From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil.
What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory.
The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all.
Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.
You know those authors whose writing and stories just speak to you on a deep emotional level? Yeah, Sarah Chorn is absolutely becoming one of those for me. After reading (and loving) A Sorrow Named Joy, I immediately knew that I wanted to read anything and everything Chorn has ever written. So, I decided to finally pick up the gorgeous Of Honey and Wildfires, and holy crap… this didn’t just meet my expectations, but completely blew them out of the water.
Honey and Wildfires is a fantasy western following three characters across
several timelines, which all converge beautifully in the end. They live in a
world where a magical oil called Shine is a much sought-after commodity, even
though it can do more harm than good if you are not careful. Now, I don’t want
to give anything away about the plot, because I think part of the beauty of
this story lies in the bewilderment that you will feel while discovering what’s
at the heart of this tale. You will feel a bit lost, but that is okay. Just
trust the author.
All you really need to know is that this is an achingly beautiful drama about love, family, friendship, secrets, exploitation, loss, pain, and, in the end, hope. The structure of this story is complex and yet so simple at the same time, which perfectly reflects the chaotic and messy nature of life. This entire story is just so beautifully and painfully human.
Our three main characters are so incredibly complex and well-developed, which made their hardships and struggles feel extremely genuine and real. Their relationships and interactions are also really heartfelt and emotional, which made this story so incredibly gripping. I really appreciated that they are so different and distinct from each other, both in their personalities as well as in their worldviews and life experiences. They all added their own layer of depth and nuance to the story, which made this book all the more compelling. This is honestly just a really deep and layered character study, and that worked so well for me as a character-driven reader.
Also, I really enjoyed seeing how wonderfully diverse this world is. We follow a trans character and a biracial character, plus there’s a beautiful sapphic dynamic going on. The LGBTQIA+ representation is handled with so much love and care, and I really appreciated how it never became a main point of contention in the story. It’s just part of the human experience, which is what this book is all about. Whether you can personally relate to these characters’ experiences or not, you will undoubtedly empathize with them and feel for their struggles. Sarah Chorn just really knows how to pull on your heartstrings!
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful and immersive prose here. I’ve always said that prose isn’t something that can make or break a book for me, but after reading Of Honey and Wildfires, I am seriously reconsidering that statement. Sarah Chorn is an absolute wordsmith and turns her prose into pure art. I don’t think there’s a book that I have annotated more than this one, every page had a line or passage that just spoke to my soul. Whether it's the sense of atmosphere that’s created or the way in which the characters’ emotions are conveyed, Chorn delivers it all in a devastatingly gorgeous manner and completely pulls you in. I absolutely loved getting lost in this story.
All in all, I am delighted that this book ended up being just as amazing as I was hoping it to be. If you are in the mood for a story that is both very easy and at the same time extremely challenging to read, then I highly recommend giving Of Honey and Wildfires a shot. It’s just hauntingly beautiful.
About the reviewer
Hi! I’m Esmay, a 20-year-old bookworm from the
Netherlands. My main hobbies are reading books, talking about books, reviewing
books and watching videos of people talking about books. Fantasy is my
favourite genre, but I will honestly read anything if the premise intrigues me.
Also, over the past year, I’ve become a huge (SFF) indie/self-pub enthusiast and
it’s been a wonderful experience to discover all the hidden gems. I’m forever
exploring stranger worlds.
You can follow her on Goodreads and Twitter.
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 two. 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 review blog Bookworm Blues for over ten years, has been editing books for four, and has been a published author since 2019.