I don't read very many books that are considered psychological thrillers, so I was initially on the fence about reading The Burning Air when it came my way, but something about it--very possibly the jacket blurb comparing its author, Erin Kelly, to a modern day Daphne du Maurier--tempted me to give it a try. Not only am I now glad that I did, but I'd highly recommend it to other readers who might also be ambivalent about thrillers. The novel's unexpected structure, both ambitious and beautifully executed by Kelly, is worth the price of admission alone, and lays the groundwork for a subtle, quiet, yet utterly mind-blowing twist.
Darcy Kellaway is an only child living a poor, isolated existence, home-schooled by an agoraphobic, anorexic mother whose only goal in life is for Darcy to win a coveted scholarship to the local private school. Although Darcy performs well on the school's exam and interview, the scholarship ultimately goes to another child. Darcy's mother is convinced that the school's head admission's officer, Rowan MacBride, corrupted the review process and awarded the scholarship to his own son, stealing away Darcy's rightful place. Her paranoia grows and infects Darcy, and the two spend the next fewyears waging an invisible, and increasingly bitter, campaign against the MacBride family, trying to find proof of Rowan's nepotism.
Fast forward twenty years. Rowan, mourning the recent death of his wife, gathers with his three grown children, their significant others, and his grandchildren at the family's country home to partake in the local village's bonfire night, a favorite MacBride tradition. Before the weekend is over, they'll be once again faced with Darcy Kellaway and become the victims of a long dormant revenge plan.
Although The Burning Air is the kind of book I could talk about all day, I'll leave it at that so as not to risk revealing too many details. This is a novel that you have to experience for yourself. (And once you do, leave a comment here or on Goodreads, to let me know what you think. I'm dying to talk more about this one!)
A copy of this book was provided to me by Penguin. All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.