Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.
Having fled the Norgaard orchard after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade, where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s—which is already imperiled due to a grave illness brought to him at the first prick of warfare.
Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.
This was the story I never thought I wanted.
The story ties in very neatly and cohesively with the first book. But I wasn’t sure just how I felt about Haakon being back and being a major player in this story (which speaks volumes to how well she developed him in the first book). If you’ve read Sons of Blackbird Mountain, the first book in the series, you know that he did a super spoiler-y thing at the end and has generally been a bit of a pain before. (Although not without his reasons.)
I was very curious to see just how his forgiveness arc would go. Forgiveness arcs, in my opinion, are one of those things that are done very well or very horribly. Joanne Bischof aced it. They didn’t all drop everything just because Haakon was back. In fact, by the end of the story, the ones he’d hurt the most (Aven and Thor) still struggled with him. Haakon had to make good on his promise, to show he truly was changed, before they would trust him--as it should be. Even though the characters chose to forgive right away, trust didn’t come right away. That’s a missing ingredient in a lot of forgiveness arcs.
This book handles a lot of sensitive subjects very well, much as its predecessor did. This book sensitively handles topics such as drug use, alcoholism, and domestic abuse. It also sports a very diverse cast, more diverse than most anything else I’ve seen in Christian fiction, including a Black family and a Deaf protagonist. Rather than dealing with an initial romance, this story focuses on the challenges that come after.
The inclusion of Kristji was very interesting, considering she has a huge bearing on the plot—even is pictured on the front cover!—but only appears in one, perhaps two chapters. It was an interesting cliché-bender.
And that spoiler-y death at the end! I’ve got to admit, that got me. I have not read that much of a tearjerker death scene in a while.
Daughters of Northern Shores follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, charting courses that are rarely trod in Christian fiction.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!