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THE BURNING AIR by Erin Kelly Kirkus Star


by Erin Kelly

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-670-02672-2
Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Kelly has hit her stride in this third outing, a classic dark thriller combining suspense with gorgeous, evocative prose.

Told from the perspectives of four individuals, this story is British journalist Kelly’s third offering and by far her most inventive novel. Set in England, the tale involves a close-knit family named MacBride, whose members soon become the focus of a pathological mission to destroy them. It starts with Lydia, beloved mother of the clan and magistrate of the court, who is dying. Lydia confesses in one of the diaries she’s kept most of her life a deed so terrible and life altering that she realizes if her family reads it, the contents would forever change them. But she doesn’t plan on that happening since she intends to destroy all of her diaries before the end arrives. Meanwhile, the rest of the MacBride family continues on with their lives: Her disfigured son, Felix, once a happy and handsome child, brings a mysterious woman into their midst. Sophie, the oldest daughter and mother of three boys and a baby girl, struggles with her once-perfect marriage to Will. And Tara, mother of the mixed-race teen, Jake, seems to finally be happy with her boyfriend, Matt, a surrogate father to Jake. Rowan, the former schoolmaster, mourns his wife but takes great joy in his grandkids. And the entire group comes together at the traditional family getaway near a remote village, where cellphones won’t work and no electronics are allowed. It is there and in both Saxby and London that a tale of unreasonable, sustained hatred and revenge bubbles up, threatening to tear the happy family apart and leave them with a wound that will never heal. With writing so seductive and multiple voices that are pitch-perfect for the characters she’s created, Kelly shows that she is a writer who doesn’t need to keep repeating herself to stay in the game.

A book that will consume the reader as fully as the bonfire set by the novel’s characters.