Rich with atmosphere, Burning by Danielle Rollins is a creepy and page-turning thriller about inner darkness and the power of redemption.
After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves when the world has forgotten them?
Described by the publisher as “Orange is the New Black” with a YA twist, Burning also reminded me in many ways of Nova Ren Suma’s stunning magic realism saga — also set in a female youth penitentiary — The Walls Around Us. I’d think fans of Pretty Little Liars and other mystery/thrillers would also enjoy this one!
Burning has a creepy, eerie feel to it — with the dull prison walls of Brunesfield richly described and brought to life through Angela’s narrative. The mood lends itself perfectly to the story as sparks of the paranormal begin to creep into what initially feels like a contemporary story — but as more and more strange things begin happening, it’s clear that there is more going on than meets the eye. Rollins does a masterful job of building the suspense, while slowly peeling back the layers of mystery — creating a true thriller that will keep readers guessing and eagerly turning the pages.
Rollins has also done the unexpected: she’s woven an incredibly sweet romance into a story that takes place in an all-girls penitentiary, without making it feel creepy or weird. It just … works, and as the reader, you want it to work out for the best. But as much as I enjoyed this part of the story, it was a side note to the bigger picture. The real focus is on Angela, why she was arrested, why she’s trying to get her to her release, and the mysterious new girl who threatens to change the entire landscape of Angela’s world — both inside and outside of the prison walls.
I’ll be honest, I did NOT see where this story was going — but I sure enjoyed the ride. Perhaps my only complaint is how open-ended the conclusion was — and I’m hopeful that means the author has a sequel in mind to bring the story full circle and tie up the many loose threads left dangling. (And if that’s the case – YEE-HAW! Sign me up, because that’s a ride I will gladly hop onto.)
Rich with description and mood, and an unexpectedly twisty plot, Burning is in stores tomorrow.