To Dwell Among Cedars by Connilyn Cossette
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. (Summary taken off Goodreads)
Review …. 5/5 ★★★★★
As always, Cossette never disappoints! I was in love with the characters from the first page. I love how she makes Biblical settings so tangible to the reader, and the artistic liberties she takes in creating her characters make it all the more compelling.
I love how so often she uses foreigners to lead her stories about Israel, and the consequent messages about God’s love and mercy. In To Dwell Among Cedars, I was fascinated reading about Philistine culture and life, especially in contrast to the customs of Israel. I loved watching Eliora grow and transform, and the complex relationship she holds with her brother, Natan, was just so well done. I felt Eliora’s pain in his distance, and yet was still able to empathize with him (Natan) as well.
On the downside, I felt this novel was very predictable, and the plot very similar to Cossette’s other books. A foreigner adopted into Israel; a loyal Israelite; their eventual romance. Not that there is anything wrong with this—and this is coming from someone who inhales her books the second they release, so she’s doing something right with this storyline. But there were very few surprises.
I love the emphasis on relationships, primarily between Eliora and Natan. Of course Eliora and Ronen’s relationship was sweet too, but that was expected. Not that I didn’t like reading about the complexities of their relationship; the betrayal and secrets and mysteries—I thought it was very well executed. However, Eliora and Natan drove this story.
Ultimately, another great read from Cossette, and I can’t wait for her next one!