FIRE ALONG THE SKY
Bantam, October 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
"I wasn't gone all that long. How come you let so much happen without me?" says Nathaniel Bonner's niece, Annie. And that is exactly what Sara Donati's fans are going to say if they don't run out and get the latest release in the Wilderness series. FIRE ALONG THE SKY is the fourth novel featuring the Bonner family. This installment focuses on the lives of Nathaniel Bonner's children, Hannah, Lily, Daniel and Luke.
Hannah, also known as Walk-Ahead, Nathaniel's firstborn, returns to Paradise without her husband Strikes-the-Skies and their child, Makes-a-Fist. Too traumatized to tell her father and Elizabeth what has become of her family, Hannah is swept into the events of the War of 1812 and the changes it brings to their mountainside village.
Lily Bonner, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Elizabeth and Nathaniel, leaves home to live in Montreal with her brother Luke. She goes to study art and develop her talent, but she torn between two men, both with past connections that would make it difficult for her family to accept them.
Lily's twin brother Daniel and his cousin, Blue-Jay, join the militia to fight for their country. The twins are separated for the first time in their lives and Daniel's war experiences set him on a path that changes him forever.
Luke Bonner of Montreal is brought face to face with the only woman he has ever loved, the woman who married another man. Jennet Scott Huntar, widow of the Earl of Carryck, has come from Scotland seeking him, but Luke has made commitments to a cause that could impact the Bonners and the woman he loves. When Luke first met Jennet in Scotland she wasn't free, and now that she has come for him, he isn't free to claim her without endangering those he loves.
FIRE ALONG THE SKY features Nathaniel and Elizabeth at the center of dramatic changes in the lives of their children. The village of Paradise and many of its settlers, Curiosity Freeman, Richard Todd, Jemima Kuick, and Liam Kirby, are revisited in this tale. The author has included a list of the primary characters and a brief description of who they are in the front of FIRE ALONG THE SKY to refresh readers' memories due to the large cast of characters.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every book in this series. My favorite is the first release, INTO THE WILDERNESS, but FIRE ALONG THE SKY runs a close second. I found reading the stories of the next generation of Bonner children very satisfying. The opening pages feature three prologues: Jennet, Hannah, and Elizabeth, in an attempt to frame their separate stories for the readers. It gives the book a slow start before moving into the action of what is going on in Paradise. It always takes a little time for me to adjust to Donati's pacing and writing style, but once I do her deeply emotional stories draw me in. FIRE ALONG THE SKY is not the book for a new reader to start with; you would be lost trying to pick up the threads of this tale. The titles in sequential order are INTO THE WILDERNESS, DAWN ON A DISTANT SHORE, LAKE IN THE CLOUDS and FIRE ALONG THE SKY. The ending is dramatic and features a cliffhanger that is sure to make readers eager for the next title in the series, THE QUEEN OF SWORDS.
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