Burn Our Bodies Down

Delacorte. Jul. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525645627.
Gr 9 Up–Power’s second novel is an unsettling mystery, slowly unfurling from a haunting tale of mothers and daughters to a stranger, more violent conclusion. Margot has only ever known life with her mother—just the two of them alone together with the rituals that her mother says will keep them safe. Margot thinks she has no family until a photo leads her to a town called Phalene, where she finds her grandmother living in an eerie house amidst dying cornfields. Margot knows she has to find some answers when her Gram’s property catches fire and Margot finds the dead body of a girl who could be her twin sister. This book is effective in its pacing as it builds from a slow beginning, focusing on the small interactions between characters to a grander, more frenetic end. There is a slow seep of creepy details throughout—each seemingly disjointed but ultimately significant to the conclusion, which speaks of the complex love and dysfunction passed down from mothers to daughters one generation after the other. This novel is reminiscent of stories like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” in that it masterfully plays with imagery and setting to show the internal anguish of a character seeking to escape old patterns.
VERDICT A creepy mystery recommended for readers who enjoy character-driven stories with elements of horror.

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