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.
I’ll admit that I picked up Burn Our Bodies Down solely because of the cover, and didn’t read the synopsis before starting. Even if I had, though, there’s no way that I could have predicted how the story unfolded – it was slow to build, with the supporting characters growing more and more unsettling as we got to know them better, and the midwest farm setting added a lot to the creepy atmosphere. It’s more of a psychological thriller than an outright horror story, and I could easily see this working as a movie.
None of the characters were particularly likeable, especially Margot’s family. The mother-daughter relationship was incredibly fraught – it was very toxic, and the amount of gaslighting that Margot faced was hard to read. I won’t say too much more so as to avoid spoilers, but it was fascinating to see the relationships change as the family secrets unraveled.
Overall, Burn Our Bodies Down was an eerie, atmospheric and enthralling read. I had absolutely no idea what was going on for the first 2/3 of the story, and the twists kept me guessing right up until the end. I can’t wait to read what Rory Power writes next.