I was so blown away by Rory Power’s debut book Wilder Girls that I jumped at the chance to read an advance copy of her second novel, Burn Our Bodies Down. While they both have VERY different feels, the author’s skill at world building and creating atmosphere is evident in both – and like her first novel, this one left me a little speechless and off-kilter.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of the book; all opinions are entirely my own. This post contain some affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
Published by Random House Children's Books on July 7, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction
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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery--until she decides to return to her mother's hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.
Ever since Margot was born, it's been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot's questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that's not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it's not what she bargained for.
Margot's mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what's still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there's poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she's there, she might never escape.
Praise for Wilder Girls:
4 STARRED REVIEWS!
"Fresh and horrible and beautiful....readers will be consumed and altered by Wilder Girls."-NPR
"This thrilling saga...is sure to be one of the season's most talked-about books, in any genre."--EW
"The perfect kind of story for our current era."--Hypable
"Your new favorite book."--Cosmopolitan.com
My Thoughts on BURN OUR BODIES DOWN
What did I just read? The ending of this book still has me unnerved. I’m not entirely sure how I would classify the genre as it’s part thriller, part mystery, part family drama, and maybe a little bit of horror?
I had high expectations for the book after reading Wilder Girls. In Burn Our Bodies Down, Power delivers the same incredible sense of atmosphere, and you can almost feel the oppressiveness of both towns, of the farmhouse, everything. Growing up in central Illinois and spending a few summer working in cornfields, they can be eerie enough on their own with their carefully placed rows, so the chaotic planting and the evident sickness of Vera’s crops adds to the malaise of the farm.
But it’s the characters who shine, although shine is not a word I’d use for any of the characters. They have rough edges. Margot’s longing for a relationship, her recognition of the push-pull for attention or anything from her mother, the evasiveness and alternating love and cruelty from her grandmother were hard to read.
At times, this isn’t an easy book to read. The pace of the book at the beginning is slow, a bit reflective of the oppressive heat and the kind of emptiness that is Margot’s life. There are times, too, when none of the characters are particularly likable and yet Power pulls me into Margot’s story because, quite frankly, I have no clue what is going on. It’s clear Margo is being lied to, she knows this as well, and that is what drives the plot forward – her need for answers, and maybe also her desperate need for love, for reciprocation from a family member. That said, while I had ideas of what might be going on, wild and crazy ones, nothing prepared me for what was really going on at the farm!
Despite the slow pace at the start, this was a page turner. Disturbing, moody,emotionally gripping, and while I’ve still got questions, the ending doesn’t leave me with a “but wait, what’s next” like Wilder Girls did (thank you, Rory.)