I’m often at a loss when it comes to figuring out what I want to say in a review. This is especially true when a book and/or an author just utterly and completely wows me with story, and language, and craft. We’ve all been there right? Our minds firing off all these little snippets to use but you can’t string them together into anything coherent when the time comes to post a review. That’s been my experience with anything and everything I’ve read from Sarah Chorn. Her latest novel, Glass Rhapsody is no exception to this phenomenon. As with the rest of the Songs of Sefate series, Glass Rhapsody gutted me….it continued to work away at a wound opened with Of Honey and Wildfires, but, it healed as well. It worked at that wound, cleaned it up, and let me recover. This series is an emotional experience as much as it is a story, one that carries you through the pain to redemption and recovery on the other side.
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.Goodreads Blurb
- Prose and Metaphor
- Character Development
- Mental Health
- Healing and Redemption
If you don’t know anything about this series check out my previous reviews for Of Honey And Wildfires, and Oh That Shotgun Sky. It’s a western of sorts, set in a world similar to ours but with a magic system tied to Shine, a substance like oil in our Western U.S. But Shine does so much more than act as a fuel source. I won’t burden you with an overview of the previous books, but you can get a sense for them from my reviews and the blurbs in each one.
Glass Rhapsody, like the other books in the series, is written with what I can only describe as atmospheric lyrical and poetic prose and metaphor. This is a hallmark of Chorn’s writing. The prose and use of metaphor immediately establish a framework in which the story is told. It’s these elements as much or more than the plot and events of the novels that create the “feels” one gets when reading. Chorn’s writing loses none of the strength and power from the previous two books. I’m simply awed by what she can do.
I believe the best Western’s are those that focus on character, where the action and the setting become backdrops for the important work of the journey. That may be true in all good books, but Western’s stand out to me in this way. Here Chorn closes out the Songs of Sefate by building upon the character development of the previous two books and really breaking them down to their lowest point in order to build them back up. Without doing so the end game of the story, the healing and redemption of the characters (not the plot outcome) would never be believable.
Something else about this series and this book in particular is the representation it offers. It includes gay and trans characters, characters dealing with mental health issues, and in this installment, a character on the spectrum. In a time when we still have books that ignore these character elements, it is refreshing to find them here. Their experiences and struggles are real and they reinforce the diversity in our own world that is too often overlooked in our fiction.
I mentioned mental health already but I want to give it a little more focus, because so much of the character development and narrative outcome is tied up with it. For the entire series we’ve seen characters struggling with mental health. In Glass Rhapsody the issues some characters are facing threaten to become full blown crisis. It is something they each have to work through and provides significant tension and turmoil for the characters themselves and those around them. Like in real life it’s how they handle these crisis for better or for worse that determine the outcome of the narrative.
Ultimately Glass Rhapsody is a story about healing and redemption. The series begins with pain and loss, and just keeps working through those themes. And while each book ends on a somewhat positive note, the next illustrates how that is often an illusion, a temporary high that quickly sends the characters (and the reader) into a new spiral worse than before. That’s because recovery and redemption don’t truly happen until you can peel back all the layers and get at the raw ugly center of the problem. But once you do, well then you can begin to move on. It may not be what you thought would happen, things may not be perfect, but you end up on the other side facing the dawn. That’s what Glass Rhapsody does for The Songs of Sefate. And wow…what an emotional journey it was.
I really hope you’ll give this series a try. It isn’t full of action, or sword and sorcery. It isn’t high/epic fantasy or grimdark. And you may need to prepare yourself for the journey it will take you on because it WILL gut you and leave you raw at times. But it will be worth it. Let’s face it, sometimes as a reader we need that whether we realize it or not, in order to grow ourselves.
I received an ARC of this book from the author.
Author: Sarah Chorn
Series: The Songs of Sefate #3
Publication Date: June 30, 2021