My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the Depth of the Storm's Shadow, Only Truth Can Light Her Way
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?
I was really excited to get the opportunity to continue following the Hebrews journey out of captivity and this book didn't disappoint. The thing that makes this story so interesting (besides the fact that Connilynn Cossette is such an awesome writer!) is that it brings to life the possibilities of what life was like after the Hebrews left Egypt. The fact that it wasn't just Hebrews was also interesting to me. It wasn't an easy journey and there were no perfect people. But where there is sin and corruption and abuse, there is also redemption, repentance, and healing.
In this book we get to read Shira's story. With an outward strength and compassion for others, Shira has come through slavery and an attack that stole her innocence and her future. But inwardly she still struggles and mourns the things that cannot be. Her struggle with the calling of being a midwife brings to life the heartbreak of her past as well the hope of a future that she wasn't sure was possible. It also brings her into direct contact with a woman who will do anything to avenge the death of her husband at the hands of Shira's people, the Levites. Good and bad, life and death, hope and despair - what will win in the lives of these two women and their families?
As for the hero, I was a little conflicted about him. His actions cause grief for Shira that follow them for a while including affecting the way his family treats Shira. Nevertheless, once he seeks forgiveness, he becomes the man of God that Shira needs. Will she open her heart to him after his betrayal?
It was good to read more about Kiya, Eben, and Jumo. Jumo's miraculous healing continues to be a source of wonder and joy for their families and Kiya and Eben are happily married even though Kiya still faces some prejudice from some of the Hebrews. Kiya and Shira continue to grow closer and Kiya is a source of strength for Shira in the tumultuous days to come.
With great depth and dramatic twists, the author tells the hopeful story of a journey to freedom, the lessons learned along the way, and the turning of a nation to the one true God who delivered them. You won't want to miss this 2nd book in the Out From Egypt series!
*Thanks to the author & Bethany House Publishers for a complimentary copy of this book. I was not paid or required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are my own.*
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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 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 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.
What is Shadow of the Storm about?
Shadow of the Storm is the story of Shira, Kiya’s Hebrew friend from Counted with the Stars. Shira is living in freedom at the foot of Mt. Sinai among the other Hebrews and foreigners but is still struggling with the wounds of her past in Egypt. When the chaos during the terrible Golden Calf incident provides her with a chance to assist a midwife she becomes fascinated by the process and hopes to become a midwife herself. However, her mother, who was also wounded in Egypt and very protective of her daughter, has other opinions. Shira uncharacteristically bucks against her mother’s tight grip and steps out to explore midwifery. But when a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira blames herself and gives in to fear and doubt to walk away from the path she had felt so called to follow. She finds herself caring for three motherless children, bound to a man who betrayed her and the target of a women who will do anything to fill the hole in her own heart. Just as the nation of Israel is struggling to break free from a past of slavery and false identity, Shira will be forced to decide who she is and who God is making her to be.
How does the Out from Egypt series continue after Shadow of the Storm?
I am very excited about the third book in this series, Wings of the Wind. It takes place nearly forty years after Shadow of the Storm, near the end of the wilderness wanderings. Although most people, as I did, tend to fast forward from the Golden Calf to the walls of Jericho falling, there was actually quite a bit of information about what happened in the months leading up to the Hebrew’s first step into the Promised Land. Wings of the Wind is the story of Alanah, a Canaanite woman whose family has been killed during a battle with the approaching Hebrews. Desperate, alone, and with a heart full of vengeance Alanah disguises herself as a man to go out and fight the Hebrews. But she never expected that she would survive the battle. Wounded, she is found by Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior who has just lost his closest friend in battle, and taken back to camp. To protect her, Tobiah must obey the laws put forth in Deuteronomy 21 that give Hebrew men the right to take a Canaanite wife, if she submits to certain stipulations, like shaving her head and mourning her family for 30 days before the marriage is make complete. When events from her past rush into focus, fragile trust and newfound faith in Yahweh will be put to the test and will set off a chain of events that places Alanah at the center of one of the most iconic battles in history. Alanah is very different from Kiya and Shira in many ways, but I think readers will see early on why she was so much fun to write. And Tobiah, ah….well, you’ll just have to wait and see why he’s my favorite hero so far.
Great Q&A! Thanks, Connilyn!! :)
Coming in Spring 2017:
Wings of the Wind (Out from Egypt #3)
Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.
Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.
Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?