Today I am delighted to be reviewing Glass Rhapsody by Sarah Chorn, which comes out next week. I have loved this series from the beginning, and this book was one of my most anticipated books for this year and it didn’t disappoint and is a wonderful, beautiful ending to this series.
Disclaimer – I received an e-arc in exchange for an honest review, and I was also a beta reader for this book. All thoughts and emotions are my own.
Five years ago, the Boundary fell. Now the Union is coming to claim Shine Territory as its own.
But not everyone wants to live under their heel.
In a hidden town run by women with rough pasts, life remains untouched until greed paves the way for conflict. Faced with few choices, Grace Hart must stop the Union to protect the women under her care.
Elroy McGlover has spent the past five years running from what he’d done in Matthew Esco’s name. Haunted by ghosts from his past, he returns to where it all went wrong. Enlisted to help Arlen Hobson fight against Union control, Elroy soon finds himself in the middle of a war for the heart of Shine Territory.
In the fight for the soul of the West, no one is innocent.
At this point, I think I should just acknowledge the fact that I am never going to manage a completely coherent review about anything Sarah Chorn writes, and you know what, I am absolutely fine with that (especially with the books that I know are coming).
But, firstly….clears throat.
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I LOVE THIS SERIES!
While this remains very much character (and heartbreaking emotions) driven, Glass Rhapsody continues to build on the world and to nurture the seeds of change sown at the end of Of Honey and Wildfires and in Oh, That Shotgun Sky. Shine Territory is in flux, and here there were so many of the aspects of the Wild West that I love having grown up watching far too many Westerns (I had one channel that worked, so it was Stargate and then a western every Sunday) – with attacks on the frontier, the attempt to expand the railway regardless of what was in its path and oh so many little details, that built on this world that I already loved and gave an underlying feeling that history was being made between these pages.
One of the things that I love about Sarah’s writing in general, and about this series overall has always been the emotion, and how it’s written in such a way that you’re not just reading it, but feeling it deep in your soul. That was very much present in this book. Glass Rhapsody brings together the storylines and characters from both the previous books, and there is a world of grief and hurt, and every other emotion you can name at the intersection of those paths. But that is also where this book hits differently. There’s still plenty of breaking in this book, some truly heartbreaking moments and conversations, that are devasting because they feel so real, so human, that they come alive.
But, where Glass Rhapsody is different is that after the shattering there is a mending. There is healing. It’s not quick. There’s no miracle. It’s more like seeds taking root in fire-scorched earth, and slowly coaxing life back into the devastation, making that same devastation part of it. The broken pieces don’t disappear, the scars are still there, and not everyone can heal in the same way or to the same extent, sometimes the mending is finding a way to breathe in the now even with what the future might hold. This is a story of love and family, loss and healing, and acceptance. There is one moment in particular between Arlen and Cassandra that was particularly poignant and is something that I would love to see more of in books.
The characters have always been the heart of these stories, and in Glass Rhapsody we got to see them all come together, past and present, living and dead. The role of ghosts and burnout in this book was a surprise, but it added so much, and some of those chapters are my favourites. It’s an interesting look at grief from both sides of the divide, and it added so much to the story – plus gave me more time with some of my favourite characters. Arlen and Cassandra are the shining diamonds here, broken in different ways, side by side and yet divided, and it was fantastic to see how their relationship had grown, how it was changing and I think at this point it would be impossible for me to choose a favourite between them. However, no matter how bright they shone, the rest of the cast continued to hold on to my heart, it was great to see more of Saul and Ned who had been my favourites from the novella. Elroy and Pearl both added interesting viewpoints and dimensions to the story, and in many ways, the impact of Elroy’s return felt a little like a boulder dropped into a still lake, sending ripples in all directions, as its impact on so many things through his interactions with Cassandra and Arlen and his burnout, and there are so many raw moments where he is involved. I also loved Lori – she was a perfect counterpart to Arlen.
I also have to talk about Grace who we met in Oh, That Shotgun Sky but who really comes into her own in Glass Rhapsody. She had seen the worst of the world, experienced it, and from a young age – and yet she has not just survived, she is living in the world and fighting for it, even beneath the weight of her experiences and there was not a moment where I wasn’t invested in her story and in the journey to protect Fletcher and the other women living there. Then there is her son. Quite often there are discussions about mothers in fantasy – or should that be the lack of mothers? One of the most beautiful relationships in Glass Rhapsody is that between Grace and her son Teddy. There are so many potent relationships in this series, ones shaped by grief and death, and second chances, and everything in between and each is beautiful in their own way. However, there was something about Grace and Teddy that shone even brighter. Perhaps, it was the sheer simplicity of that love – not that their lives were easy, or uncomplicated and I have to say I love how Teddy was written, and his way of communicating – but because it was such unquestioning love.
‘This is love. It drives me to my knees. I finally understand the divine.’
I honestly loved every moment spent in this world and with these characters, and there’s a bittersweet feeling at the Songs of Sefate coming to an end. I don’t want to say farewell to these characters, and yet at the same time the ending of Glass Rhapsody was so satisfying, especially with the themes of healing and mending and moving forward, and in particular, Cassandra’s ending was everything I could have wished for. However, there are more stories to come from this world, and I’m looking forward to learning more about Union City (and already bracing my poor, aching heart).
I can’t recommend this book and series highly enough, and Glass Rhapsody is out in less than two weeks (30th June) and is currently available for pre-order, and you’ve still got time to read the rest of the Songs of Sefate before then! I’ve got my copy ordered and waiting (im)patiently to grab a physical copy too, as I want to see those stunning covers next to one another.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.