ARC Review: Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

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With thanks to the author and NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Trigger Warnings:

Domestic abuse, gaslighting, neglect, blood, vomiting, gun violence, fires, burns


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.

My Review:

Burn Our Bodies Down was a wonderfully mysterious book that I was unable to put down! It’s not your typical “jump scare” horror novel… Its subtle creepiness is really what made my skin crawl while reading it. Something about the atmosphere had me unsettled and intrigued at the same time. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but let’s just say that Burn Our Bodies Down is unlike anything I’ve ever read, making it a very refreshing addition to the young adult genre.

To start, Rory Power did an excellent job at crafting a complex main character that readers were really able to understand and root for. Margot had a truly beautiful character arc– All of her emotions were so raw and vividly written that I felt like I was experiencing them along with her. Throughout the book, as Margot struggles to unearth the mysterious secrets of her family, I found myself wanting to know the truth as much as she did. When you can relate to a character on such a personal level, it really goes to show how amazing an author’s storytelling is!

Another thing I loved about this book– its portrayal of domestic abuse and gaslighting was astonishingly real. It broke my heart to see how the neglect and abuse Margot grew up with shaped her whole life. It was painful to watch how her mother’s cruelty and gaslighting made Margot question every aspect of her life and feel guilt over things that were in no way her fault. Margot’s mother constantly made everything about her own needs and framed her actions to make herself appear as the victim, resulting in a very toxic upbringing for Margot.

One last thing I want to comment on about this book is its sheer originality. Lately, I’ve felt myself straying away from the YA genre, as I’ve noticed a common pattern when it comes to plots, characters, and overall theme. Most of the YA books I’ve read within the past year just sort of blur together– There’s no stimulating originality to distinguish one from another. But Burn Our Bodies down makes a bold exception. Again, I won’t spoil it, but I’m not kidding when I say I’ve never read anything like it! This book seriously gives me hope for the future of the YA genre.

Overall, Burn Our Bodies down was an utterly fantastic read. Disturbing, heart-stopping, and mesmerizing, it is a book that you definitely won’t want to miss.

Overall Rating:

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