Title: Shoshana’s Refuge
Author: Donna Flower Lawrence
Major Themes: Ancient Israel
Synopsis: When it appears that she accidentally poisoned her betrothed, Shoshana was forced to flee to the nearest City of Refuge—but what could she do with her life there?
I keep trying out different books of Biblical fiction. I like some of them, and I really dislike some, but I keep trying because I love historical fiction! My latest Biblical fiction read was Shoshana’s Refuge, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It was much better than the last one I read in this genre! I liked that the main characters were not people actually mentioned in the Bible, so there weren’t so many details to line up with the Bible (or not).
Shoshana, as a middle daughter in a family whose mother died several years ago. She had taken on the task of cooking for her father and sisters, even though her older sister was married. Cooking was what she excelled at. She knew no man would ever be interested in her, since she was so plain-featured. Then—a match was proposed, her father agreed, and the day she met her intended they had the betrothal feast. All was well, until the young man fell down dead in front of her, and evidence seemed to point to Shoshana having accidentally poisoned him. She had to flee the only home she had ever known, and reach Kedesh, the City of Refuge, before the Revenger of Blood found her.
Once in Kedesh, Shoshana floundered. She couldn’t bring herself to do the only task she was good at, cooking, and she couldn’t bear to stay penned up inside the walls all the time. But there was nowhere else for her to be safe! Why didn’t her family come to visit? How could she live, here in exile? Meeting the Levite Ronen and helping him compose music to his songs helped—but she knew he just wanted her help and didn’t care for her as a woman. What kind of future could she have?
I liked the wisdom that Ronen shared. One tidbit had to do with the fact that we are all image-bearers of God, and, as such, special. He also had a grasp on the fact that God wants a relationship with us, not just for us to follow the rules, and helped Shoshana and her family to understand it, too. I also loved the glimpse into how some of the Psalms may have been composed and sung, and the way the people of Israel worshipped in the time of Solomon.
This is a very clean book, which I liked very much. I liked the depth of character and spiritual insight woven through the story, and the lessons Shoshana learned. I loved the ending—what a surprising twist! I’m not sure how authentic it was, but it was a great ending to this story. This is a great glimpse into how the Cities of Refuge were supposed to work; I wonder if they actually did work as they were supposed to? I recommend Shoshana’s Refuge to anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction, or just a good story.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults