Thursday, November 21, 2013

Burning Sky: Review

This month has been busy, between NaNoWriMo, learning Python programming, and general busyness, but I’ve still had time to read a couple books. One of them was Burning Sky by Lori Benton—and it was a very good read…

Captive, daughter, wife, mother—Willa Obenchain has spent half her life among the Mohawk Indians. That life has ended for her, and she’s ready now to return to the life she had before, but that life has changed also. In the years since she left, the American Revolution has divided the country and the pioneer community she grew up in.

Burning Sky

The war might be over, but the country is definitely not at peace. Old feuds still divide the patriots and suspected loyalists, and especially the settlers and the Iroquois tribes that they perceive as ruthless savages. While most people are glad to welcome Willa back, they can’t forget their old bitterness against the Mohawks, nor can they believe that she might have found love and happiness among her captors.

Willa, for her own part, wants to shut out the pain of her past—almost as much as she wants to shut out the people that can’t possibly understand that pain.

Willa would prefer to hide her pain alone, inside her parents’ old cabin, but she is slowly forced to open the cabin to other refugees in need of shelter. One of these refugees is the injured botanist she found unconscious at the borders of her father’s land, with his own scars from the war and unsettled past.

Burning Sky is Benton’s first novel, though it doesn’t read like a debut story. It’s a story about the chaos of history, as well as grief and love. From the moment Willa steps back onto her father’s land, she has to face both the present dangers—the risk of losing her land, the anger of settlers still upset about the Indian raids—as well as her own inner turmoil. And for my part, I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed the writing, the characters, and the vividness equally well.

As a side note—part of my interest in Burning Sky initial came from my attempt years ago to write a captivity narrative similar to Willa’s life among the Mohawks. Benton’s story takes an entirely different approach, dealing with Willa’s story after her return, but knowing some of the challenges involved, I found Burning Sky to be an incredibly well-told story (and much better than mine could have been).

I would also add a caution for younger readers—this is a story I would like to recommend for all readers, but since the story follows closely after the American Revolution, there are a number of references to the war-time attacks, as well as some innuendo and an attack against Willa herself.

Apart from that, though, I would recommend Burning Sky for anyone who likes history with a touch of romance, or just a good book in general.

If you are interested, you can find out more about Burning Sky from the info page, including an excerpt from the first chapter, at WaterBrook Press.

[My thanks to WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy of Burning Sky, in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.]

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