Over the past year, I have become a big fan of Connilyn Cossette! I took a chance and joined the launch team for her debut novel, Counted with the Stars. Fortunately, I loved it! I’ve been waiting quite impatiently for the second book in the series to come out! I’m happy to report to you that it is out, and it is so, so good!!!
As you’ll see in my quotes section below, this book is full of gems of wisdom! I think I might have highlighted half of the book! And don’t miss the interview with the author, Connilyn Cossette, at the end of this post. I enjoyed her answers so much and feel like I learned a lot about her as a person as well as what inspired her to write this book!
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About the Book, Shadow of the Storm
Title: Shadow of the Storm
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Series: Out from Egypt, Book 2
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Bethany House
Print Length: 352 pages
Summary from Amazon: Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mt. Sinai, upon which rests the fiery glowing Cloud containing the shekinah glory of God. When the people disobey Yahweh and build a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to learn the arts of midwifery. Although her mother wishes for her to continue in the family weaving trade, Shira’s gifts shine brightest when she assists with deliveries. In defiance of her mother, Shira pursues her heart’s calling to become an apprentice midwife.
When a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself bound to a man who betrayed her, the caretaker of three young children, and the target of a vengeful woman whose husband was killed by Shira’s people, the Levites. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira will come face-to-face with the heartbreak of her past that she has kept hidden for so long. How can she let go of all that has defined her to accept the love she’s denied herself and embrace who she truly is?
Oh, this is a good read! I fell in love with the character of Shira in Cossette’s debut novel Counted with the Stars, and I was so excited to get my hands on her story! Cossette delivered with a story that is every bit as compelling as her first one! There is so much to love about this book: complex characters who are flawed and experience great growth through the story, rich historical settings and vivid imagery, and realistic imaginings of what it might have been like to camp around Mount Sinai with the people of Israel who had just been freed from Egypt as well as the foreigners who joined them. But most of all, I love how Cossette’s love for Yahweh shines through this book and draws me closer to Him as well – she has shown powerfully through this narrative that Yahweh is and has always been a God of love and redemption, justice and holiness. A God who engages with people and leaves them forever changed. I highly recommend this book as well as its predecessor, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!!!
I received a complimentary electronic copy of this book from NetGalley.
A Few Favorite Quotes
“It was more than a miracle. It was the imagination of the Creator wrapped in the skin of a newborn babe.”
“A brother is to be a tall fence for his siblings, a strong wall to protect and comfort.”
“Only the giver of life has sovereignty over death.”
“For slaves who had never enjoyed a moment of freedom in hundreds of years, the Shabbat was an invaluable gift, a beautiful reminder that the Creator cared for us.”
“Until you accept the storms, and stop blaming yourself for them, you will not see how Yahweh has blessed you with them.”
“Look at the beauty that has come even from the ashes of your sins….It seems to me that Yahweh somehow takes the broken parts of us and builds something better than we could imagine.”
Interview with the Author, Connilyn Cossette
What inspired Shadow of the Storm?
SOTS was actually the third book that I wrote in this series. The concept for Book 3, Wings of the Wind, came to me first. But as soon as Shira appeared in Counted with the Stars I knew I wanted to find out more about her and her perspective on God and the Exodus. Of course, there were no plagues to work with this time, so I dealt more directly with Shira’s personal struggles and her misconceptions of her own identity. During this time there was a lot of doubt, rebellion, confusion and a fair amount of questioning God among the Hebrews and foreigners, so I used Shira’s slow path toward healing to depict some of these struggles. Our hero too, struggles with consequences of poor decisions and his own failings but comes to realize that even his messy past and broken pieces can be made into something beautiful, just like Shira, and the nation of Israel.
What was the most challenging part of writing this story?
Well, honestly I wrestled with this plot for a long while. Counted with the Stars was easy in terms of external plot, since the Book of Exodus contains exciting plot points like plagues, the sea parting, Amalekite attacks etc. But this year at Sinai is fairly vague. Other than the Golden Calf incident, building the tabernacle and, soon after they left, a horrible storm that burned the edges of camp, there was not a whole lot to drive the story forward. And honestly, my first attempt was boring. So very, very boring. I was challenged to dig deeper, delve into Shira’s wounds and create a bitter, jealous antagonist that somehow still causes the reader to sympathize with her pain. It was tough to remold the manuscript that I began with into something better, but it became a story that reveals more of my heart than any other so far.
What was your favorite part about writing this story?
The research for this story was really enjoyable. Since I am an adoptive mom, never having given birth and certainly not familiar with midwifery, I spent lots of time reading, watching videos and documentaries, consulting with a midwife, and talking with friends who experienced midwife-attended births. I learned so much about the birthing process and came to deeply appreciate the heart of those who pour their lives into the support of pregnant women, in any capacity.
What aspects of yourself did you write into Shira’s story?
Although Shira has endured a horrific act of violence that I have not, she and I share a commonality—our children entered our lives by adoption, not biologically. Writing from the perspective of a woman whose body was barren and yet her heart full of maternal yearnings was in some ways easy, since it my own experience, and in some ways difficult, in that I had to dig back into some of those feelings of grief, pain, and even jealousy that I struggled with in my seven years of waiting to be a mother. Shira is also a bit like me in that we both tend to bury our hurts and put on a happy face, either from fear of rejection or to not “bother” others with our problems. Like Shira, I’ve been learning to let down my walls and be vulnerable and also to see my own storms as blessings that make my roots grow deeper and stronger.
SOTS deals with some difficult subject matter, why did you chose to delve into these topics?
As I was studying Exodus, something that repeatedly came floating to the top was the women at heart of the story—their suffering, their wounds, and their courage. From Shifra and Puah, the midwives who stood against Pharaoh’s edict, to Miryam who watched her brother’s long, curvy journey towards his ultimate calling, to the myriad nameless women who served as slaves beneath the harsh and evil hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptians who oppressed them, murdered their children, and treated them as property. We know from history and even from current events, evil men who seek to dominate and oppress others are the most ruthless and disrespectful to women and children. Shira’s experience in Egypt was no doubt quite common among the Hebrews. I hope to show that women who have endured even the most brutal treatment can experience healing in God’s love, can be used to bless and heal others, and are precious in the sight of our heavenly Father. Broken pieces can be made into something beautiful.
What interesting historical facts did you uncover while researching?
Learning about the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was truly fascinating to me. Before when reading through Exodus I, like most people, skimmed through the seemingly endless instructions to Moses about how each part would be crafted. Once I delved into each separate element and the intricate processes, like the weaving, that were undertaken for each thing, I realized just what a problematic building project this was. From importing flax to make linen which did not grow in the desert, to the arduous process of shearing sheep and goats for wool, to the precious purple dye that had to have been purchased from traders all the way from Tyre, where it was harvested from a rare type of snail and the shani (kermes) dye which was made from a bug that lived on a certain type of tree found only in certain parts of the middle east—each detail had to be exact to the specifications of Yahweh, in order to reflect the glory of the Heavenly Temple, which the Tabernacle was patterned after. Also, I discovered that the worshipers of Apis and Hathor, the cow gods from Egypt, drank an ochre-dyed beer during their orgiastic rituals which stained their mouths bright red, which gave me a way for those involved in the Golden Calf incident to be found among the thousands of tents in that valley.
What spiritual themes do you want readers to take away from SOTS?
Above all my desire is for readers, especially women, to dig into the Word of God. My imaginings about the Exodus journey are just that, creations from my mind, and not in away way meant to replace the truth of Scripture. Whenever a reader reviews one of my books and says it made them go back and read the story again with a fresh perspective, I rejoice. But with regards to SOTS, my hope is that Shira’s story will inspire readers to remember how precious they are to Yahweh, how trials and tribulations are ultimately for our good; they cause us to run to our Abba, make us dig deeper into the foundation of the Word, and reveal strength and endurance that we did not know we possess. The overall spiritual theme though, is that God can take your broken pieces—those wounded, ragged, messy parts of us—and turn them into something beautiful.