Book Review: Of Honey and Wildfires by Sarah Chorn

Book Synopsis

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.

Of Honey and Wildfires by Sarah Chorn is a heart-breaking tale filled with beautiful prose that captured me from the off. It is something a little bit different to the normal fantasy or sci-fi that I usually read, but you know what? I reminded myself that variety is the spice of life and I am really, really pleased I picked this up.

The story is set in a Wild West style environment, where a magical substance called Shine has been discovered. Shine can be used for pretty much everything it seems, from rejuvenating rotten food to medicine to fuelling machines or acting as a form of gunpowder for weaponry. It is also a highly addictive in its raw form, which is used by many as a drug to ‘escape’ the harsh realities of life in this setting. Harsh realities that come from the monopoly that a single company has over the mining and production of Shine – which has made them practically untouchable and hugely powerful. The horrors that this form of unchecked wealth, power and greed release are, for me at least, one of the two core themes running through this book. And Sarah Chorn really doesn’t hide away from the disquieting and ugly side of things here. Especially in the Arlen chapters where he is directly confronted with child labour, addiction and impoverished families that are permanently indebted to the ‘Company’, making them little more than slaves in reality.

The other big theme that the plot follows here is what it means to belong to a family and be loved. Naturally, these questions are emotive and this is where Sarah Chorn’s writing really and truly shines. Leaning heavily towards the purple prose side of things, the writing wonderfully captures the emotions of our three POV characters – Arlen, Cassandra and Ianthe – throughout and tug at your heart strings pretty hard. Honestly, I challenge anyone to read this and not get hit right in the feels – Cassandra’s chapters seemed to repeatedly get me. But basically, what I am saying, is make sure you have some tissues around as Sarah Chorn clearly has plans to rip her readers’ hearts out!

Now, one thing to note here that might not be for everyone is that the story does jump back-and-forth between a few time lines. We meet the same characters throughout, just at different times in their lives as the plot builds to an explosive crescendo at the end. Overall, I quite liked this as it really helped get to know our characters. However, I do think it might frustrate some people – occasionally it did for me with a chapter seemingly building to an event before skipping to a couple chapters set 10 years earlier when it seemed to be getting to the good stuff!

So, do I recommend people read Of Honey and Wildfires? Absolutely! I loved its painfully human way of pulling at your heartstrings and lyrical writing style. Each character felt unique and carried their own distinct voice, so if it sounds a little bit up your street then definitely check it out. Plus, the sequel (Glass Rhapsody) is coming out at the end of the month.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Of Honey and Wildfires by Sarah Chorn

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Glass Rhapsody by Sarah Chorn – Book Reviews | Jack's Bedtime Reading

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Oh, That Shotgun Sky by Sarah Chorn – Book Reviews | Jack's Bedtime Reading

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