Title: Counted With the Stars
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Series: Out from Egypt, book 1
Major Themes: Ancient Israel, Ancient Egypt, Biblical Fiction, Romance
Synopsis: Sold as a slave by her father, Kiya must find a way to survive as Egypt is hit by plagues and her mistress grows angrier with her every day.
The first book I read by Connilyn Cossette was A Light on the Hill, and even though I struggled with a few scenes in that book, I was impressed by her writing style and the way she brought history to life. Since then, I’ve read quite a few of her books and loved each one, but I always wondered what came before that first one. I knew there was more—a part of the story I’d missed—but what that “more” was was a mystery to me. All I knew was that Counted With the Stars, her debut novel, had something to do with it, and I determined to find and read it when I could. Last year sometime, I finally found a copy of this book on a friend’s shelf! And as I suspected, this first book in the Out from Egypt series was just as good as I’ve grown to expect from her more recent books.
Life turns upside-down for Kiya when her father sells her as a slave. Going from a life of luxury and plenty to serving a spiteful woman isn’t the worst of it, though—the man she was supposed to marry turns his back on her as well, leaving her helpless and without hope. Her only joys are the few times she can slip out to visit her mother and brother in the marketplace, but even those moments are few and far between. Then, when strange things start happening, and plague after plague decimates her beautiful country, where can she find protection? With her mistress getting more upset with her every day, it seems, it’s only a matter of time before she’ll be beaten, or worse. Where can she find help and protection, especially when these plagues seem to be never-ending?
I’ve been deeply interested in the Exodus story for many years—and even wrote my own novel based on that time! So it was fun to see Cossette’s take on the story in Counted With the Stars. She did a much better job than I am ever likely to do, although I keep dreaming of going back and rewriting that story into something better one day. It’s such a beautiful part of the story of how God cared for His people, even when they were in dire straits themselves. Slaves, their owners basically practicing genocide on them . . . it wasn’t an easy time for the Hebrews, but God came through in marvelous ways. I’ve always wondered what it was like for the Egyptians to go through one plague after another. This book showed me a little of that, and I’m glad it did.
If you enjoy Biblical fiction that deserves the name, I’d recommend you check out this series and the others by Connilyn Cossette. She sticks to the Biblical narrative, and although some things in these books aren’t in the Bible, some of them can be found in places like Josephus and other old writings. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books, and getting to know these characters a little more!
WARNING: Praying to the gods happens in ch. 1, and Egyptian gods are mentioned throughout the book. Someone swears in ch. 2 and 10, and goodness is used in ch. 6. Lying happens in ch. 4, 7, 10, 11, and 19, and people are suspected of stealing things in ch. 29. A woman thinks about priests drinking sacrificial blood during rituals, and a mention of babies being exposed to the elements to die appears in ch. 6. A woman has a nightmare and sees blood everywhere in ch. 8. Animals are found, dead and rotting, in ch. 12, there are bad boils in ch. 13, and a girl is found drowned in ch. 15. A woman is beaten in ch. 16. Someone retells a story of people being killed and women being violated in ch. 22. In ch. 23, someone tells how people advised her to let her son die because he was born crippled, and how she had an affair (this is also referenced in ch. 5). A woman has a knife to her throat in ch. 31, and a man’s bicep is sliced. A woman is found with her throat slit in ch. 36. A woman has a knife to her throat in ch. 37, and a man tells her he will use her. There is a battle in ch. 38, a man appears drenched in blood and threatens a woman, and a man is killed. A man recounts seeing his father being killed in ch. 39, and how he determined to kill someone after that.
People bathe nude in ch. 5. A man appreciates a woman’s shape in ch. 11, and in ch. 12, a woman says she is planning to give herself to a man to free her friend. A married man asks a woman to be his concubine in ch. 15, and holds and kisses her, reminding her that she had already given him herself once. Women’s things are referenced in ch. 16. A woman tells about a time she gave herself to a man in ch. 35. Unmarried people hold hands or otherwise touch in ch. 24, 27, 28, 29 (man puts his arms around a woman’s waist to keep her from falling), 31, 35, 38, 39 (unmarried couple spends a night alone together—no insinuations that anything happened, although they did kiss at least once), 40, and 42 (another kiss here).
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults