Do you ever read a book, series, or author because you intentionally want to be wrecked? That seems weird right? Like it’s one thing for a book to wreck you and to enjoy how good it was, and it’s another to seek it out because you want it. I feel like that with Sarah Chorn’s books. I know what to expect now and eagerly look forward to what they will do to me. I think that’s because Chorn writes about pain and emotion so well. She has a way of getting into the soul of her characters and into yours. And all the while she protects the reader so they feel safe on the journey. It’s a marvelous skill I’m not even sure she’s aware she possesses. Sarah Chorn has quickly become one of my favorite authors and is on my auto-buy list. If you haven’t started reading her books you should rectify that situation.
Today I give you my review of Oh That Shotgun Sky, book 1.5 in the Songs of Sefate. An exploration of fate through pain, emotion, and trauma…with a glimmer of hope and healing.
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.Goodreads Synopsis
What I Loved
- Fate and freedom
- Raw, throbbing pain
- Characters you’d fight for
- Prose that cuts
Before I dive into this review (really just me flinging my feelings on the screen, not so much a review) I should note Oh That Shotgun Sky is a novella set immediately after the events of Of Honey and Wildfires which I reviewed last September. It introduces some new characters and brings back some old ones. I’d say you probably need to read Of Honey and Wildfires first or you won’t understand a lot of what is going on. Now let me also say that what Chorn accomplishes with this novella and it’s minimized page count regarding what else I’m going to say about it is…well…simply amazing.
Fate and freedom are themes that weave themselves throughout this story; themes each character contends with in one way or another. How they react to the events of Of Honey and Wildfires, and how fate and their new found freedom impact their actions is very much at the center of the narrative. How fate dictated the characters lives prior to the story’s opening, and how it brought them together during it’s course is a constant device that is complicated by the freedom they’ve now been given. It’s a strange balance that Chorn deftly explores but not before running her characters, and in turn the reader, through the wringer a bit.
“Free. That’s such a dangerous word. Sure does look pretty sitting in the space beween us like that, all glittering and gem-covered. But I can’t help but wonder how much pain is on the other side of it. After all, even diamonds cut.”Sally Morten – Location 83
And run everyone through the wringer she does. Raw throbbing pain and emotion. Each character experiences these feelings and emotions. Each is beaten, torn, and exposed, and must navigate their loss and traumas in order to heal. Chorn takes the reader along on that journey with the characters. You can feel their suffering and grief. It’s raw, visceral, and it will gut you. These are characters you’d fight for; characters you’d suffer for. I found it amazing Chorn could evoke such a response from me with multiple POV characters and within so few pages.
“Oh, this pain. This unbelievable, relentless severing. This slow slide of the knife down the center of my soul.”Saul Jenson – Location 807
Chorn does this so well because she writes with a prose that cuts you to your core. It’s poetic, at times sharp, at others blunt, and always and everywhere it will open the characters up, lay them bare and invite you to wade through the mess. But it isn’t damaging. It’s like a necessary cutting away of a disease so that the body can heal. Chorn doesn’t leave you or the characters torn and broken but by the end has put you back together and on the road to recovery. It is so deftly done and that is why I now seek it out.
“That’s what love is. It ain’t all soft and pretty; it’s hard and biting too. It’s a hungry wolf, and you just keep feeding that beast bits of yourself…Listen to me and listen well: Love devours.”Saul Jenson – Locations 1046-1047
I know I haven’t said much about the characters themselves, or the plot, or the world building. All three of them are deftly crafted and expressed on the page. Oh That Shotgun Sky is a short interlude in the greater tale that Chorn is telling with Songs of Sefate. It’s one I get the feeling was necessary to move us from book one to book two, and not just some extra bit of narrative that is nice but superfluous. This is a fantasy western story that I can’t get enough of. I want to devour every episode in it that Chorn releases.
But what really grabbed me was all of what I said above and how it was done so tightly. I just can’t adequately describe it. What else can I say other than I think you should be reading this series? I don’t think you’ll regret it. It will move you, and maybe break you a bit. You’ll feel love and hate, joy and anger, pain and healing. When a book does that, and when a series does it multiple times, that’s a sign of something really wonderful. And I just feel the need to shout about it so others can experience it too.
*I received a review copy of this book from the author.
Author: Sarah Chorn
Series: Songs of Sefate #1.5
Publication Date: February 16, 2021