Title: Burning Sky
Author: Lori Benton
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
If you have to choose between a life you’ve been born in but lost twelve years ago and the life you were forced in but learned to live and cherish in that same twelve years, which would you choose?
This is the dilemma that presses upon Burning Sky of the Wolf clan as she rediscovers her lost homestead. Burning Sky, so named after a Mohawk Indian adopted her as her own daughter some twelve years ago, journeys back to the land where she was born and taken. What she will find when she reaches the cabin her father built, she is not sure. She is not even sure whether her parents and grandmother are still alive, then how can she foresee what lies in store for her? As she reaches her journey’s end, she finds herself trying to overcome challenges after challenges to regain the land she once called home compounded by her personal turmoils. For how long can she fight the struggles? Is she willing to risk everything just to gain back her family’s land even at the expense of losing herself in the process? Does she even know who she wants to be from thereon?
I started to read this novel a week ago, but had to unwillingly put it aside to catch up on my much-needed sleep until yesterday evening. If I knew what I knew now, I should have picked a better timing like a day when I don’t have to wake up early for another day’s duty, maybe? Because even if I could’ve put it down and continue on another day, I just wasn’t willing. Burning Sky, the debut novel of Lori Benton, starts by grabbing your undivided attention then has the ability to make you curiouser and curiouser as to what will happen to the characters. The story is very engaging. Really. Set in New York in 1784, it clearly describes the landscape after years of war, the people who survived the war and their determination to start over. The way Lori Benton told Burning Sky‘s story and incorporated these other factors make you rethink whether this is really just a debut novel. Lori Benton writes like a pro. I mean her prose is that of someone with years and years and years of experience in what makes a novel a great novel.
The other thing I liked about Burning Sky were the characters that make up the entire novel. For instance, the male protagonist, Neil MacGregor, a botanist. He is not the typical male hero. What I mean is he comes out like a genuine person during the days of the frontier – determined, willful but a bit scared as to the unknown. He does not put a false front of being strong when he knows he is not, but will let you know he will do everything in his power to protect the people he cares for. What he lacks in physical strength (because he was injured) he makes up with his strong mind and good sense of humor. He may not be the stuff of wishful dreams but he sure is someone any woman would want to be by her side in the long run.
Then there is Burning Sky herself. Born as Wilhelmina Obenchain, you’ll see that she is a sensible woman but with a vulnerability that will make the reader quite sympathetic to her plight. Her self-reliance can be attributed to her living for twelve years with the Indians, but her innate finesse stems out from her upbringing before that. I liked her because she is not the so-called damsel in distress. She faces her challenges head on. Although her being pragmatic almost cost her her happiness. Nevertheless, you can be sure that whatever decisions she makes she will stand firm on it.
The other characters I liked in the book are Joseph Tames-his-Horse, Burning Sky‘s clan brother; Anni Keppler, the childhood friend torn between loyalties; and Francis, Anni’s brother who despite his being a special child rises when called upon to see justice prevails. Without doubt, Lori Benton created characters the readers will like and love. Characters with both strengths and weaknesses combined that make them truly genuine.
Lastly, the pace of the story is just right. Not so fast and not so slow. I hope, dear readers, you’ll get a copy of this novel just to see whether I am right in my review. Hehe. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. It has all the elements that make up a great read – good story with likeable characters and enough doses of suspense, adventure, and romance. I highly recommend this novel, Burning Sky. And I can’t wait for Lori Benton’s next novel.
[Thank you for reading my very first book review after quite a number of years. I won the autographed copy of Burning Sky from a giveaway hosted by Mona Hodgson. This review is my personal opinion and I did not receive a request from the author or the author’s affiliations. ]