Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette is a book about love, desperation, hope, and redemption. The main character is a young Egyptian girl named Kiya who was sold into slavery by her father to pay off some debts. Although an Egyptian slave with an Egyptian master, she doesn't get any special privileges and finds herself turning to Hebrew slave Shira for friendship in the midst of desperation. Why does Shira stay so positive? Why doesn't she feel like the gods have stopped listening to her like Kiya has? And who is this Mosheh who Shira says is going to lead Israel away from their bondage?
The events of the 10 plagues of Egypt rise and fall throughout the book as we see Kiya struggling to find out where she belongs in her world that is being turned upside down.
The idea of this book intrigued me. As a lover of scripture, I have always wondered about the "other side of the story" in regards to the plagues of Egypt and the great Exodus. I have always speculated about what kind of people the Egyptians who chose to tie their future in with that of the Hebrews were like. Connilyn explores all of these questions with her brilliantly woven storyline.
I appreciated how she refers to all the Hebrews by their Israelite names as that really keeps it in character for the time period. Her knowledge of the Egyptian deities adds another level of detail, as the characters seek the help of their idols to save them through the destruction of their nation. Everything she addressed, really was something that I have always speculated on myself.
I really loved the dialogues and felt the story flowed remarkably well through the book. She revealed aspects of the characters past expertly, never making you feel like she didn't give you enough. That's always a pet peeve of mine. Sometimes it feels like authors cram a character profile into a chapter where it really doesn't belong.
I was curious to see how the author was going to address the events just after the Exodus as the Israelites are led by the pillar of fire/smoke and then the culmination at the Red Sea. I think she explored it in a way that surprised me, and though I do not think it happened the same way, she presented it in a way that made me pause and consider the possibilities.
The only part of the story that really rubbed me the wrong way, was when the children of Israel were at Mt. Sinai and were being spoken to by God. The Bible states that they couldn't handle it and asked Moses to just let God speak to him and then have him pass it on to them. In the book, the author has the Israelites listen the whole time, and portrayed them as being simply overwhelmed emotionally, while the children are enthralled. There isn't any place where they tell Moses they don't want to have God speak to them directly. This definitely goes beyond speculation, as it conflicts with actual scripture. (Read Exodus 20)
My favorite character was Shira and I admired the way the author gave us just enough information about Shira to tantalize us into wanting to know more. Needless to say, I'm very very grateful that Shira's story is going to be told next in the second book of this series...Shadow of the Storm (release date of October 2016).
This is a big deal for me, because I am very very stingy with my 5 star ratings and not many books even get my 4.5 star rating! But Counted with the Stars definitely does. It is a beautiful profile on what life was like as an Egyptian during the tumultuous time of the Exodus. I found that it touched my heart and even brought some tears as I experienced Kiya's journey to hope. If but for the place I mentioned above where speculation clashes with scripture, it would have earned a perfect score.
I absolutely recommend this book to any of my friends looking for a good read--and I urge you to keep Connilyn Cossette on your radar! She's going to be someone to watch!
As an extra note, I've enjoyed getting to know Conni a bit over the last few months as being part of her influencer team. She has a real passion for this new road she's taken and she has characters with voices desperate to be heard. I'm very thankful I was able to help her enjoy the months up to her launch date of this fabulous book!
Counted with the Stars (Out From Egypt Book 1)
by Connilyn Cossette
ISBN # 978-0764214370
Available as Kindle and Paperback