Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power – Review

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.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley for the eARC of this vibrant second release from one of my favorite YA authors. I fell head over heels for Wilder Girls last year, and it was actually one of the first ARCs I ever received from NetGalley. Rory’s work means a lot to me in that it was a huge moment for me when I received such an anticipated work as I was just starting out as a book blogger, and it gave me something to sink my teeth into as a review writer. In that vein, I was so excited to get Burn Our Bodies Down, and I had every faith that it would hold up to the standard that Wilder Girls set. I couldn’t have been more right. Rory has delivered another gut-wrenching tale led by a fierce and aged-beyond-her-years spitfire of a girl inside a setting just close enough to the world we call home to strike a chord, yet far enough removed with supernatural elements to keep you up at night.

Margot greets us at the beginning of this journey with a heavy heart and seventeen years of weight on her shoulders. She survives a tense relationship with her strange mother, both because of and in spite of the woman. They fight and struggle to make ends meet, but at the end of the day, they are all the other has. For a long time, Margot pretended to be okay with that. However, a streak of boldness finds her uncovering a secret that her mother has hidden all of her life; a family. In a desperate attempt to scrounge up what normalcy and conclusion she can, this daughter of a fire long gone out makes it to her mother’s hometown. She uncovers much more than she bargained for; walking straight into a blaze, one of splintered memories and actual flames. Margot learns something is very wrong in not only Phalene, but her own family tree.

The book takes us on a ride of self discovery, family ties, and wishes gone wrong. Margot grows up feeling like a carbon copy of her mother. Even as she escapes to Phalene, she feels as though she is carrying her decisions in her every step. Though this mystery that she is handed is one just past the folds of our reality, the sins of a past that isn’t even hers is incredibly real and haunting; something that teenagers far and wide are sometimes saddled with. Margot is the epitome of strong, and I hope that this novel will remind readers who are wrestling with themselves that they are more than extensions of their loved ones. They can break out of these vicious cycles, burn down any expectations, and start anew. Picking up this story is a good place to start, and they can feel the beating of their own heart within their chest as they sift through the pain, the gore, and the twists and turns as Margot finds who she really needed all along; herself.

Rory has struck gold yet again. If you’re looking for a page-turner mystery that will leave you as breathless as an inferno in a cornfield, this is it. As someone with a very strong bond with her mother and no father currently in the picture, I felt Margot’s uncertainty to my core. I have no idea what I would do if handed the keys to all my family’s secrets like she was. I was so proud of her strength and bravery, and admired how she handled herself in a small town that had already convinced itself of what she was. But she, like all of us, is not her last name. She’s not even her face. She is her mind and her experiences, and that is heartening. No matter how duplicated you might feel, you are you, and that’s enough. Burn Our Bodies Down is a thrilling and hopeful read, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

5/5 stars

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