Book Review: Burntown

pic from Netgalley

Burntown
By Jennifer McMahon

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 304 pages
2017, Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385541367 (hardcover)

Necco has lived on the streets of a New England town ever since her father and brother died because of the mysterious ghost telephone her father constructed. Necco and her mother joined a clan of “fire eaters” – mystical women who use a drug called the Devil’s Snuff to see the future – but after her mother’s suicide, Necco left the company of the other women to live on her own in an abandoned car. When her boyfriend, Hermes, is murdered while they slept, Necco finds herself on the run from a man called Snake Eyes – the man who was after her father’s machine and is now after her. Necco finds her life intertwined with that of Theo, a high school girl who owes a man a lot of money for the drugs she was selling for him and Pru, a lunch lady who dreams of life at the circus.  As the three women try to outwit Snake Eyes, Necco’s past is revealed to be far darker than she ever imagined.

This book is really hard to describe.

For some reason, I thought it was going to be a post-apocalyptic deal, likely because I’m an ass and read the description a million years ago and then forgot it by the time I actually started reading this. It’s in no way post-apocalyptic and I’m totally ok with that. This is one of those books where I kept asking myself, “Is there magic, or not?” and I enjoyed the uncertainty. It’s a thriller/mystery with a dash of ‘protagonist who can’t remember which parts of her past are real’ thrown in (NOT unreliable narrator! There’s a difference, I’m sure.) and a sprinkle of magical possibilities. Yes, good.

The story is told from different characters viewpoints and we start off hearing from Necco’s father, Miles, and with what happened to his mother and father when he was young. Just as I was hooked, the story transitioned to Necco and I was like “wtf, get away” because I needed more Miles. Then Necco’s chapter ended and I met Theo (who is gay, or maybe bi, if that interests you) and I was like “omg, bring back Necco you b-“ AND THEN Theo’s view ended and I was like…well, you get the idea.

Basically, I enjoyed each character’s viewpoint and each chapter left me wanting more from them, but excited to be hearing from another character again. The narratives kept the plot moving and the slow reveal of Necco’s past and her family’s history with Snake Eyes kept me intrigued.

I did guess the final twist before it happened, but I’m not sure it was supposed to be some huge reveal anyway. I still enjoyed the ending and this story had quite a bit of depth.

If you’re looking for a character driven, thrilleresque, quasi-ghost story then I highly recommend this!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Jennifer’s site.

nancy drew

 

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