Gooood day girls! Wow life has been insane. Should I even bother trying to write out a whole update in a future post? I might. I might not. Anyway. Today I get to review the lovely book Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette. Let’s get right to it! (Please be sure to read the content warning!)
I’m going to start by saying I though this one was not going to be good because #1 I thought it was a Biblical fiction, and #2 it reminded me of The Conquerer by Bryan Litfin. Both of those concerns were swiped away quickly as I continued to read.
Shoshana was my favorite from the first chapter. Her quiet strength and utter devotion and love of *spoilers* just made me love reading about her every second I had a chance.
Same thing happened with Lukio. Every time it was his turn to have a section I was so excited to jump back into whatever was happening in his life. The way that the author kept us engaged in every chapter and excited to keep reading was pure talent.
I can’t say much more about Shoshana without spoiling parts of her story, and I don’t want to spoil it if it means you get to read and discover this beautiful lady the same way I did.
With Lukio, his redemption arc and the way he grew before my eyes was really super well done. Not too fast but not too slow, and very believable!
Oh boy. This plot had me sucked in every second of the read. The fast-paced detail that had me fully aware of what was going on without having to worry about how long it would take for things to get started came from the very beginning. The reveal of both Lukio and Shoshana’s past was quite on time and neither dragged out nor cut off too quickly as some authors will do.
Shoshana’s story itself was very sad. Seeing her strength come through and her utter dedication to her cause and the people she loved was inspiring. When I read the author’s note that she almost never came to be part of this book I was almost upset! She is part of the story. I’m so glad they decided to include her to race alongside Lukio.
Now Lukio himself. Oh boy. This man had quite the life. The gladiator before there were gladiators. I loved the symbolism of his “slavery” and the hold his cousin had over him, and then King Nicaro. There Philistine blood in his veins was powerful, and yet the author wove such a beautiful chord of grace and love of our God through Lukio’s life, ultimately ending exactly the way that I felt that our God should be portrayed. So often stories focus on grace and the cross and what Jesus did. The sinner vs the saved. This story focused so much more on the “chosen” and the “accepted.” The love of our God seeks out even those that aren’t Jews. The grace of our God seeks out the people who are hurting and living lives of the world. And He wants to draw them in and clean them off and adopt them into the unconditional love of His Son.
The other thing I want to bring up was my concern of Biblical fiction. I really just somehow can’t stand Biblical fiction and therefore usually avoid it. I didn’t know this was going to be a Biblical fiction when I ordered it for review. Thankfully, this story was fiction set in historical times. Not a Bible retelling. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s set just a little after Samson and during the rise of Samuel.
! Content Warning !
What to say. This book did not shy away from the abuse, both physical and sexual, that the Hebrew slaves suffered from when captured by the Philistines. I guess I’d say that the sensual content was none. I was so pleased with the lack of physical attraction and detail that was not included. Especially considering that Lukio was a well built warrior.
The graphics of this book were pretty big tho. Graphics of injuries, deaths, injuries resulted from sexual abuse, and there is a funeral scene that can be potentially very disturbing for certain readers.
*Based on the content, I would not recommend this for anyone under the age of 18 for sure.* But the story and plot are so very good and worth a chance if you can handle such things!
Five stars for this one! (please read the content warning) Between the Wild Branches is one I’m keeping on my shelf for a while.
I do not have a favorite quote for this one. There were too many (as in the whole book itself).
Thank you to Bethany House and the author for a free copy of this book! A positive review was not required and all opinions are my own. I really did enjoy it!
I’ve got more books coming this next month, so I’ll see you girls again soon!
If you want to read more reviews by me you can go here!