My Review - Sons of Blackbird Mountain


A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

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.

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Why This Book:

After enjoying Joanne Bischof’s award-winning The Lady and the Lionheart, I was eager to read what she released next.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Blackbird Mountain, Virginia

August 27, 1890

Aven peered down at the letter again, noted the address written in Aunt Dorothe’s hand, then looked back to the wooden sign that was staked into the ground.

First Impressions:

I enjoyed the first scene. The descriptors and way it was written conveyed a sense of authority and realism that almost convinced me the author had actually been there. The details were so accurate and written in such a way that there was no doubt in my mind, this was exactly how it was and how it happened. In fact, the same authority and realism can be said of the entirety of the novel. However, to be honest, the next two and a half chapters dragged for me. I know some readers will disagree and appreciate the backstory and world-building which it covered, so take my opinion for what it is – my opinion. However, for me, it felt like the story didn’t truly begin until the middle of the fourth chapter – when the trouble began in earnest. (If, like me, you might prefer a little less world-building and backstory, don’t let this discourage you, though! It’s worth it!!!)

Main Characters:

Aven Norgaard –  A quiet, yet intrinsically strong young woman with an intuitive way of understanding people. Yet, her own baggage sometimes interfered with her interpretations of others’ actions. It is fascinating to see how she adjusts to her new home and family.

Thor Norgaard – The middle child of the Norgaard sons and a deaf man. At the start of the book, he struggles with addiction and as the reader, we aren’t certain where his path will lead.

Haakon Norgaard – The youngest and most hot-headed of the sons, Haakon’s backstory greatly influences his choices throughout the book.

Jorgan Norgaard  – The eldest brother, caught between his two younger brothers’ feud over their new arrival, his choices in handling the situations which arise are interesting.

Miss Ida – The Norgaard … housekeeper? It seems an insufficient word to describe her role in their lives. She takes care of the domestic duties, yes, but she is also the closest thing they have to a mother figure. Oh, and she’s a former slave that worked a neighboring farm before the civil war.

Cora and her children – Cora is Ida’s widowed sister who lives with her three young children on another section of the large Norgaard farm.

Thoughts on characters overall:  Each character is unique, thoroughly fleshed out and complex. Their actions are believable throughout the book, and you never feel anyone is doing anything “because it’s in the script.” Each character serves an important role in the story.

Book Quote - Sons of Blackbird Mountain - Surprising Disappointment

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

After the middle of the fourth chapter, I didn’t want to put the book down. I was thoroughly invested in the lives, hopes, and dreams of these characters and was eager to see what happened next. I actually choked up a time or two and cheered aloud at one point (drawing eye-rolls from my darling children).

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

Before the start of the story, there is an introduction which explains how the communication with Thor (the deaf character) will be handled on a practical level within the writing of the novel. I found this very helpful and was impressed with how well and easily this aspect of the story read.

I really enjoyed the uniqueness of having a main character who was deaf. I felt the author did an excellent job of portraying how this changed the man’s life in both big and small ways, as well as how it affected the other people in his life.

One of my favorite examples was in a church scene where the preacher stands at the center of the congregation and rotates to face each side of the group in turn so that Thor only sees the man’s lips for about one-quarter of the sermon. Imagine how that would affect a person who primarily understands what is being said by reading the person’s lips.

I also appreciated how the author portrayed the issues of alcohol addiction, the racial tensions that remained after the civil war, and the various realistic tough choices, both good and bad, which each of the characters made throughout the story.  No one was all good or all evil. Not every decision was clear-cut, right vs wrong. This added to the realism of the story.


The struggle to forgive and show compassion without sacrificing safety, integrity, and justice.


While things are far from all-tied-up in a nice little bow, there are enough issues resolved, or seemingly resolved, to provide a satisfying conclusion. By no means does it feel like a cliffhanger ending, but there is definitely lead-in for the next book. Which I thoroughly intend to read.

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

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Let’s chat!

In this novel, one of the main characters, Thor, is deaf. Do you have any connection to the deaf community? Which part of the description/premise of Sons of Blackbird Mountain most appeals to you?


“I choked up, teared up and cheered!”#BookReview #SonsofBlackbirdMountain @JoanneBischof

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !


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About the Author

Joanne Bischof

JOANNE BISCHOF is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at, Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof, Instagram: @JoanneBischof.

Guest Video from Joanne Bischof

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Sons of Blackbird Mountain Giveaway Image

To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away

Grand prize of a country crate, a jar of apple butter, a bag of gummy berries, journal, bath salts, honey spoons, copper earrings, and a blackbird sign!!

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