There are a few historical fiction authors that I really love and admire.
They are the sort of author who knows how to put you back into the time and place where
the characters are, whose very writing is steeped in the era they are describing.
Shall I name a few such writers whom I have had the pleasure of meeting lately?
Jocelyn Green, author of the Heroine's Behind the Lines Series.
have been written so far, gritty and glorious stories of the women
whose lives were torn during the Civil War.
Ann Gabhart, whose WWII novel Small Town Girl and the Great Depression years prequel, Angel Sister are stories that carry powerful themes in their sweet slowness.
Karen Barnett in her Prohibition-era novel Mistaken. Every time I thought I had her characters figured out, they turned around and showed me another corner of their hearts!
Jennifer Erin Valent, whose Calloway Summers Trilogy has stolen my heart, made me cry and smile and hug my family as I read. Fireflies in December, Cottonwood Whispers
and Catching Moondrops are the growing-up stories of Jessilyn and Gemma,
two girls who are encountering the beauties and tragedies of life.
And now I have met Lori Benton through her new book, Burning Sky.
And how glad I am that I was able to read this book.
Put simply, this is the best Frontier-era novel I have read in an age.
Where do I start when it comes to listing the reasons why you should read this book?
The characters, who are so real that they step out of the pages and into your life as you read.
Wilhelmina Obenchain. That was her name for fourteen years of life before she was taken captive
by the Mohawk Indians.
Then, she was called Burning Sky.
She is a very strong, original heroine.
I have a feeling that through Willa's story, Lori Benton has given a face and voice to many women like Willa who lived in those days, whose own stories went untold.
There are several male lead characters in this novel, all of them different, sharply depicted,
and very important to the tale...and to Willa's future.
Willa's Indian brother from the Wolf Clan she was adopted into.
There is a love and bond between them that cannot be broken by time or circumstance.
Joseph would fight for her or die for her, and he may be asked to do both.
The young man, now grown, who had thought that Willa would someday be his bride, all those years ago when she was just a girl.
Bitter and resentful after the war, Richard Waring is repulsed by Willa's life with the Indians, and is bent on taking her family's land from her.
Neil McGregor. Physician by trade and pioneering botanist by calling,
Willa finds Neil lying injured on the border of her land. Soon Neil, and his collie and his horse, have made themselves at home with Willa. More disturbing, he insists on being a kind friend to her, making her think of the two families she has already lost. A healer at heart with a spark of warrior in his soul, Neil would sacrifice anything to help Willa.
The setting, so richly described that you can breath in the cool morning air,
feel the solid walls and floor of the cabin that Willa's father built,
and hear the voices of the characters in your mind...especially Neil's voice, because
Lori's writing caught his accent so well that I "heard" every line he said in his thick Scottish brogue!
And the story itself.
In the ashes of life, with the smoke of her grief still drifting on the wind,
could God be sending Willa the very kind of blessings that she fears to reach out for again?
Could steady, sacrificial love, help her to trust that the future has not been destroyed,
and that the past can be mourned and remembered.
I loved this book.
Thank you Lori for sending me an influencer copy!
Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace.
When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband – often scouring the brush for huckleberries, which overflow the freezer and find their way into her signature huckleberry lemon pound cake.