Burntown: A Novel by Jennifer McMahon

Burntown
Jennifer McMahon
Fiction
Doubleday Books
May 2, 2017
Hardcover
336

On a brilliantly sunny summer afternoon, ten-year-old Miles Sandeski witnesses the murder of his mother as she sunbathes in their suburban backyard. When he emerges from a hidden play space to disrupt the crime, Miles scares off the killer, but he is left with a powerful clue that will compel him to pursue the murderer and seek an understanding of the horrifying event for decades. Years later, secretly aware of the killer's identity and what he is after, Miles will try to protect his teenage daughter from becoming the next victim--the murderer wants something, held within Miles' family in the small industrial New England town of Ashton, and will fatally pursue each generation for what's desired. Burntown unfolds as the story of Miles's daughter when she emerges from an incident intended to kill her, with a loss of memory and a total dislocation from the life she has known. Necco, as she comes to be known, embarks on a life as a kind of fugitive, hiding as an outsider in the town's abandoned corners--Ashton's underbelly, Burntown--reliant on kind strangers for her survival: a boyfriend who is himself a run-away, the mystical women known as "the fire eaters" who give her shelter in a camp by the river, practicing sooth and seeing through the altered reality of powerful herbs they call "The Devil's Snuff," Theo, a high-school senior who finds herself caught up in a romantic affair that compels her to sell drugs to students and teachers at Our Lady of Hope high school, and Pru, the cafeteria lady there, Theo's best customer, who dreams of being beautiful, talented, and adored in another life. The lives of these misfits--lost teens and adults--intersect in a crime that implicates them all, and as they flee the police and the real killer who continues to hunt Necco, a story unfurls that is edge-of-your-seat suspenseful with classic Jennifer McMahon twists and surprises.

My Thoughts:

I had a difficult time with this book.  I did not feel like it was as good as some of the other books I’ve read from Jennifer McMahon.  I loved The Winter People and The Night Sister, but I really felt like this book fell short.  The characters didn’t grab my attention and the storyline was a bit dull.  I enjoyed the idea of the story (without giving too much away), I just didn’t become immersed in it like I have in her other novels.  I wouldn’t say this read is bad, per say, just that it’s completely different from Jennifer McMahon’s style.  It’s definitely a different read and one I wasn’t quite expecting as a fan.

If you click to order through this Amazon link, then I get credit for referring you to this amazing book.

About the Author:

I was born in 1968 and grew up in my grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where I was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. I wrote my first short story in third grade. I graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and I decided to take some time to think about whether I wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, I wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with my partner, Drea, while we built our own house. Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness — I quit my last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, I gave birth to our daughter, Zella. These days, we’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings me immense pleasure.

Follow Jennifer McMahon on her website or Goodreads.

Truly,

 

 

P.S. Here goes my little disclaimer…

Thanks goes to Doubleday Books and Netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to review this book prior to publication. All opinions expressed in this review are solely mine and I did not receive any payment.

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