Review: Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power // VBC Review

Burn Our Bodies Down
Rory Power
Published: July 7, 2020 (Delacorte Press)
Purchase at: Amazon or Bookshop
Review Source: Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

For seventeen years the only family Margot has known is her aloof mother. Whenever she tries to push the subject of family, her mother closes herself off more than she does on a regular day. When Margot comes across photo of her mother as a child with an inscription on the back written in an elegant hand, she thinks she finally has what she’s yearned so much for: a grandmother.

Margot is tired of being on her own, and she’s tired of struggling, so she runs away to the small town of Phalene. It’s clear, by the whispers that follow Margot around town, that her grandmother, and her family name, have a long history in Phalene. But as Margot becomes more acquainted with the town and her grandmother, she begins to question why her mother left in the first place, and what caused her to keep her distance. Now, she’ll have to question if being loyal to that family name is worth the consequences.

Burn Our Bodies Down is a slowly-unfolding family saga told completely through the eyes of Margot. As a reader, looking in from the outside, you know that things are not right in Phalene and in her grandmother’s house. Even Margot acknowledges something is off with the dying land and the bleeding crops, but the heartbreaking way she longs for someone to love her unconditionally overshadows all common sense.

I think that Rory Power did a great job of making Margot’s solitary life so stark that even when she’s around other characters and forming what could blossom into friendships, she holds herself apart. That loneliness also ups the ante on the thrilling side to the narrative. Who does Margot trust? Who can she go to for help? It’s such a contrast with Power’s previous book the Wilder Girls where even though it’s kind of an “everyone for themselves” mentality, there are still groups and bonds that form. Here, it’s solely on Margot’s shoulders to carry everything.

I’m also a big fan of family histories and how the past has such a hold and influence on us. Are we destined to keep on the same path as our forbearers or can we change the cycle? It’s a definite theme running throughout as Margot unpacks her mother’s past.

So far Power is two for two and has become an auto-read author for me. With Burn Our Bodies Down she’s delivered another haunting read full of grotesque beauty. Read her work just for her absolute wonderful way with words and imagery, but stay for the thought-provoking stories. Power writes books that stay with you long after finishing, but also have you anticipating what she can come up with next.

Sexual Content: None

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