I’ve been making room in my schedule for more reading. I read Lori Benton’s book Burning Sky back in the fall. It was so good that I planned to purchase The Wood’s Edge in April to read when I finished my beta-copy of Instruments of Intervention. God has a sense of humor, because He gave me the opportunity to read an ARC (advanced reader copy), two months before it officially comes out. I couldn’t say no.
As with her first two books, Lori’s attention to historical detail brings the reader right into the 1700’s frontier life. She has mastered giving a solid historical backdrop by weaving it through the characters’ personal stories. The complicated relationships between the different groups of settlers and Native American tribes all feel authentic. From the encounters with soldiers to missionaries, you can’t help but step away from the book with a deeper understanding our history.
The course of two families’ lives are forever changed by Major Reginald Aubrey’s decision to switch his dead newborn son for one of the twins born the same night to a woman from the nearby Oneida community. The repercussions of his decision are foreshadowed in the ensuing escape as the French take the fort and the natives with them attack the fleeing English. The rest of the book reveals the domino effect of that decision over twenty years as the twin boys grow up in two very different households and cultures.
To tell you anymore would spoil the story, but I will mention the pacing is different from Lori’s last two books. As a writer, I can tell you trying to cover 20 years of one character’s life is difficult, but Lori manages to weave the life events of a whole cast of characters so well that while you are aware of the passing time, you don’t feel lapses in their stories. It also allows for a slower more enjoyable read. You can set the book down in between the year breaks feeling satisfied. Yet the next time you see The Wood’s Edge, you just as eagerly want to pick it up again.
As you approach the end you suddenly feel there aren’t enough chapters to wrap up all the questions going through your mind, but Lori’s ending doesn’t disappoint. There is redemption, forgiveness, and healing in the characters’ lives and hope for the future. Being the first in a series, the few unanswered questions leave the reader with an anticipation, but not a dissatisfaction. You walk away confident God has everything in hand and yet uncertain what the future holds for characters that have become dear friends.
The Wood’s Edge will stay with you and give you plenty to talk to the Lord about. I wrestled with God over all the times Reginald had the opportunity to confess his sin and to make it right. I reflected on some of my own life decisions and their impacts. I walked away with an awareness that our sin has ripples of consequences, and we never know the whole story behind someone’s sin (even in fiction). I also realized God’s forgiveness is only half of the healing process of repentance. There is also a need for honesty and restitution to those we’ve hurt in the process.
The care and time Lori puts into each book is relished in every bite like a soup that has all day to simmer. While 2016 feels far off for the sequel, The Flight of Arrows, I know it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, when I find myself missing my beloved friends, I know they are simply a bookshelf away and will reminisce with them as I hear their story again.
You can find more about Lori Benton and her books at her website.
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*While I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review, this review is completely my own opinions and complies with ethical author standards.