Book Review: Burning Sky

Burning SkyBurning Sky by Lori Benton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Authentic in both historical details and deeply rooted characters set in late 1700s New York, author Lori Benton delivers a visual and emotional journey for readers.

After several years of living in captivity with the Mohawk people, the woman who was called Burning Sky returns to her homestead and white heritage near the settlement of Shiloh, New York. Divided and confused about where her loyalties stand, Willa Obenchain intends to live a solitary life to protect her heart from further pain. But it seems God will not allow her to remain captive to the past. Obstacles collide with her plans including old friends becoming foes, a stranger in need of her care, and her clan brother’s need for her to continue to be a part of his life.

The cover of this book called to me from my “to-read” bookshelf for weeks after I purchased it. I confess, I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. I knew it would be different from other books I’ve read about frontier life. And it wasn’t even close to the themes in the historical novels I usually read. Because my own knowledge of the setting and time-period was minimal, I feared I would not understand the context and lose sight of the story itself. But, I finally took the challenge and made it happen. My only regret is that I spread out reading it over a four-month span and I think in the process, I felt lost at times.

With my confession and ignorance on the table, I finished Burning Sky with a sense of awe. Author Lori Benton delivered an incredible story that stayed with me in between readings (which were often only a chapter or two per night). Her delicate use of descriptions and choice of words reveal the context of the time period and although they required me to do a little of my own research to obtain full understanding, I appreciated her successful attempt to put me there, alongside each character in thought, heart, and deed. The reader guide gave me the additional help I needed to obtain context, and I was pleased at how easily I adjusted to Lori’s writing style–which at times read more as poetry than storytelling.

I suffered along with Willa as she fought her instincts to survive and avoid pain in order to do what she knew was right.

I hurt for Neil MacGregor as he sacrificed his own dream repeatedly in exchange for listening to his heart and God’s voice.

I empathized with Tames-His-Horse as he put honor and his faith in God above his heart’s greatest desire.

One of my favorite details (and characters) was Neil MacGregor. There are so many things about him that were unexpected and not even close to the typical frontier-style hero. From his interesting profession as a botanist, to his irresistible Scottish accent–which was well worth a peek to the back of the book for the translation–he was a perfect gentlemen and symbol of humility and sacrifice.

I’d share more, but I would risk spoilers. If you are looking for a genuine journey into historical New York where captivating characters and lyrical descriptions will draw you in and challenge you to experience their world in setting, language, and deed, Burning Sky is sure to meet your need.


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