By Sarah Chorn
Poignant and raw, desperately fierce and beautiful.
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.
In book one of this duology, Of Honey and Wildfires, (which left me shattered and out of tissues, Review here) we are introduced to Shine territory and the men and women who try to squeeze a living from a hard land. Many are savagely oppressed by the Shine company. It’s run by a ruthless man, Matthew Esco, who claimed it as his own. He erected the magical Boundary that would ensure that he kept it under his control. Fatal to anyone attempting to cross without Shine in their system, it still sickens all who pass through even treated with a Shine tonic. Now the boundary has fallen left chaos in it’s wake. Arlen, heir to Matthew Esco’s empire, and Cassandra, siblings who never knew each other, must attempt to pick up the shattered pieces of their world.
In Oh, That Shotgun Sky, a Songs of Sefate novella (Review here), we meet a group of women fleeing their captors from a brothel. Indentured to the company, they were slave whores in a mining camp. Escaping in the chaos, they must fight for their lives and find a safe place to settle. They weren’t the only ones lost and drifting in the wilds. Saul and Ned, each shattered in their own way, find the women and together they manage to secure a measure of safety in their tiny, remote town of Fletcher. This tale fits snugly between the two novels and gives us some insight into characters we knew from book one, plus introduces us to some pivotal characters for book two.
Now the Union is moving in to gain control of the territory. Fletcher is in the sights of the company and their plans for the railroad. The women of Fletcher send Grace to Grove to find Arlen. Grace and her special and beautiful little boy,Teddy. As the heir to the Esco company, Arlen holds the rights to the railroad. He and his lawyer, are trying to help the territory pull itself together, make some laws and hold an election. Arlen and Cassandra, both still mired in their own grief, must find a way to become whole again and keep the Union army from taking the territory.
Each installment of the Songs of Sefate is a riveting tale. Each one deals with trauma, death, love, despair, grief and healing. Glass Rhapsody opens old wounds, but woven throughout is the healing desperately needed for the shattered souls of those left behind. It brings the story told in Of Honey and Wildfires full circle, offering a stellar story and a deeply moving look into those whose lives are shaped by their differences. Those who long for peace and acceptance to live and love as they choose.
The western setting is so full, beautiful, and dangerous. Through its unforgettable characters Sarah Chorn deftly explores gay and lesbian love, transgender identity, autism and all the ways that these isolating things can be accepted and and how people can flourish when taken out from under the heel of oppression, misunderstanding, and prejudice. It explores yearning hearts, ghosts of our pasts, and the loss of those we love in simply beautiful and powerful prose.
I look at the sky and realize that’s how I feel. Untouchable. Unfathomable. Stained by gradations of tenderness, fractured by light. I know how the day must feel as it breaks. And breaks.
While these events reach closure, Chorn opens the way in this world for more to come as the greed of men knows no bounds. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Readers will find something for everyone within these pages of low fantasy in a weird western. Highly recommended reading.
Glass Rhapsody is available for pre-order, releasing on June 30, 2021
More from Sarah Chorn:
Sarah has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a freelance writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor with hEDS, and mom to one seven-year-old, and one rambunctious toddler. In her ideal world, she’d do nothing but drink lots of tea and read from a never-ending pile of speculative fiction books. She has been running the speculative fiction review blog Bookworm Blues for eight years. You can find her on Twitter @BookwormBlues.