Book Review: Burning Sky by Lori Benton

BSCover_FINALfrontvsmTitle:  Burning Sky

Author: Lori Benton

Series?  No

Cliffhanger?  No

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Author’s blog:

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars


About the book:
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?


My Review:
I feel that 3 stars might be a bit harsh for this book. I did enjoy it. Mostly. And I feel that the book is well written. And it started out really promising. But it lulled in the middle and I found myself quickly losing interest. It seems like a book that is suppose to be really good. It just did not click with me.

I love reading books about native americans and the settlers on the frontier. I was so looking forward to this one! The beginning was beautiful. The characters were well developed and vividly drawn. It was quite easy to place myself into the story.

But around the middle the book started feeling long. At first I kept reading hoping it would pick up again, then I started skimming.

I already knew what would happen between Neil, Willa, Joseph, and the children. I mean, it was pretty obvious! There did not seem to be much happening at all. Just the endless waiting. Waiting for a letter from Albany. Waiting for Willa to open up to Neil. Waiting for autumn and the auction.

I feel really mixed feeling for Joseph. I really liked his character! And even though he has a beautifully heartbreaking ending, I can’t help but feel like he got the short end of the stick. He lost nearly everything he had.  And what about his dreams? I kept waiting for something of that to come back up! I suppose I am to just accept that he was there for Willa when she needed him most, but there could have been more.

I wonder if I would have liked the book better if it was written in first person. Willa is the main character, but there were times where it was hard to connect with her. I found myself connecting better with Neil than Willa. I would have loved to ‘get inside’ Willa’s head. I know we saw some of her thoughts, but it was not written the way a book in first person would be written. I feel I could have connected with Willa better if I could see her better.

In the end I liked the book. It was beautiful and sad, but nothing startling or stunningly amazing. Just a good solid read.


My Not Book Review

This is not really a book review, but rather my gushings about the book I just read.

Monday evening, I bawled through the last pages of Between Shades of Gray.  This is  not to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey.  The latter book I have never read, and never will.  Between Shades of Gray was published first, and, in my opinion, should be more popular.  After reading this book, I found on the author’s facebook page that it is being turned into a movie.  The movie will be titled Ashes in the Snow.  Most likely the title was changed to avoid confusion.  A movie cannot possibly do this book justice, but I’m excited anyway.  And hey!  Movies are basically two hour trailers for the book, right?


Ruta Sepetys was inspired to write Between Shades of Gray when she was researching her Lithuanian heritage.  During World War II, the Soviets had deported people from Lithuania to work camps in Siberia.


It is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time, but also one of the most hopeful.  I think that was something that made this book stand out.  Lina, the main character, could find hope even in the darkest circumstances.


I am not one to write in my books, or mark quotes.  Perhaps this is because I borrow so many of my books from the library.  And Between Shades of Gray is a library book.  I wish it wasn’t.  I wish it was mine and I could write in it!  Instead I resorted to post-it notes.

07606abf82818b1ca57b2d689b790dabThe writing style is just beautiful.  I wish I could write like that!  I was trying to pay attention to why I loved the writing so much.  Maybe I could learn from it.  Ruta Sepetys writes very lyrical.  While I find that I don’t care for books in verse, I do like lyrical writing styles.  Sometimes I try to write like this, but it ends up being too overbearingly descriptive.

Ruta Sepetys had balanced writing.  Not too lyrical, not too simple. Just a perfect blend of both.  I was struck by this on page 124 with the quote, “Blisters wept on my hands.  Our fingers were caked with dirt.”  The first sentence personifies the blisters on her hands.  Lyrical.  The second sentence simply states the condition of the dirt on her hands.  Now, if I were writing, I would have tried to make the second sentence lyrical as well.  But that is not really necessary.  The story needs a balance of both to keep the writing from being too lyrical or too simplistic.  Perhaps this is not the best example in the book, but this is when I realized it.


The story told here is not an easy one to read.  There were times, especially when I was reading before bed, that I wanted to read something else, and not focus on the hardships these people had to endure.  But it is also a hopeful story.  It is a story about standing together and supporting each other.  Strangers came together to help one another survive the Siberian winter.  I think that is just beautiful.



Because of the subject matter, I’d only recommend this book to older or mature readers.  The harsh conditions the characters are forced to live in are not easy to stomach.  Other content includes b st rd used less than 5 times.  Brief mention of prostitution and brief mention of alcohol consumption and drunkenness.