THE BURNING by Laura Bates


Age Range: 14 & up
Email this review


A victim of misogynistic bullying finds strength in the story of a 17th-century accused witch.

When Anna and her mother move to the small Scottish town of St. Monans, they’re trying to escape both their grief over Anna’s father’s death and their horror at the severe slut-shaming she experienced at her old school. Anna hopes for a fresh start, but she’s haunted by fear of her past—until someone else’s past finds her instead. Anna discovers a mysterious necklace in their new home and begins experiencing memories that aren’t her own, drawing her to the story of a local woman who was ostracized and accused of witchcraft after having a baby out of wedlock. This gentle touch of the supernatural emphasizes how little misogynistic vitriol has changed over the years, as painful descriptions of the bullying Anna endures are interwoven with flashbacks to her counterpart’s public shamings. A halfhearted romance feels forced, but the core of Anna’s story will be viscerally recognizable to any young reader who’s experienced cyberbullying or revenge porn. As Anna tells her tormentors, as she stands in solidarity with other girls who’ve been victimized: “You can call me a prude, and you can call me a whore, but really you’re just calling me a girl.” One of Anna’s new school friends is coded as black; other major characters are white.

A haunting rallying cry against sexism and bullying. (discussion questions) (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 7th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-72820-673-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2020