THE BURNING AIR by Erin Kelly
52 Books in 2013 Challenge: #46; Finished October 14th 2013
This was the second book by Erin Kelly I’ve read, and the third she book she’s wrote. I read her first novel, The Poison Tree, only a few months ago and I’ve mostly forgotten what it was about now, though at the time I gave it a solid four stars. Is my reading comprehension bad? Do I just read too many books to remember each one by name and author alone? I think the problem is I just maybe rate too high, giving enjoyable readable books high stars despite the lack of character depth that comes with books that I often associate with book that keep coming back to me. So, anyway, all that’s to say, I gave this book three stars even though it’s better than The Poison Tree because I think it awaits the same forgettable fate.
This novel is equally/more so readable and enjoyable then her first novel. It hosts a huge cast of characters and they’re mostly defined and easily differentiated from one another. It’s also a story that really ought to be discovered slowly with as little given away as possible, so with that in mind: it tells the story of the MacBride family, a privileged English family, after the death of the matriarch, who, upon her deathbed, wrote out a confession of some sort on which the story hinges, though we aren’t privy to the details.
Ultimately this book is about obsession and grudges as much as it is about the ripple effects of decisions. It’s also about living with the consequences of your decisions and the directions that can take different people. It’s a mystery novel that unfolds in a way that allows the reader to think they’re in step with the author only to be knocked down again and put back in the dark.
She writes it in a similar style as many books of this genre: alternating narrators and time periods. However, unlike all the Gone Girl's of the lit scene right now, it does not alternate between chapters. Instead, the book is broken into three large sections each narrated by a different main character and two smaller sections at the beginning and end. This style works in favor of the story, especially when everything you think you know is shifted in the middle of the novel. This style then lends itself to allowing you the reader to believe you have the advantage of knowledge post this point, which, of course, you don't.
Ultimately, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of redemption at the bottom of this book. I truly loved the characters and loved hating the ones who deserved it and I wanted more for them. I closed it feeling a bit empty but not in the hollowed out, saddened way I feel when I finish a Tana French novel but just sort of spent, wishing I could spend a little more time with this family, that I — with my outsider perspective — could help mend and maybe undo.