Review: Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

  • Genre: YA horror/mystery
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2020
  • Publisher: Delacourte

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. 

Disclaimer: I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Netgalley and Delacourte Press.

I have not read Power’s popular although divisive debut, Wilder Girls. Judging by its synopsis, though, I’d say Burn Our Bodies Down is more of a mystery, less gory, and less overtly speculative fiction for most of the book’s time. So if you didn’t like Wilder Girls, I would still check it out.

Burn Our Bodies Down starts out as a bit of a slow burn (ha), but once I got to the 30% mark where a major event happened soon after Margot arrived in Phalene, I was compelled to keep reading. Even if a lot of the action doesn’t come until the end, there is a sense of uneasiness and dread throughout.

I will say that there were some ideas I had early on that turned out to be true to an extent and that Margot caught onto a bit later than perhaps the average person–but that is part of her character. She has been so sheltered and told so many things she has to deal with her whole world changing. Because one of the main threads done well in Burn Our Bodies Down is that of the effects of emotional abuse and neglect. Margot has lived 17 years shut off from most of the world and, as she says a few times, raised herself. Instead of “whodunnit?” some of the major questions are exactly what she’s going to do and how…the ending left me a bit surprised but also satisfying, and that’s a testament to her character growth.

I won’t give anything away, but the last 20% of the book had me on edge and truly took a horror turn. I had to stay up and read it…at the risk of having nightmares! So I’d recommend finishing this one in broad daylight if graphic images at night bother you!

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