Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier

Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier

by Lori Benton


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A Christy award-winning novel about a woman caught between two worlds, and the lengths she goes to find where she belongs
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.
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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307731470
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 470,908
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, Christy-nominee The Wood’s Edge, and A Flight of Arrows.

Read an Excerpt

New York Frontier, 1784

The woman who had been Burning Sky had kept off the warrior path that came down from the north through mountains, along the courses of rivers and creeks. Doing so meant traveling slow, over steep ground unfriendly to trudging feet, but she had not wanted to be seen by men on the path. Red men or white men.

She’d slept on the cold ground thirteen times before she saw the stone that marked the end of her journey—and the boundary of her papa’s land, the place she once called home. Time had not dimmed it in her memory. The stone, tall as a man and pointed as a blade, thrust from the crest of a ridge. But with her step quickened and her gaze fixed on it as she neared, she failed to notice the dog slithering out of the laurel thicket below the stone, until the muddy animal stood in her path and showed its teeth. The woman who had been Burning Sky halted, shaken less by the dog than by her own inattention. If Tames-His-Horse had been there, he would have scolded her for it.

He was not there, but another was.

The sun had slipped from behind clouds and sent a shaft of light lancing down the ridge into the laurels, full across the man lying in the thicket, showing her a booted foot, a length of knee breeches, a hand cradled on the breast of a brown coat. A white hand.

She caught her breath, while the blood thundered in her ears. When neither the man nor the dog moved, fear began to sift from her like chaff through a winnowing basket. The dog was only standing guard. But over the living or the dead?

It was tempting to assume the latter, but for this: the man lay on her papa’s side of the boundary stone. The significance of that settled on her, a heavier burden than the long-trail basket she’d carried on her back these many days. Maybe the man was dead and it would not matter what she did, but she could not turn her back and walk on as though she had not seen him.

There was still the problem of the dog in her way. It was one of those bred for bullying sheep, black and white, rough coated. The English word for it surfaced in her mind: collie.

The woman who had been Burning Sky slipped the tumpline from her forehead and the cord loops from her arms, lowering the basket to the ground. She gripped the musket slung at her side, even as she spoke kindly in the language of the People. “You are a good dog, guarding your man. Tohske’ wahi. It is so?”

The collie did not alter its rigid stance.

It occurred to her the dog might not know the speech of the Kanien’kehá:ka, called Mohawks by the whites. She tried English, which felt to her like speaking with pebbles in the mouth.

“You will let me near him, yes?” She took a step toward the laurels. The collie moved its matted tail side to side. “Good dog.”

She set her musket within reach and turned her attention to the man. He was too tangled in the laurels to have crawled in. Likely he’d fallen from the ridge above. Not a long drop, but steep. Closer now, she could see his face. Even for a white man, it was pale, the hollows of his closed eyes bruised, sickly. Hair almost black stuck to his brow in stiffened curls. While the dog nosed her heels, she wrenched away twigs, keeping one eye on the man’s still face. With the small hatchet from her sash, she hacked away larger branches, sending down a shower of leaves and insects, until she knelt beside the man. He had not stirred, but the warmth of his breath against her palm told her he lived. From the way he cradled his right arm across his chest, she knew it to be injured. His legs lay straight and seemed undamaged, save for scrapes where his leg coverings had torn in the fall. Not leg coverings, she thought. Stockings.

She did not know about his ribs, or what hurts might lurk beneath them. Moving him might cause further injury, but he could not remain as he was, unless she stayed and cared for him. She tipped back her head, lifting her eyes to the boundary stone, then to the sky at which it pointed. Why the man? Why now, so near her journey’s end?

Neither the stone nor its Maker gave answer. For whatever inscrutable reason, the Great Good God—the Almighty—had placed this man in her path, as He’d removed so many others from it.

It did not seem a fair exchange. But sitting there, wishing it was not so, would change nothing. This she well knew.

Returning to the basket, she found a length of sturdy basswood cord. With the hatchet, she cut cedar saplings to serve for poles and crosspieces, then retrieved the elk hide from her bedding. Through all this and the building of the travois, the dog milled about, whining. She met its fretful gaze but had no promises to make it. She would do what she could. Though she was strong for a woman, and tall, the man’s deadweight proved no easy burden. While she maneuvered him out of the laurels, she expected him to rouse. But not until she knelt to secure him to the travois,
sweating from the exertion, did she look up to find his eyes open. He had blue eyes—the drenching blue of trade beads—and they were fixed on her in glittering bewilderment and pain.

Responding to his pain, she touched his face to reassure him. His beard was coming in. The rasp of it against her palm stirred memories. Papa’s face had sometimes rasped with stubble, against the touch of her childish hand. Not black stubble—reddish brown like her own hair. Was it red still, or had the years made it white?

Then she thought she should stop touching the face of this man who was not Papa, whatever memories he stirred, but her fingers stayed pressed to the cold, bristly cheek.

While she hesitated, bewilderment fled the man’s blue-bead eyes, replaced by something like awe, then a look she had not seen in another face since the day she watched the longhouse burn. He was gazing at her with the trust of a child, innocent and complete.

“Oh, aye, that’s all right, then,” he said. The warmth of his breath brushed her face as he exhaled, closing his startling eyes.

The woman who had been Burning Sky sat back on her heels, stabbed beneath her ribs by a blade so sharp she wanted to beat her breasts to drive it out. Never again had she wanted to see that look of trust on the face of the sick, the dying. She’d fled far, thinking she could outdistance that sorrowful pairing. Had she not seen suffering enough to fill a lifetime?

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. The words settled in her mind like a hand on the shoulder, large and steadying. She drew a breath through lungs that fought with grief for space inside her, and looked at the man on the travois. A bruised reed. There would be many such scattered over the land, broken and uprooted by the war just past. She was not the only one.

Though she was no longer adept at judging the ages of white men, this one seemed young. Not as young as she, though she doubted he was past thirty winters. No white threaded his hair, and the lines at the corners of his eyes were faintly drawn. The quality of his woolen coat marked him a man of consequence. Not a farmer, she thought.

She could not begin to guess why he was there, fallen on the edge of what the whites called the Great Northern Wilderness, a sea of forest rolling away in mounting crests to Canada, where the redcoat soldiers of the defeated English king had retreated since the war to lick their wounds.

Was he someone Papa knew, here by his leave? If so, Papa would be glad she helped him.

She wanted Papa to be glad when he saw her again. If he saw her again.

Though the long winter had finally ended, the day was chill for the moon of budding leaves. She unrolled her rabbit-skin cloak and spread it over the man. She gathered the few belongings she found scattered around him and secured them on the travois. One of those was a small glass bottle, dark with the liquid it contained. She uncorked the glass, put it to her nose, and grimaced at the bittersweetness of opium dissolved in spirits. Was this the reason he’d fallen, or had he found it afterward and dosed himself to bear his injuries? It explained why he had remained unconscious, save for that brief moment.

Perhaps, even then, he had been in a dream’s grip and had not really seen her. Perhaps that look of trust had been for someone else. She greatly hoped so.

She corked the bottle and dropped it into her carrying basket. The snow thaw had passed on the lower slopes, leaving only the marshy places impassable with mud. There on the ridge, the ground was moist but not saturated. Gripping the travois poles, she hoisted her burden and picked herself a path through the wide-spaced trees, while the dog followed.

Though the going now was even slower, the land beneath her feet grew more familiar with each step. In her mind she rushed ahead, seeing it in memory—its fertile dips and rocky ridges, the broad noisy creek called Black Kettle, the lake with its tiny islet, the broad flats where Papa grew his corn and wheat. The clearing where the barn and cabin stood. So close now. Relief and dread warred in her belly.

She found the little stream where she remembered it to be, and the footpath that followed its winding course south, then east, then south again. She saw no tracks of men, but the deer had kept it clear. Though the travois passed with little hindrance, the man’s weight dragged at her shoulders, causing a burn across the muscles of her back and arms. The basket’s tumpline, tight across her brow, strained the bones of her neck. She turned her mind from the pain, continuing as she had done through each day of her journey. One foot, then the other. A step, and another. As she went, she spoke aloud a name, one she had not heard for many years, and so she said it with care, her enunciation precise.

“Wil-helm-ina O-ben-chain.”

The collie trotted up beside her, ears perked, already accustomed to her voice. The woman who had been Burning Sky nodded to the dog, whose name she did not know.

“Wilhelmina Obenchain,” she said, more assuredly this time. “But you may call me Willa.”


Author Q&A
by Lori Benton, author of Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier

What first sparked your interest to write Burning Sky? When I began researching the 18th century history of what would become the United States, almost at once I was drawn away from the populated seaboard settings to the sparsely settled periphery—the mountain and over-mountain frontier—where cultures inevitably collided, in friendship, trade, and war. What captured my imagination were those individuals who were drawn across those cultural barriers and not only survived the encounter, but thrived, in some cases learning to straddle that line between two worlds.

The Mohawk Valley of New York—before, during, and after the Revolutionary War—is a setting rife with such encounters, played out against the greater conflict of what amounted to a civil war. I couldn’t resist learning more about these men and women—European, African, and Native American—who survived profound losses, made wrenching choices, and saw their families and communities fractured by violence and upheaval, leaving them to redefine their identities as nations, neighbors, kin, and individuals.

I began writing Burning Sky in 2009, but because I let a story germinate for months before writing, I can’t recall exactly when the character of Willa Obenchain first came to me. What I do recall is that a vision of a solitary woman on a journey, somewhere on the New York frontier, intruded upon me as I was going about my day. She was tall and strong, and she bore a carrying basket on her back. And somewhere, I was fairly certain, a collie was lurking.

Who is your favorite character and why? Because I’ve attempted to live inside each main character’s skin, to understand them and their concerns, I’ve formed a deep attachment to all of them. But to give an answer I’ll choose Neil MacGregor, the wounded Scottish botanist Willa meets in the first chapter. Neil MacGregor is a survivor. He has suffered a debilitating injury that might easily have caused him to give up his life’s passion, his dreams. It’s an injury that renders everyday life more challenging. Yet he’s pressed on, found ways to compensate, and discovered he is capable of more than he’d ever have known had that injury not occurred. I find that inspiring, and I hope readers do as well.

Do you have any Native American heritage in your own family? Possibly, if ancient family history is to be trusted. In my case it traces back to the settling of Jamestown, and the Powhatan people of eastern Virginia, where I was born. But that’s very far back in my family history. I came to adulthood with no connections to Native American nations besides friendships. My husband’s Cherokee heritage is more recent, and more certain. He’s descended from a Cherokee family who didn’t go west in the 1830s along the Trail of Tears. They hid from government officials and remained in the east, and thus never ended up on the Dawes Rolls. My husband’s Cherokee ancestor eventually settled in Louisiana, where my mother-in-law was born. Now in her 80s, she remembers her half-Cherokee grandmother well.

What do you believe is Willa’s most relatable characteristic to readers? During the war years, prior to the opening of Burning Sky, the inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley who didn’t flee in the face of continual attacks lived within walled forts to survive. Devastated by personal losses, Willa Obenchain has internalized this defensive position, forting up her heart behind protective walls. But behind those walls she’s still a woman of fierce compassion. When push comes to shove she follows that compulsion, even if it entails putting herself in harm’s way. I admire that in Willa.

How do you hope Burning Sky will affect readers? I’m a storyteller first and foremost. As such I hope readers are entertained by Willa’s story and transported to her 18th century world to experience situations and challenges most of us (thankfully) don’t encounter in our daily lives, but that hold abiding interest nevertheless. Beyond that? I’ve heard it said that no two people who read the same book? read the same book. Each reader brings to the story a lifetime of experience (and opinions, wisdom, burdens, questions, preferences, and dislikes). It’s a wonderful, unpredictable chemistry that can happen between the reader and the story world. Sometimes the chemistry is strong and good. Sometimes it isn’t there at all. But if a reader should turn the last page of Burning Sky and find herself reminded that through trials and tears we have a heavenly source from which we can draw comfort, courage, and strength to help in time of need, I’d be thrilled.

Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier
by Lori Benton
on-sale August 6, 2013
tradepaper ISBN 9780307731470
eBook ISBN? 9780307731487

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Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BethErin More than 1 year ago
Lori Benton’s masterful storytelling breathes love, life, and emotion across the dusty pages of history. Over two centuries later, the spirit of the frontier continues to inspire and encourage us. Women like Willa vulnerably display the beauty of femininity with deep, heartbreaking love and graceful, empowering faith to this day. Benton is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite authors. I love the way the author unapologetically exposes the raw emotional experiences her characters endure while faithfully crafting word pictures worthy of the vivid and artistic splendor of God’s creation which they represent. I highly recommend this book and eagerly anticipate this author’s future works. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
NikeChillemi More than 1 year ago
BURNING SKY by Lori Benton is a captivating historical epic novel set in the post-Revolutionary War era. This debut novel won the Grace Awards 2013 in the Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category. The novel's historical accuracy is obvious, as well as the author's knowledge of the Native American tribes then living in New York State. The author's expressive prose paints a vibrant picture of life at that time. This novel would be a valuable addition to any homeschooling curriculum. Ms. Benton moves the characters from one element of the story to the next with great skill. The author did a superb job when Burning Sky, who had been captured as a young lass by northern New York State tribes, returns home to her family’s cabin and transitions back to thinking and speaking more and more in English as she tries to resume her former identity as Willa Obenchein. She is stunned to find her family's cabin empty, abandoned, and in disrepair. She's even more stunned to find some have called into question her parents loyalty to the colonial-cause during the war. She's a woman caught between two worlds. Though not surprised when some settlers treated her with open hostility, it instills fear in her and increases her wariness. She is the type of character the reader cares about from page one. Willa has experienced a number of losses throughout her life, most significantly, the death of the two children she bore to her deceased Native American husband. She is determined to guard her heart and keep it closed to avoid getting hurt again. However, hard she tries to shut herself off from emotional entanglements, she finds life will have its way. The characters, even the secondary and minor ones, feel believable and authentic to the period. Many of whom bear deep and painful scars due to the brutal battles on the frontier, with both the British and Americans having committed atrocities. This is a multi-faceted novel presenting a story of bitterness, suspicion, and determination that turns into one of love, forgiveness, and restoration. Neil MacGregor and Joseph Tames His Horse, two very different men, with dissimilar strengths, both devout Christians, vie for the love of Willa/Burning Sky. The portrayal of Neil's strength through his deep faith was done superbly, without even the slightest hint of preaching, and was organic to the story. The author does a marvelous job keeping the reader guessing how this love-triangle will turn out. The villains are not stereotypes, but rather are well fleshed out. One of them skillfully and horrifically manipulates events. While his younger brother, who has developmental challenges, is a touching character crafted with depth. I highly recommend this book to readers from age fourteen to one-hundred and fourteen.
WildflowerMom More than 1 year ago
What an amazing story, so powerfully told, weaving in the threads of history from the frontier of New York set in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. The characters felt so real, drawing you into their struggles, joys and heartaches, and rejoicing in their triumphs. I didn't want it to end. This is one book not to be missed!
KPow1 More than 1 year ago
This book has it all: Rich historical detail, beautiful settings, lyrical writing, realistic and detailed characters, mystery, and a captivating plot. I liked the historical details that LB blended into the story. She made the story informative and entertaining. The story had me thinking a lot about what was right and wrong in the way the European Americans, the British, and the Native Americans interacted with each other. I think it is described best by this quote from the story: "after the war we've come through, we are none of us innocent." The setting is beautiful and LB describes it so well. I was experiencing the story along with the characters. The characters really swept me away also. I really like how LB makes even the villain someone to sympathize with. He is not a generic villain with no personality, he is a wounded man with a disturbed mind. I also like how LB makes me like both of the men who are competing for Willa's love. Both are honorable, god-fearing men and I wasn't sure which one I liked best at first.
ACS_Book_Blogger More than 1 year ago
Willa Obenchian was abducted by the Mohawk Indians at age fourteen. Her only choice was to become part of their clan and accept her new life. She meets a young Indian named Tames-His-Horse who is a Christian. Through his friendship her faith in God is rekindled. She was given the name Burning Sky and was married to one of the Indians in the clan. Willa became a part of the clan and was willing to stay there the rest of her life. Willa and her husband have two girls and her life feels complete. The Revolutionary War starts and her husband and other men from the clan go to fight. Willa's husband ends up being killed. Not long after this an outbreak of the small pox hits her clan. The ones in the clan that were healthy decided it was best to leave and go to a new settlement. Willa's two girls got the small pox so they stayed back. After a few weeks her girls did not get better. They both died. Instead of going to find the Indian clan she went back to her parents house in Shiloh. On her way there she comes across a man who is injured. She decides to help him to her cabin and there she takes care of his injuries. She finds out his is a Scotsman, named Neil MacGregor. When she returns to her parents house it is empty. One of her child hood friends,Anni and her brother Richard, stop by her house one day and inform her that once the war with the British began her parents were accused of being Tories. Richard is full of hatred for any one that would side with the British. He is also upset with the way that Willa had changed to become part of her Indian clan. Richard then decides that she doesn't deserve her parents land and goes out of his way to get the deed to the land. Willa is not willing to give up her parents land. This makes Richard mad. He tries to burn her land down twice and the second time he burns her cabin. Through the help of Neil MacGregor and a distant relative of Willa's she is able to keep her land. (Reviewed by S.Wall) DISCLOSURE: A copy of Burning Sky was provided by the Blogging for Books review program for Waterbrook Press on behalf of the author for the sole purpose of an honest review. No compensation was received for this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.
Shay14 More than 1 year ago
The characters in this book are awesome! Willa Obenchain (aka Burning Sky) is a complex character because of the life she had to live. Taken at a young age by Mohawk Indians, she did what she had to in order to survive. She adapted to their way of life, never forgetting her heritage. So when all was lost to her, she decides to go back to the "white world" only to discover everyone she loved is gone. "I am the place where two rivers meet, sitled with upheaval and loss." - Willa Obenchain Neil MacGregor, despite his past, does not treat Willa like she's less than human (as some folks do because of her time with the Indians). Instead, he shows her kindness, compassion, and love. Is she willing to open her heart to him? The story was good. I think I would have enjoyed it so much better had I not just finished a very similar book. It was also a little long, but not enough to lose my interest completely. At one point, I caught myself saying "how much more can this poor woman go through?!" I believe even the slow parts were necessary in order to understand each character and the situation at hand. The author did a great job in describing the time period, effects of the war, and the characters actions as related to their situations. The message was one of trust. As Neil MacGregor, in his Scottish barogue states: "Dinna put your trust in men - not foremost. Men will come and go from your life, even those you love, some before you're ready to see them go. But I'll tell you this I've learnt: the Almighty loves you more than any man could, and He willna forsake ye. Not ever." Overall, this was a very enjoyable book. I wish I would have read it at a later date, rather than right after another book with a similar plot. I would still recommend it to anyone! **I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.**
Apassion4pages More than 1 year ago
I haven't LOVED a debut novel as much as Burning Sky in a long time. Burning Sky isn't your normal kind of book. I think I knew this before even reading it, simply from what I'd heard about it... and likely the strange undeniable draw I had to a book named simply after its heroine. I'm not sure what to say. I spent two days straight reading this book. I stayed up until 2am on a Saturday night to finish it--despite the fact that I'd been more tired lately than I'd ever been (due to being at the near end of my first trimester), and that I had to get up early for church the following morning. This tired momma didn't care. I just needed to keep reading. Burning Sky also included one of the best written Reader's Guides I've ever come across. Maybe it had to do with the deep places the author's characters had taken my heart along the way, but whatever the reason, it was perfect. Read it as well. You will not be disappointed. Every word, every character and every emotion were just as I would have chosen myself... they were so true, so perfectly situated... Now I just feel like I'm babbling on and on... but really, days later, my heart is still so full of Burning Sky/Wilhelmina Oberchain, Joseph Tame-His-Horse and Neil MacGregor and the way their paths were entangled and intertwined to bring about God's best for their lives. Like I said, I suspect that this book is going to be hard to top for a long, long while.
Savurbks More than 1 year ago
Captured by Mohawk Indians at the age of fourteen, Willa Obenchain (aka Burning Sky) must learn to adapt to her new way of life to survive with the People. Upon finally returning home several years later, Willa finds many things have changed in her absence including her parents, the family homestead, her dear friends, her own heart, faith in God, and feelings towards “savages” affected by war. Toss into the mix a botanist, a Mohawk brother, Cap the collie, and several other characters and the story only gets more complex and interesting. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS: Wow. As a debut novel, this story was very well done. The imagery of the frontier portrayed was definite and precise (the author was originally an artist), the amount of history knowledge included was impressive, and the story line just kept the pages turning, culminating in an intense finish. I was drawn to this book by the cover, then the back-cover description, and now laud it for the content. Though not an easy and quick read, this novel is definitely worth the time to discover and absorb the entire book. I sincerely hope the author, Lori Benton, is working on another novel already as I will be watching and waiting for it. RATING: 5 (out of 5) pennies *I received a complimentary copy of Burning Sky from WaterBrook Press for my honest review*
BrittanyMc More than 1 year ago
What a novel to debut with! Burning Sky is a deep, powerful journey back in time to the tumultuous years after the American Revolution. Burning Sky is the Mowhawk name that was given to Willa Obenchain, who was stolen from her family twelve years before the start of this book. Willa built a life with the Mowhawks, but when she loses everything and decides to travel back to her original home, will she be able to make a life again amongst people who feel they have been terrorized by the very people she learned to call family? Willa takes in a man named Neil MacGregor when she finds him injured on the border of her family's land. Neil is originally from Scotland and is a botanist sent to document the flora and fauna of the west. Willa is a strong, yet traumatized woman. Neil unleashes feelings in her that she is not ready to face. Will she ever be able to let her guard down? Neil has his own struggles to overcome. Will he be able to determine what God really wants for his life? This novel is full of beautiful imagery and offers the reader a window into another time. The distrust that Willa, the two children in her care, and Willa's adoptive Mowhawk brother face is intense. I really enjoyed the author's writing style. I felt totally immersed in the time period and very invested in the lives of the characters. I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
booksandwindows More than 1 year ago
.“She was adrift between two lives, unable to grieve. Unable to hope.” (62) The beauty and richness of this story will grab a hold of you and not let go until far beyond the last page. Willa has endured so much pain and loss in her life. At the age of 14, she was taken from her family by Mohawk Indians. After adjusting, Willa lived a full life with her new family. Twelve years later, her family has been ripped from her again, and Willa finds herself at a crossroads: where does she belong? She has had two families. Torn from both, belonging to neither, and caught between both, Willa must find a way to continue on alone. The pain she has suffered has made her stronger, but her past has taught her to be cautious with her heart and not risk it again. She has closed her heart off to protect herself from any further pain in her life. This book is her journey of not only finding where she belongs, but also of learning to open her heart to love, despite the risk. The book opens when Willa returns to the land of her parents. As Willa’s story is slowly revealed, the reader learns about the things she has endured. On the journey she takes in this book, there are three central characters in Willa’s life that, in a way, represent the three phases of her life. -First, there is Richard Waring, who she knew in her childhood. Before she was taken, Richard had intentions to marry Willa. Now, he is a hardened man, bitter and angry from war and the things he has seen. -The next man in her life, Joseph Tames-His-Horse, has been a close friend to Willa since she was adopted into the Mohawk tribe. He is a strong, loyal man who wants to protect and provide for her. They have unspoken feelings for each other, however, because they are in the same clan, he is considered her brother. -Third is Neil MacGregor, whom Willa finds on the side of the road, injured and unconscious.  Willa takes care of him as she tries to readjust to the life she left long ago. Neil is a botanist and a doctor who is passionate about discovering new plants, but an accident has impaired his ability to read and write. Whereas the other two men know her from one of her previous “lives”, Neil knows Willa as she is now, fragmented and broken from her past. This novel is a lengthy read, however, it is well worth your time. The plot is both intricate and well thought-out, which makes for a captivating and satisfying read. Toward the end of the book, many loose ends remain, but I was pleasantly surprised to read how everything unfolded, and it came together quite nicely. All the questions that you will have while reading the book will be answered by the end, and I found myself happy with the ending. (I have to say, Willa does not choose the man I wanted her to choose, however, I think the ending was very fitting for the story.) *I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through the Blogging for Books program for my honest review.*
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Burning Sky was Willa Obenchain’s Mohawk name when she was adopted into a new family, replacing a daughter lost to war. Lori Benton’s novel, Burning Sky, set entirely in the white world Willa returns to-- the New York Frontier in the 1780s-- sings with echoes of Willa’s life as Burning Sky, offering a wealth of different viewpoints on the wars and traditions of the time. Willa’s parents have gone missing and are accused of having supported Britain in the war. Willa’s friends are fiercely American. Willa’s brother is Mohawk. And the wounded young man that she cares for is purely and convincingly Scots. Left lonely by fate, Willa longs now to be left alone by all. But strangers keep coming to her door, to help or hinder her. The past, neither her life before abduction, nor her life as Burning Sky, refuses to lie down, and everyone else seems determined to decide her future for her. Once, a young man quoted the Bible to Willa and gave her comfort. Now she bends to comfort everyone else while her own life falls apart. Meanwhile another young man quotes the Bible to a child and struggles to understand what God wants of him. What God wants for us all is good, though the path may twist and turn. And Burning Sky is a thoroughly enjoyable novel, balancing faith with action, romance with drama, Bible quotes with beautifully rendered Mohawk dialog, and history with honesty. I really enjoyed it. Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Ashley_22 More than 1 year ago
Willa Obenchain was taken by the Mohawk indians when she was a child. She lived with them for over a decade but after losing her children & husband decided to return to the land her birth parents owned. On her way there she finds Neil Macgregor, who is badly injured, and takes him with her to the cabin on here parents land. She returns to find her parents are gone and the land is up for auction. Through Willa's journey she fights strong feelings for Neil and fights to have the land her parents owned back.. This book is amazing. It's hard to put down. I would recommend it to anyone who loves book about the Indians.. *I recieved this book free from Waterbrook for my review.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful treat awaits the reader of Burning Sky by Lori Benton. Her magnificent way with words provides a feast for both mind and heart. Fascinating characters face daunting social problems in their swatch of history. As they struggle for solutions, the reader gets a peek of answers as pertinent to today’s issues as they were in the past. A rewarding read awaits.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly beautiful story, Burning Sky will sweep you away to the 18th century New York frontier, touch your heart, and befriend you with characters who stay with you long after you read the final page…at least it did for me. I volunteered to receive an ARC and share with others about the story, but I would have wanted to purchase this book regardless, between the beautifully written sneak peek I saw online and the Native American thread which runs so close to my heart. Lori Benton is a truly gifted writer, and we will be hearing more of her. I greatly look forward to her future novels!The story follows the struggles, heartaches, and triumphs of three wonderfully developed characters—Willa Obenchain, taken hostage by the Mohawk as a young girl and adopted into one of their clans, and just now returned to her birth family’s land; Joseph Tames-His-Horse, her Mohawk clan brother with a heart for God, his people, and the helpless; and Dr. Neil MacGregor, the Scottish botanist wounded in body, yet with such a tender heart toward God and others, including those different from himself. I loved how the characters’ faith journeys came so natural and real; I’ve never known a verse Scripture to be woven through a story so deeply and seamlessly as Isaiah 42:3 in this one. It’s one of the bits that stayed with me the most after reading this book.Highly recommended for lovers of accurate historical fiction and thoughtful story with depth and heart.
CarrieP More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC.  I cannot imagine what they could have changed from the ARC that would have improved the book. Nor am I under compulsion to give this book a positive review—but I'd dare them to stop me from doing so as I loved this story! This book will or should win awards next year. Wilhemina “Willa” Obenchain was a 14-year-old girl living in a community in upstate NewYork when she was kidnapped and taken in by the Mohawks. She married and had two children but her family is now gone and she has walked all the way back to her family home only to find no one there—that is except a wounded man, and his dog. What a beautiful tale that meanders at a perfect pace. The repercussions of war are felt by all. Willa’s Mohawk “brother” who has more than sibling affection for her still hunts deserters for the British and there is one hiding in Willa’s community.  Willa’s old sweetheart, Richard, who pursued the kidnapped girl for months, his hopes destroyed. Now an embittered man whose soul has been lost in his anger and bitterness at the loss of innocent Willa, the girl he loved, and now comes face-to-face with Willa the survivor, widow of a Mohawk and mother of two deceased metis children. Lori Benton also incorporated a special sweet character, a young man who may be autistic. God brings Willa full circle.  While she has lost everything she regains much. Excellent pacing and a book you’ll have a hard time putting down. And a very satisfying ending, which I love! While this lovely book has a strong literary feel to it, Lori Benton doesn’t pull any literary “gimmicks” that I’ve seen in other books that have off-put me from finishing the story.  Rather, she seamlessly weaves a literary book with a broad appeal to historical and romance readers in both inspirational and I believe in the secular market as well. Bravo, Lori!
RebeccaDeMarino More than 1 year ago
Burning Sky is the story of a young woman, kidnapped as a child by the Mohawk clan in 18th century New York. In the aftermath of the American Revolution, torn between two cultures, she journeys back to a home dim in her memory. Ms. Benton's blend of faith and humanity, love and passion creates characters of such depth that they leave the page and live in your soul. She captures the rich historical detail of the beginnings of our nation with a tale that captivates and intrigues the reader. Be prepared for characters that will claim your heart, romance that will warm it and a story you cannot put down. Cheers to this new author who entertains, enlightens, and inspires! Lori Benton has an uncommon capacity to bring the characters from the page directly into your soul and leave you with a story so satisfying you will not want the story to end. I look forward to more novels from this unforgettable new author!