Monday, July 03, 2017

There's a place in the sun that she's never been: BURNTOWN.

BurntownBurntown by Jennifer McMahon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a child, Miles watched in horror as his mother was murdered before his very eyes. Despite that awful event, Miles grew up into a well-respected professor, as well as an inventor. He married his wife, Lily, and they had a family, daughter Eva and son Errol. Miles loves to tinker in his workshop while Eva watches and assists. Miles best invention, however? A machine built off plans supposedly from Thomas Edison and handed down to Miles: it allows you to speak with your deceased loved ones. But Miles' hard-fought happy adult life ends when a terrible storm hits his family home: at the same time, the machine turns itself on, warning them of danger. Shortly after, Eva awakes and is told by Lily that Miles and Errol are dead. Their home has been lost in the "Great Flood," and they can never return. Eva reinvents herself as Necco, and she and her mother find a new life among the homeless of Burntown. But then Necco's mother dies and a series of events shows that Necco is in grave danger. What exactly happened the night of the Great Flood? And will Necco ever be safe again?

The premise of this book probably sounds absurd, but please, don't let it deter you. I've read a handful of McMahon's books over time now and liked them all, but I really, really enjoyed this book. Many of her books have a blend of paranormal, fantasy, etc., and this one was no exception, expertly weaving in fantasy and supernatural flavors into a surprisingly riveting mystery.

The novel starts off a bit convoluted--there are a lot of narrators--and you have to suspend your disbelief at times for the plot to work, but it's really worth it. Necco is a wonderful character, and she's surrounded by this intriguing group of people, including Pru, a cafeteria lady/circus fanatic; Theo, a high school student finding her way; and Mr. Marcelle, a delivery man who helps out his private investigator brother. McMahon seamlessly weaves together these characters--and many more--into a mesmerizing tale that is part ghost story, part mystery, part love story. I honestly couldn't put this book down: I stayed up late to finish it.

This novel isn't your usual mystery or your usual supernatural tale, but it's certainly worth reading if you like one or both genres. There's a sweetness to it, as well as a completely compelling plot that will pull you in immediately.

You can read my review of McMahon's novel, THE NIGHT SISTER, here.

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