I recently made the mistake of watching both The Last of the Mohicans and The Patriot in the vicinity of a few days. Then I started Lori Benton’s wonderful book The Wood’s Edge, also set in colonial America, and now my mind is firmly entrenched in 18th century America.
Living life in the 21st century is a real struggle right now my friends.
From the moment I read the first lines of The Wood’s Edge I was there. I was in Fort William Henry as it fell, I felt the desperate urgency of the characters, imagined the chaos taking place amidst the breathtaking beauty of the woods.
I have my favorites among Christian fiction, but ones as well written as this are hard to come by.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain the plot a bit.
In 1755, during the surrender of Fort William Henry to the French, Major Reginald Aubrey’s wife gives birth to a baby boy. Their child dies that same day. Wracked by grief and fearful for his wife’s sanity, Aubrey steals a baby born the same day and replaces it with his own.
Now this baby he’s taken is unique. Born as a twin to a white woman, who lives with and as an Native America, William favors his mother’s looks, while his brother Two Hawks, favors his father’s.
As the years pass no one suspects that young William is anything but Aubrey’s son; not his “sister” Anna, Heledd Aubrey, or the children’s good friend Lydia. Nevertheless, Aubrey is forever tormented by memories. He despairs that he will never be able to atone for his wrongs.
Across the woods, a twin grows up without his brother and parents without their child. The trauma of having their baby stolen from them haunts Stone Thrower and Good Voice. The pain that sears their hearts causes Stone Thrower to resort to drinking “the trader’s rum.” At night he dreams of killing the redcoat who stole his son. This anger of his causes his family sorrow upon sorrow.
In the midst of all the heartache, a bridge is formed between the two families. Anna and Two Hawks meet at the edge of the woods as children. As they grow up, they develop a deep friendship that blossoms into a beautiful romance.
The Wood’s Edge is woven through with redemption, forgiveness, and hope.
Rarely have I come across such an eloquent and profound story. The way Lori Benton weaves redemption into her story is incredible. Without sounding cheesy, she wove astounding forgiveness and faith into The Wood’s Edge.
Truly she has a way with words.
Here’s what I liked:
- She wrote of shallow characters without being shallow herself.
- The redemption stood out more so than it has in anything I’ve read in a long while. (Save the Bible of course.) By the end I was near tears with the forgiveness displayed.
- The wonderful, wonderful characters! I particularly liked Anna and Two Hawks, but every character was beautifully fleshed out. Having such character truly makes a story. I aspire to have such developed characters in my own creative writing.
- The romance of this story was just… remarkable. I loved it. Again, it was unlike some Christian fiction I’ve read in the sense that none of it was cheesy. Anna and Two Hawks had such a unique, lovely, ardent romance. Their relationship was one of deep friendship, faith, and romance, everything one could hope for. If I could be a fictional character I would choose Anna. Hands down.
- Last but not least, I loved the era and setting of The Wood’s Edge. Like I mentioned earlier, I truly felt that I was living with these characters. I’ve always enjoyed stories involving both Native Americans and America’s European settlers. History came alive through these character’s lives.
I highly highly recommend this book to everyone reading this. It just might be my favorite piece of Christian fiction. Lucky for us readers, there’s a second book that I cannot wait to dive into to. I’ll definitely be reading more of Lori Benton’s books!
(All photos in collage are from Pinterest. Cover image is fine. Also, fun fact, the Kansas book in the cover image was my grandpa’s when he was in elementary school. There are still cursive names written in crayon all over the inside cover.)