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?
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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), slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem, 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.
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!
In terms of writing Biblical fiction, Connilyn Cossette can do no wrong. Shelter of the Most High, book 2 in her Cities of Refuge series, is another slam dunk! This book is SO good it’s officially on my re-read pile for FOREVER. The plot is so highly engaging that pages flew by at lightening speeds. The characters are perfection — Eitan stole my heart and Sofea is truly endearing. And, the themes Ms. Cossette illustrates within Shelter of the Most High are timely and allow the reader to self-reflect. Shelter of the Most High is without a doubt a must-read for 2018.
When Sofea, the heroine of Shelter of the Most High, first arrives in Kedesh, she is a traumatized, battered young woman who doesn’t speak or understand a single word of Hebrew, and has no clue about who the One, True God is. Sofea grew up surrounded by darkness. Her father, the Sicani chieftain, ruled harshly, violently, and selfishly. He believed his gods gave him the power to be whatever kind of leader to his people that he wanted to be. He hurt people, he took from people, and he sacrificed people to the gods all to suit his whims. When Sofea enters into Kedesh, she believes her life will be just as hard, if not harder, than her home life because she assumes all people, no matter where they live, are the same as her Sicani tribesmen. Sofea fears she is going to be made a slave, or worse, be used as a sacrifice. As a reader, I felt the frustration of not being able to speak to Sofea and clear things up. I actually felt as helpless as Darek, Moriyah, and Eitan as they attempted to communicate with her. However, within the first day of being in Darek and Moriyah’s home, Sofea starts to realize that there is something different about these people and she is confused. These strange people are not acting mean, cruel, or selfishly. Instead, they are feeding her, clothing her, giving her a place to clean in private, ministering to her wounds, and providing her shelter. This is all so odd and foreign to Sofea that she says to herself, “Who [are] these people?”
This moment in the book, this question, made me stop and think hard. In fact, I put the book down and turned to my husband and asked, “If a foreigner who couldn’t speak a word of English came to our door clearly needing a lot of physical help, would that person see kindness, compassion, and care? Would our actions set us apart? Would this foreigner ask herself, ‘Who are these people?’ as Sofea does in Shelter of the Most High?” This was a hard mirror to look into! While I don’t think it is smart in this day and age to open your door randomly to all strangers — some could actually be very bad people looking to take advantage of innocent people — this scenario showed my husband and myself that maybe we could be a little more compassionate towards our fellow man. Perhaps we are a bit too self-focused. I really love when a book stops a reader in her tracks and forces her to do a bit of soul-searching. Shelter of the Most High definitely forced me to take a good look into my heart and assess the kind of woman I am today, and I appreciate that this book did this for me.
Of the many characters in this novel, I closely relate to Eitan and one of his major struggles. Eitan knows why he is in Kedesh. He understands that God put him there. Honestly, most days he has resignedly accepted that God has kept him in Kedesh. BUT, Eitan is beyond frustrated by his circumstances, and he feels hopelessly trapped. It makes him restless, angry, and cagey. The way Eitan feels brought me to tears. At this point in my life, I 1000% understand his trapped, frustrated, hopeless feelings. Feeling trapped with no way out is one of the worst feelings in the world. The only way to overcome this awful feeling is to stay focused on God. We are all Esthers in our own right; we are all here for God’s purpose and for such a time as this. Eitan works through this battle — and many others; he’s quite the busy guy in this story! — really gives himself over to God’s plan, and comes out a better man in the end.
I am truly saddened that my time with this book is over. If I didn’t have such a full review schedule I would absolutely re-read this book right now. If you are looking for a well-researched, fast-paced, stunning Biblical narrative, I highly recommend Shelter of the Most High. This book is AMAZING!
I received a review copy of this novel in paperback form from the author via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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.
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