Daughters of Northern Shores (A Blackbird Mountain Novel)

Written by Joanne Bischof
Review by Viviane Crystal

Meet the Norgaard family of rural Appalachia in the late 1800s: Norwegian immigrants who are devout and tough people.  Thor, who is deaf, and his brother Haakon vie for the love of Aven, with Thor winning her heart.  Haakon winds up having to escape the family’s wrath.  Since the Civil War, the family has also feuded with their former neighbors, the Sorrels, a conflict that evolves into a final brutal scene.  Years pass, with the family changing their hearts and longing to see each other but unsure if that would be wise.  Haakon has been at sea, transporting ice, spices and needed products between Norway and the Caribbean.  Although he still has strong feelings for Aven, Haakon’s is deeply in love with a young widow in Norway. But first he knows he must return to his family and earn forgiveness and trust, a formidable task!  The family meets the challenge of former Ku Klux Klan members who vow death and disaster to the Norgaard family.

The plot in this novel is quite simple but highlights the unique and riveting internal development within each character. Initially, we have insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings, revealing how actions become haunting memories that cannot be shut out by drink or drugs. Over time, these memories demand a response, and it is a tribute to the Norgaard family that they choose a difficult, redemptive path to satisfy their inner turmoil.  Worship and Bible reading play a vital part of daily life.  Second chances are offered for the worst offenses, with the realization that each choice shapes the future.  Daughters of Northern Shores is a very nice read with some historical references evoking Norwegian immigrant life.