I first heard about author Sarah Loudin Thomas when I read her novella in the Christmas Heirloom (you can read my review on these 4 novellas here). When I saw When Silence Sings as an option to read and review for Bethany House, I decided to dive in.
As a Long-Standing Feud Threatens to Spark Once More,
the Fates of Two Families Rest on the Most Unexpected of Shoulders
For years, Serepta McClean has towered over the coal-filled hills of West Virginia, taking more than her share of legal and illegal trade alike. She’s intent on securing the future of the McClean name, despite two unreliable sons and a long-standing feud with the Harpe clan that’s exploded once again into violence.
While many fear her, and many more despise her, few dare to stand against her. Especially not someone like Colman Harpe–a railroad man with dreams of being a preacher. And yet it’s a reluctant Colman, Serepta’s sworn enemy, who finds himself in this powerful woman’s territory, supposedly sent there by God himself to share stories of love and hope.
With the feud growing ever more dangerous, putting the entire region at risk, these two impossibly different people find themselves on a collision course. And the very lives of everyone close to them will be changed forever.
It sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Although there is a bit of a love story woven in, this book is strictly historical fiction (not historical romance). There’s mystery, adventure, faith, and of course a feud to rival any other.
This story is a bit of a play on the story of Jonah. Okay, not a bit. ExceptWhen Silence Sings set in West Virginia in the 1930s, there were many parallels. Namely how Colman Harpe had a direct call from God to preach to the McLean clan. But the Harpes and McLeans had been feuding basically forever… even to the death at times.
As a Harpe, he believed the McLeans were sinners undeserving of his message—much like Jonah. And no, it wasn’t a fish that swallowed him, but Thomas found another way to entrap Colman as he fought his call.
I think the most precious part of this story was the orphan girl Serepta McLean rescues. I have to be honest, I was not keen on Serepta mothering the child. And in the end… well… that would be a spoiler wouldn’t it? I’ll have to leave you to make your own opinion.
The most complex was Serepta herself. I applaud Thomas on her character development with this very human, very lost, very broken woman. A woman who craved power, but in truth was far more vulnerable than even she could have ever thought.
And Ivy. Ivy was a very interesting character, very loving. She gave of her kindness freely even though it was often returned with mockery. Even fear.
Sometimes I read a book and think ‘what a touching story’, or ‘wow the descriptions were incredible’. With this story it was the characters and how well they were brought to life. And their desperate need of Christ. Since Colman was on an Evangelistic mission, I would say that Sarah Loudin Thomas succeeded in her own mission in telling this story.
I give When Silence Sings 4 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and women’s contemporary fiction.
About the Author
Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia.
Sarah is a fund-raiser for a children’s ministry who has time to write because she doesn’t have children of her own. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Coastal Carolina University and is the author of the acclaimed novels The Sound of Rain and Miracle in a Dry Season–winner of the 2015 Inspy Award. Sarah has also been a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and the Christian Book of the Year Award. She and her husband live near Asheville, NC.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.