After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.
But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.
As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?
A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.
If you’ve never read a story by Joanne Bischof, then you are in for a real treat. Bischof is a talented word weaver whose lyrical style is very special. It allows the reader to not only feel the emotions of the tale and its’ characters, but to be completely transported to another place and time.
Reading Sons of Blackbird Mountain, I could smell the Norgaard’s apple orchard, feel the rising mist of a mountain morning, and see in my mind’s eye the haven of Aven and the Norgaard brothers. But even more than that, I experienced Aven’s uncertainty as she yearns for a safe place to belong. I felt the bond among Jorgen, Thor and Haakon even as they displayed the realistic tension and acceptance of siblings.
Aven experiences a complex journey not only physically, but emotionally. Fleeing a sparse and unstable past, she arrives at the home of distant relatives whom she has never met. What courage she displays, but her fears also seep out. Still, she doesn’t allow that fear to overwhelm her or for her first impressions of the brothers to keep her from learning their true natures.
The Norgaard men are well-drawn and each unique in their personalities. Jorgen as the oldest is steadfast and calm and Haakon as the youngest is charming and mercurial. However, it is Thor who is meant to capture the heart of both Aven and the reader. I love that Bischof created a hero who is deaf. It is clear by they author’s portrayal of Thor that she has taken great care in researching and depicting realistically this type of disability, particularly during this time period. Thor is the heart and soul of the Norgaard brothers. Apart from his family, he remains remote and locked away in his pain. But Aven’s arrival changes everything, for all of them.
I loved The Sons of Blackbird Mountain and am looking forward to it’s sequel next year. I can’t wait to continue the stories of the Norgaard family in Daughter’s of Northern Shores.
For images which inspired this story, check out the author’s Pinterest page.