Cossette to deliver just that! To Dwell Among the Cedars is an inspiring book that shows the reader what it means to be in covenant with God.
The story centers around Eliora (Arisa), a former Philistine who, along with her brother Natan (Lukio), is raised by a Hebrew slave (Azuvah) in a violent idol-worshipping home in Ashdod. After a terrifying confrontation with their cousin, Azuvah realizes she must help the children escape to safety. So she says, "Follow the ark. Do not turn to the right or to the left, and do not stop until it dwells among the cedars, and you are sheltered in perfect peace." With those words to guide her, Arisa miraculously finds the ark and follows it to Kiryat-Yearim, where she and her brother are found by Ronen, a Levite musician.
As the year's pass, Arisa and Lukio are adopted into Elazar's family (who keep the ark safe) and become Eliora and Natan when they join in covenant with the Hebrews. As they are frequently reminded, they now share in the same inheritance Yahweh provided for the Jewish people through Abraham. And while they are grafted into the family of Abraham and share in the blessings of the covenant, both Eliora and Natan have a hard time believing it.
I loved how this story depicted how the children were grafted into the covenant. It is a stark reminder that those who follow Jesus are also part of that same covenant. A holy covenant with God and one, I think we tend to take for granted.
The spiritual and character development of Ronen and Eliora unfolded beautifully. This is a story with so many lessons and layers that the reader will be dwelling on it long after the last page.
If you like well-researched Biblical Fiction, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it!
I received this book courtesy of Bethany House Publishers, through NetGalley, for my honest opinion.
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