Today, I want to start this week off by talking about the book that’s been haunting me since I finished last Monday… BURN OUR BODIES DOWN by Rory Power.
This book is Powers’ second novel. Earlier in the year, I reviewed her debut novel WILDER GIRLS, which you can find here. WG stuck with me for months after I finished it, and I just know BOBD will be the same way. That’s the kind of writer Powers is, and I love it. I’ve already shelved her next two books (one of which isn’t even done being written yet, according to her social media) as TBR because god, I love her work. BOBD was actually the first book I ever preordered!
BOBD is another standalone novel, following 17 year old Margot Neilsen through the corn fields of Phalene Nebraska as she tries to uncover her family history. See, Margot and her mom, Josephine, are the spitting image of each other. Everything, right down to the premature graying of their hair, is identical. But their relationship is strained in their tiny, cramped apartment in Calhoun, where Jo teaches Margot to always keep a fire burning with a lit candle. Margot reaches her breaking point, and when one day she finds the missing clue to what came before Mom, she runs away to Phalene to find her grandmother, Vera Neilsen and her farm. When Margot arrives on the farm to find a fire raging and the dead body of a girl who looks just like her, she’s sent on a whirlwind mission to discover the truth about Neilsen women and what Gram is hiding.
Just like with WG, this book masterfully incorporates biology and frightening body horror into Margot’s coming of age story. The twist, while somewhat predictable, still hits you like a gut punch. Those last five or so chapters will haunt me for weeks to come, I’m sure.
There are comprehensive trigger warnings for this book available on Powers’ website, but here are the bits that got to me that may cause others distress: body horror, gore, blood, emotional abuse.
The first chapter alone, where we see Margot’s first fight on the page with Jo, had my chest feeling tight and my eyes blinking back tears. This was a fight I’ve had—that I’m sure many people have had—and to see it on the page so clearly was really something else. I felt for Margot like I’ve never felt for a main character before.
I flew through this book in about four days and finished it last Monday. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, no hesitation. Everyone should pick up this book—if they can stomach it. I’ll be anxiously waiting on Twitter for Rory Power to announce a preorder for her next book and warily eyeing corn for the foreseeable future, if anyone needs me.