Today I am over the moon to be bringing you a review of ‘Oh, That Shotgun Sky’ by Sarah Chorn, a novella in her Song of Sefate series which began last year with ‘Of Honey and Wildfires’ (which I reviewed HERE). Oh, That Shotgun sky is a bridging novella set in the immediate aftermath of the events at the end Of Honey and Wildfires, and laying some groundwork for Glass Rhapsody which is due out later this year. Glass Rhapsody (Songs of Sefate #2) was already on my list of most anticipated sequels for 2021 and this novella was an unexpected, and most welcome surprise.
Ever since I read Seraphina’s Lament, Sarah Chorn’s debut, she has has rocketed straight to the top of my favourite and must-buy authors, and Of Honey and Wildfires cemented that when it came out. So my year was made when I learned there was going to be more books this year, and I leapt at the chance to read an arc of Oh, That Shotgun Sky (in fact I was about ready to sell my soul for the chance), and this novella is certainly a favourite for 2021.
You can find the cover reveal, and read the first chapter for yourself over at Fantasy Book Critic. And for more news about Songs of Sefate, and Sarah’s writing in general check out her latest post across at Bookworm Blues. (My most anticipated list might have changed just a little…)
Oh, That Shotgun Sky also features beautiful character sketches by Sen Qin, and it was lovely to the characters being brought to life, and I hope that you will take the time the time to check out the artist’s work (HERE).
Disclaimer – I received an e-arc in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and heartbreak are my own.’
Days after the Boundary falls, six strangers converge in a one-horse town, all of them on the run. Some from the past, some avoiding the future.
When men from Shine Company arrive to reclaim their own, these desperate travelers have to decide if they stand with the law, or against it.
Men pull the trigger and blood spills.
Fate pulls the strings and everybody dances.
I’ve attempted to start this review a dozen different ways, hoping to be somewhat coherent in my review. But you know what? I want to gush. I want to stand on the mountain top and scream about this book.
I FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK!!
And I mean that in the sense, that at the time of writing this review I’ve now read this novella seven times and it still hurts as beautifully as it did the first time, and I keep finding new parts that both cut and fill my heart at the same time.
I went into Oh, That Shotgun Sky with high expectations but also with the bias that I absolutely adore how Sarah Chorn writes, and yet I was still caught off guard with how much I loved this novella. As with its predecessor Of Honey and Wildfires, this is not a book that you read from a distance, it’s one that you experience in all it’s stunning, gut-wrenching glory.
I’ve said it before and doubtless, I will say it again, but I don’t think I will ever tire of how Sarah writes. It’s lyrical, and Sarah’s visceral descriptions of not just the atmosphere and setting, but more importantly the emotions – the tensions and desperation, the heartbreak and sorrow, and the kind of love that burns and blesses in all its forms – makes for such a vivid experience that it puts her writing on a whole other level. And with Oh, That Shotgun Sky that has been honed to perfection. Sarah has a way of describing feelings in such a way that it’s like having an epiphany about your own heart as you read, and you can’t help but feel that even the deepest parts of you are being seen.
As this is a bridging novella, you do need to have read Of Honey and Wildfires. With Oh, That Shotgun Sky taking the fascinating world that Chorn had built in that book, the seamless weaving together of a secondary world with the Wild West and building on and expanding from that foundation. It was fantastic to see more and more elements of this world – no matter how bleak – some were just fleeting, teasing glimpses that left me wanting more, and others, offering a different side or viewpoint on something we’ve already experienced, but every one of them added another thread to an already rich world. This isn’t an easy world to live in, and it’s a complex, interwoven world so that you can’t help but feel for characters on all sides of the divide. Especially, because at its core, it’s a story about trying to survive and to some extent that levels any playing field. And from indentured whores to outlaws, and those just trying to survive at the edge of the world, it is the people – and their struggle to do more than survive, that make this world and bring the story to life.
I can’t talk about Oh, That Shotgun Sky without talking about the characters, and the fact that within the space of a novella, Sarah has created a cast of characters that have taken up occupation in my heart. Because of the way they’re written, the emotions we feel right alongside each and every one of them, it’s impossible not to be embraced by their stories, to emphasize with them regardless of what path they’ve taken through life.
Saul was possibly my favourite in this one, his grief was so tangible, so visceral that everything hurt during his chapters, and yet his strength, his ability to keep moving forward was like sunlight on the horizon, and you can’t help but root for him. Ned’s story was the most surprising as it unfolded, and perhaps the most challenging, and yet his search for himself was so real and relatable regardless of who you are, that his story is enrapturing. While the relationship between Sally and Eloise was poignant and pure, built on stolen moments and dreams, and yet no less deep or real for that, and I was holding my breath for so much of their story, willing them to have the time together that they’d been denied.
Oh, That Shotgun Sky is a devastatingly beautiful exploration of love and life and survival, and it has left me with the kind of book hangover that will linger for quite a while (and has sent me off on a reread of the rest of Sarah’s books). It has shot straight to the top of my favourites list and has set the bar high for 2021. While the sneak peek of Glass Rhapsody at the end has my heart already bracing myself for the next installment in this series. I can’t recommend this series highly enough, or even find quite the right words to explain just how much I loved this book, all I can say is hit preorder and snag yourself a copy of Of Honey and Wildfires while you’re there.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.