4* Review: The Hummingbird Sanctuary – Erin Zak

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Make sure to hone your emotional vulnerability skills before turning a single page of this book. The cover maybe eye catching in its simplicity, but the story within is as multifaceted as they come. Erin Zak knows how to tell a story and boy is this a good one.

Zak is fast becoming an author i look out for. Despite not being an avid romance reader, there is something in the way that Zak creates her stories that draws me in. They are often beautifully layered, featuring strong and yet simultaneously vulnerable women. Her characters are always on a personal journey; journeys that Zak knows exactly how to make a reader feel, truly and deeply.

The Hummingbird Sanctuary is no different. At times turning the pages of this book, felt like slowly peeling an onion right down to its naked core.

Those layers enclose the individual stories of the protagonists; Olive, Eleanor and Harriet. Told in the first person but from three different view points, readers are introduced to the three best friends, each of which are owner/operators of The Hummingbird Sanctuary. A creation through which to honour their mothers and women everywhere.

As a new resort in Colorado and with the grand opening of a new events arena looming , Olive, Eleanor and Harriet are resigned to hosting a journalist from On the Verge, namely the successful Mabel Sommers and her two friends, Judy and Sunny. The trio’s arrival heralds an avalanche of secrets and self discovery, old wounds are forced open (as if they were ever truly closed) and for one unsuspecting individual true love beckons. Friendships and relationships may never be the same again, but there’s no turning back now.

“My brain is a professional gravedigger, burying my feelings deeper and deeper and covering them up.”

Erin Zak, The Hummingbird sanctuary

The complexity and depth of The Hummingbird Sanctuary can’t be convincingly conveyed in a review, it is a story that needs to be read in order to experience the emotional journey that Zak expertly crafts for each of her protagonists. The inner turmoil that pours from Olive, Eleanor and Harriet as they each struggle with their own pain and vulnerability is at times chaotic and yet unquestionably true to real life. After all human emotions are anything but straight forward an aspect that Zak showcases perfectly throughout.

Aside from my love of the very realness of this story, credit is always due to authors who work to include a diverse range of characters in their stories. In this book Zak celebrates diversity with characters who are bisexual, asexual, people of colour and/or curvaceous. In doing so readers are presented with an opportunity to further their own learning and understanding, if they so wish.

My one and only niggle, was the inclusion of a plot point in relation to the death of Olive’s husband Paul, which from a readers perspective seemed to have been crafted to induce a moment of conflict between Olive and Eleanor. However as Olive and Eleanor were already individually creating their own internal conflict regarding their feelings for each other, i felt that this could have been used as the point of conflict just as effectively. As such the plot point regarding the aftermath of Paul’s death seemed surplus to requirements from my perspective.

I received an ARC of this book for review from Bold Strokes Books via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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Available on 12/04/2022 from:

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