About the Book
Book: Between the Wild Branches
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Series: The Covenant House #2
Release Date: July 6, 2021
Genre: Biblical Literature, Historical Fiction
Ten years ago Lukio fled Kiryat-Yearim, where he’d been adopted by the Levite family who guarded the Ark of the Covenant. Feeling betrayed by everyone, he returned to his birthplace in Philistia to become a famous fighter. Now the champion of Ashdod, Lukio has achieved every goal with the help of his ruthless cousin. But just as he is set to claim the biggest prize of all, the daughter of the king, his past collides with his present in the form of Shoshana.
After a heartbreaking end to her secret friendship with Lukio, Shoshana thought to never see the boy with the dual-colored eyes and the troubled soul again. But when she is captured in a Philistine raid and enslaved in Ashdod, she is surprised to find that the brutal fighter known as Demon-Eyes is Lukio himself.
With explosive secrets and unbreakable vows standing between them, finding a way to freedom for both may cost them everything.
The thing we never talk about in Prodigal Son stories is all the time the Prodigal loses while he is prodigal. Sure, we cover the bad at the beginning, we mention the stuff he’s going through during, and we definitely discuss the return home, but all the life that is missed — what family and friend’s go through while the Prodigal is gone, how they change and grow and marry and have kids and get jobs, etc. — is just missed and we never talk about it. Our perspective always stays with the Prodigal. He becomes the focus and all those he left just get left. For me, this is always the most devastating aspect to any Prodigal Son story. Between the Wild Branches really had me thinking on Prodigals. What drives us to be prodigal? Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have prodigal moments in our lives. We all “leave” to pursue what we want, when we want it, how we want it. We think we are so smart. We think we know better than those who love us the most. In fact, we convince ourselves that maybe our loved ones don’t really love us the most or they wouldn’t keep us from that thing we want. So we leave. In book 1, To Dwell Among Cedars, Lukio is a teenager. He is hurt by others and he doesn’t get what he wants, so he leaves. He leaves his adopted family, his dear sister, and the girl he loves all because he has hurt feelings, because he is stubborn, and because he assumes a whole lot. He decides to take control over his own life … and runs right into slavery. At first, slavery looks and feels good. He rises in the ranks as Ashdod’s best fighter. Women want him. Men want to be him. Every worldly desire is at his finger tips. He doesn’t need anyone or any god because Lukio is his own man. At the start of Between the Wild Branches, Lukio is pretty much at the top of his world. And then he sees Shoshana, the girl who got away, and his cushy, opulent life gets shifted on its very axis. The Prodigal has to face his truth — and what a journey it is!
This novel, like every other novel by Cossette, is outstanding. There are so many nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat moments that I feel Between the Wild Branches is totally unputdownable. My husband asked me to describe the storyline in a sentence and I told him, “Think Schindler’s List but scarier.” When I read in the Bible about the different kingdoms and rulers that surrounded Israel, I clearly get the sense that the nations were exceptionally debauched and devoid of a moral compass. The Philistines were a rough people. I know good people existed in these various nations — Rahab and Ruth spring to mind — but in general the nations were scary. Cossette does a great job capturing this aspect when she recreates ancient Ashdod. She also does a great job illustrating the hatred the Philistines felt towards the Israelites. King Nicaro is a straight-up terrifying character who wants to hurt and shame and destroy every Israelite, and what he allows to be done to people is gut-wrenching and sickening. BUT, no matter how bad Nicaro gets GOOD thwarts his plans. Yes, this earth is pretty terrifying right now. I think it may even be as scary as the days of the ancient Philistine. Right now it looks the darkest I have ever seen it and even scarier things are on the horizon. But no matter how dark it gets, God has His people stationed all over doing His good works. For some, that looks like teaching the kids no one really cares about or expects much out of; for some, it’s fighting terrorists in a military setting; and for some, it’s being in the trenches desperately doing everything they can to save humans from trafficking (just like in Between the Wild Branches). No matter how dark it gets, God still wins cause GOOD is still here. This is the point of Between the Wild Branches. We cannot lose hope in these dark times. Light will always prevail. What a perfectly beautiful truth and such an inspirational reminder for us all today.
Between the Wild Branches is AMAZING and I loved every minute of this story. This is definitely a book I will re-read again. I highly recommend this story and hope that you will immediately add it to your TBR list. This is a book you do not want to miss!
I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.