Sweeter than Birdsong was sent to my by Thomas Nelson Publishers as an advanced review copy. It is the second in the "Sadler's Legacy" by Rosslyn Elliott.
It’s 1855 in Westerville, Ohio, and Kate Winter has one thing on her mind: escape. She is hoping to graduate from Otterbein College in order to leave the town of Westerville, and her family’s dark secret, behind forever. When Kate hears of a musicale that is to be presented at the school, she sees it as a possible chance to flee, regardless of her own fears.
Ben Hanby, a gifted musician, attends Otterbein College as well. After hearing Kate sing, he is resolved to cast her in a leading role in the musicale, even though he knows of her terrible stage fright. Despite his newfound feelings for Kate, Ben must guard his own secret involving his role in the Underground Railroad.
Ben and Kate find themselves thrown together under some unusual circumstances; circumstances that will hopefully help Ben discover his path and Kate find her voice. They will both need courage and faith to also help others find the way to freedom.
After reading the first novel by Rosslyn Elliott, Fairer than Morning, and finding it one of the best novels I read in 2011, the bar was set fairly high for this second offering in the Sadler’s Legacy series.
Fortunately, Sweeter than Birdsong met and perhaps exceeded my expectations.
The characters of Ben and Kate had such depth and were crafted so elegantly that I truly cared about them. The writing flowed seamlessly without distracting from the story itself, and the plot was very well thought out.
The historical aspect amazed me as well. This book is based on the lives of real people in history, and the balance between their true lives and the fictional story was exceptional. I am always encouraged by those who were a part of the Underground Railroad, who saw every person as a soul who matters to God and who stood up for God’s law rather than man’s.
A critique that I mentioned in my review of the first novel, Fairer than Morning, was that it was very wordy. I sometimes got bogged down in the descriptions. Although I am no expert, I thought that Sweeter than Birdsong was much improved in this area. The descriptions and word pictures were still there, but I didn’t get that bogged down feeling throughout the book.
I will say, though, that this book, for me, got off to a slow start. Since I knew the story would eventually revolve around the Underground Railroad, I got a little impatient with the first few chapters involving the college and the musicale. Fortunately this didn’t last long, and the remainder of the story more than made up for the somewhat sluggish beginning.
I greatly enjoyed this novel, but what really impressed me were the last few chapters. I was so drawn into the events and to the characters that there was a point where I was practically leaping out of my chair and cheering! And one minor character, because of the things he was saying about African-Americans, had me wanting to reach through the pages and throttle him! Powerful writing can elicit powerful emotions, and for me, Sweeter than Birdsong did just that.
Rosslyn Elliott, in my opinion, has written another winner, a novel that I would recommend just as highly as her first. I look forward to more from her in the future.
I will give Sweeter than Birdsong … 4 ½ BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."