Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.
When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.
Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage–the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?
Evocative. Haunting. Breathtaking. Burning Sky is all that and much more.
Lori Benton’s debut novel is a treasure that unfurls page by page, revealing the searing depths of a young woman’s pain as she wrestles grief, scorn, fear, and a burning desire to belong. Lori’s prose is beautifully measured, her dialogue meaningful, and she demonstrates an innate talent for communicating the nuances of human emotion straight into the reader’s heart. Willa is an intriguing and deftly layered character yet it is Neil MacGregor and Tames-His-Horse, two very different men in talent, ability, and drive, that fascinate me. Both are deeply courageous, heroic men, who wear honour as naturally as their clothing, yet are refreshingly authentic, battling vulnerabilities and opposing dreams. The love story Lori weaves into this poignant and historically accurate novel breaks your heart yet restores it by book’s end. Lori immerses her readers in the era, a time where fear was never far away, and scars, both physical and emotional, marked each member of the community. Through minor characters Lori gives expression to prejudice, revenge, greed, and hate that the Revolutionary War left in its wake, along with characters whose steadfast faith grew compassion and forgiveness. If you enjoy your historical novels rich and raw in emotion and gripping in a way that won’t let go, don’t miss this one. As impressive a debut novel as Julie Cantrell’s Into the Free, Burning Sky is simply captivating in every way and Lori, one of the finest historical fiction writers I’ve had the pleasure to read. Her second book can’t come quickly enough for me.
With thanks to Waterbrook Press for my review copy