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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Doubleday
Publishing 4/25/17

There is no doubt that Jennifer McMahon is a BRILLIANT writer.  She always packs a punch and weaves a tale worth reading.  There are so many elements to this novel, I just don't know where to begin.  Read my review below and then continue past the warning of a teeny spoilery part if you want to know my further thoughts.


Miles watches his mother get murdered by a man in a chicken mask and runs him off by launching an arrow from the bushes. As he grows older, he meets Lily, who is the only one he can trust with his secrets. He marries her and has a daughter of his own, Eva. Eva is his little helper in his workshop where he creates various inventions - his biggest one being from the plans of Thomas Edison himself. He's terrified to turn it on as it is supposed to allow you to speak to the dead. All he wants is to speak to his mother one last time to find out who killed her. During a storm, the machine turns on and warns of danger. The chicken man has caught up with him and now he has to fight to protect his family. And that's just the first 30 pages.

BAM! The author just pulls you in straight from the get go. We get introduced to a variety of characters - from the Fire Eaters that Eva's mom becomes a part of to Theo, a high school drug dealer to Pru, the high school cafeteria worker with a secret life. Throughout the journey, we begin to learn why they need each other, how their friendships get forged and what they do to protect each other as the chicken man gains momentum in finding Eva. The past comes back and she realizes that her mother wasn't just spouting nonsense.

I am struggling to figure out how to write this without spoiling anything. There is no question as to McMahon's ability to weave a tale and suck you into a story that keeps your nose in the book, eyes wide open, finger at the ready for the next page. I love the characters in this book and the first half really grasped me in a way that I had to pry my fingers from the book so I could get some sleep. There are spirits of fantasy, the supernatural and thrilling suspense. I was in it for a full 5 stars but then it went in a different direction than I anticipated. 

*******

Please stop here as the rest may be a TEENY big spoilery!  You've been warned!!     

OK - so I had to stop and only give this 4 stars because I just wanted more about the machine.  I felt it was such a huge presence in the beginning of the book and was the reason for so many things but yet it wasn't featured the way I felt I wanted it to be.  And the way the antagonist was presented, along with the machine, I felt it was going to be a more horror/supernatural feel.  So in a very small kind of way, I felt a bit cheated by not getting that element.  Totally just a personal preference. 

Keep in mind, I have NOT read The Winter People so I know people are comparing this book to that one and giving this book a hard time because of it.  Don't get me wrong, this book is brilliantly done.  I just needed MORE.  I wish I could pinpoint exactly what that MORE was besides needing the machine to be more prominent, but I just did. 

View all my reviews

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