Fantasy Book Review: Oh, That Shotgun Sky by Sarah Chorn

Fantasy Book Review

Oh, That Shotgun Sky
Author: Sarah Chorn
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
Genres: Epic Fantasy
ShelvesFemale-authored, Female-fronted

Last year, when I had the great pleasure of getting an early look at Of Honey and Wildfires, I talked about it being a painfully beautiful book, a story that was as overwhelming as it was all-consuming. What I don't think I properly addressed was just how emotionally wrecked it left me, however, and that's where I want to begin talking about Oh, That Shotgun Sky.

Sarah Chorn is as much a mistress of emotions as she is of words, and she somehow builds a romance out of nothing more than furtive glances, stolen words, and shared experiences that rivals just about any traditional love affair in genre fiction. 

We stare at each other across a room full of ash and char, the remnants of everything we’ve ever known. All that pain and heartbreak. All our secret, shared glances, and moments of wanting, but not being able to have.

It all happened here, in the space stretched between us. I’ve never been alone with her. Never told her how I feel. And yet the truth lays naked and waiting, sprawled out between us, waiting for us to explore it.

This is a story that didn't just tug at my heartstrings but twist them, torture them, and stomp all over them. I felt such love for Sally and Eloise from the start, wanting them to have what the world had always denied them, and the closer a wounded Eloise came to death, the more I seethed against the cruel hand of fate. I cannot put them into context for you, as you'll never understand without reading that far yourself, but there are three words near the end of the story that absolutely broken me - and they're not "I love you."

Two-thirds of this story is comprised of the simplicity of women surviving on their own, despite the harshness of a cruel world and crueler men around them. We have Sally, Eloise, Grace, and Bekah from the brothel, fleeing blindly into the darkness, wanting nothing more than to live and love, but prepared to settle for dying free. In their journey, they come across Abigail and Bertie, a pair of women who seem to have that found freedom to live and love, but they have a story too, one just as full of pain and sorrow.

You can go ahead and fall off the edge of the world if you want to, but you damn well better wait for me, because wherever you go, I follow

Rounding out the tale is two men, Saul and Ned, who are damaged in their own ways, both products and remnants of the Company. It's through them that the story connects most directly with Of Honey and Wildfires, and I love how Sarah explores the consequences of that story through them. The two should be mortal enemies. At least one of them should be dead the moment they meet. They're nothing alike. And yet, somehow, they complete one another, with one providing purpose and the other sanity. For the women to survive, it's men like this that must do the healing, and the way they all come together, free of Shine and free of Company expectations, is wonderful.

As with any of Sarah's books, the writing here is sheer artistry, full of starkly beautiful words and painfully beautiful phrases that invite you to pause and admire the language, but which never interfere with the pacing of the story. It's largely a quiet story, full of deep thoughts and deeper feelings, but it's bookended by a pair of violent scenes, both of which end lives while beginning others. For a side-story to the overall Songs of Sefate, a novella-length bridge between Of Honey and Wildfires and the upcoming Glass RhapsodyOh, That Shotgun Sky is a wholly satisfying tale that provides closure and hope and leaves me hungry for more. 

If you're not already reading Sarah Chorn, do yourself a favor and get her books in your hand as soon as possible. She's a writer, a storyteller, and (I swear) a witch with powers to get inside the head and heart unlike just about anybody else in the genre.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 

My sincere thanks to the author me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.