Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

“Keep a fire burning; a fire is what saves you.”

Such is the number one rule in Margot’s household, set by her mother before she could even walk. 17-year-old Margot lives with her emotionally distant mother in a small town where it is difficult to find peace and solitude. They constantly struggle to get along, butting heads at the smallest of issues while ignoring the largest insecurities plaguing them. However, nothing compares to the biggest secret held from Margot; the girl has no idea where she came from, and her mother gives no clues or mention to any extended family. Eventually, several discoveries lead her down a new path, leaving home to gain independence and seek out the truth behind her mysterious origins.

Burn Our Bodies Down depicts the journey Margot takes to discover that hidden side of her history, to a town called Phalene. As the story develops, we are introduced to characters within the town, each reacting to Margot’s appearance in an unexpected way. One of my favorite elements of this book is the characterization of Margot and her new friend Tess, foils in ideas and influences. Margot sees the world through the eyes of someone living a tragedy, unable to get a firm grasp on a stable and happy life. Tess, on the other hand, is privileged enough to see the world as a written tragedy, experiencing the horrifying events that unfold as if they were a story and not someone’s real life. She treats her new friend’s dilemma as a mystery to be theorized about, not realizing that her life can too become tragic until it’s too late.

As the story unfolds, tension builds to the point where we can only throw blind guesses at the page, with a final reveal that sent chills down my spine. Themes of responsibility, love, and empathy reign supreme throughout the novel, creating a beautiful coming-of-age story (if you consider horrifying supernatural occurrences to be typical in a teenage experience). Unlike Power’s previous book “Wilder Girls”, I found this book difficult to get into. However, knowing the author’s potential, I luckily stuck with the story as it picked up steam. The final chapters are a whirlwind of shock and excitement that I was grateful to experience, and wholeheartedly recommend the book to any fan of mysteries, thrillers, and emotional dramas.

Bailey L.

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In A Dark, Dark Wood shows how dark a reunion of friends can get. It goes into the worst possible scenarios that could happen at a reunion all leading to the last scenario that leaves them unsure of who to trust.

Nora lives alone in a flat in London. She runs frequently and enjoys living alone because she doesn’t have to share with anyone. One day while writing a book, she gets an email from an old friend from college called Clare. The email invites Nora to a getaway before Clare gets married. Nora decides to go. When she gets to the isolated house, something feels off to her but she can’t tell what it is.

As the getaway goes on, Nora starts feeling more and more like something odd is going on around her. Finally, during the night all the girls in the house are awoken by a loud noise. The gather together in one room and start hearing footsteps coming up the stairs. Nora grabs a shotgun oddly placed on the wall in front of her and walks out to the stairs. At the stairs, Nora sees a hooded man coming up the stairs. Nora precedes to shoot him with the shotgun which sends him tumbling back down the stairs. As Nora goes to see who it is, she sees that it’s James her college love. James also happens to be the man Clare is getting married to.

Nora begins tying a cloth around James wound to try to stop the bleeding. Then they lift James up into the car. Nora goes to go get her jacket before leaving, but when she goes back outside, Clare is already long gone. Nora runs to the road to get to the car. She gets to the road and sees nothing. Then out of nowhere, Clare’s car speeds onto the road and hits Nora. Nora then wakes up at the hospital forgetful of what happened. Soon she pieces everything together and realizes that Clare had planned everything. She tells that to the police and soon Clare gets taken into custody and then locked up

– Emilio V.

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library