Title: The Burning Air
Author: Erin Kelly
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When Ronan MacBride rejects a student named Darcy Kellaway as a scholarship student for a fine British high school, he thinks that’s the end of it. After all, there’s someone more deserving, and not everyone can receive a scholarship. But what Ronan doesn’t realize is that Darcy is both smarter and more unbalanced than the average student and that this ordinary action will have repercussions far into the future that no one will be able to see coming.
The Burning Air is a psychological thriller with an incredibly gripping storyline. It starts ordinarily enough: the MacBride family is gathering at their house in the country to say goodbye to Lydia, their recently deceases matriarch. For Ronan, it’s his chance to let go of his beloved wife, and for Sophie, Felix, and Tara, it’s time to say goodbye to their mother. But what they don’t realize is that a stranger is lurking in their midst, one who has the darkest of intentions towards the MacBride family and will stop at nothing to crush them.
The book takes place in multiple time periods. In the present, it takes some time for the story to build, for the reader to understand that this is more than just a simple family drama. Then The Burning Air jumps back to the past, and tells Darcy’s story, and the reader comes to see just how damaged the boy is. His home life is unhealthy, to say the least, and the unfeeling, amoral person that blossoms in Darcy is quite frightening. Kelly does an excellent job with Darcy, making him monstrous yet utterly believable, and the time jumping works well to build suspense.
Along with the suspenseful nature of the novel, the relationships in The Burning Air are what make it worth reading. Kelly exhibits a profound understanding of difficult family dynamics; the complication relationships among the MacBride siblings, as well as with their spouses and parents are intricately drawn and very realistic. Additionally, Kelly writes a pulsing, tense atmospheric vein that runs through the entire novel, one that makes you certain that something bad is approaching. As a result, this is a suspenseful read you’ll want to read in one sitting.
If you’re looking for a mind-bending read, The Burning Air is a great choice. It’s explosive, yet quiet at the same time, about one sick person’s twisted desire for revenge. The most shocking part is the complete conviction Darcy has that he’s been wronged, the justification that goes through his mind for what he’s doing. It’s an incredibly written novel that would make a great book club pick, as readers will want to dissect each of the characters in this novel.
Other books by Erin Kelly: