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.
Alright, it’s time to freak out about Burn Our Bodies down! I was a huge fan of Wilder Girls and I was seriously looking forward to anything else Power might write. So much so, that I was pretty much jumping up and down when I was standing in front of the booth at ALAMW and shouting that it was about corn. Yeah, I was very much looking forward to this book haha. Trigger warnings: fire, emotional abuse, death, vomiting, gun violence (off page), gore
Wilder Girls was green, wet, and haunting. Burn Our Bodies Down is red, sunburned, and unnerving. Both of them are incredible. It’s amazing that we get to live in a world with two weird, complicated, and uncomfortable Rory Power books. Basically, this book blew me away and is all kinds of incredible.
This book is weird and unnerving. It made me uncomfortable, but in a good way. It has such a unique feel to it. It’s like the book knows something you don’t and it’s very much enjoying planting the seeds to make you unnerved. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s feels orange, it feels like apricot juice that’s gone kind of bad. It feels like dry heat and it feels like the setting sun coming through the windows.
I guess I’ll just start with the plot because I could talk about it all day. It was very, very good. THE APRICOTS. AND THE CORN. It’s so smart and so well executed. There are small hints placed so gently in front of you, but aren’t quite connected until just the right moment. I usually get frustrated with this kind of foreshadowing, but it works so well in this instance. Power doesn’t leave a single detail unnoticed. She makes sure everything is accounted for.
I kind of want to talk about how shocking everything was, but I feel like that’s kind of a given and kind of understating it. There were multiple times where “what the heck” was just running through my head. There were multiple times where I was flabbergasted at what was happening. There were multiple times where I couldn’t believe the brilliance of what was happening. Power writes in such a way where I couldn’t see how everything could connect, but when everything is explained, it fits so neatly together and makes perfect sense. It’s all kinds of incredible.
This book also carries complicated emotions, complicated relationships, and complicated family dynamics. It takes a long, close look at generational trauma. Margot wants to find out where she belongs in the world and who she belongs too. The answers she finds are not the answers she wanted. Her emotional journey was one that was so full and so well done. It spans the entire book and it just hits every single beat it tries too, at the exact right time.
I fell in love with Margot. It was gradual, and before I knew it, I was completely in love with her. I loved her mind. I just loved her as a whole. She was a fantastic character and such a great narrator for this story. She was also a lesbian! Though, that was not the main part of her story, but I love casually queer characters.
There were also lots of side characters, who I thought were just side characters, but they all actually have their own special role. It was a cool dynamic. I ended up liking them all a whole lot more than I thought I was going to.
Gosh, I want to find the right words to describe how amazing this book is, but I’m not sure if those words exist. It was horrifying, it was gut wrenching, it was uncomfortable, it was unnerving, it was incredibly smart, and it was so well executed. I want to talk about every single thing this book offered, but that delves into spoiler territory. Just know that this book is all kinds of incredible and I will still read whatever Power decides to write.
Thank you for reading!