Review: The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

18th March 2013

Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

*This book was sent to me by the publisher Pamela Dorman Books in exchange for an honest review.

Of course it was my love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgment. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realized the extent of the consequences, it was too late….

Motherhood was my only excuse. I was trying to do right by my son and it made me momentarily blind to the interior laws I have always tried to live by. We all want the best for our children, but I crossed the line between protection and offense.

Lydia MacBride has kept a diary every year, commemorating events large and small, noting her thoughts, her dreams, her confessions. The Burning Air begins with one of her greatest confessions: she is dying, and she has not told her family, but there is an even larger secret she must keep from them.

Close-knit and supportive, the MacBrides must move on after the death of Lydia. She was a force to be reckoned with, but the privilege of their lives – private school, family, a lovely home – has created unknown enemies. On an annual trip to Far Barn, a family residence in the secluded English countryside, one enemy in particular has waited for this moment, has crafted its circumstances, and will threaten the MacBrides and their memories.

A tale of obsession and misguided hatred, The Burning Air by Erin Kelly is a great thriller with an oddly intoxicating villain. Though the narrative shifts between characters to build suspense and divulge only what is known to each, the unreliable narrator is by far the most interesting. The megalomania is fascinating to consider but terrifying to behold.

However, the culmination of years of planning was too rushed and didn’t seem fitting of a truly obsessive enemy. I am being intentionally vague here because there were moments in The Burning Air where I gasped with recognition and knowledge of who the villain was and how it would all play out. A single-sitting read, The Burning Air by Erin Kelly was a fast and electric read with only a mildly disappointing ending.

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

  • Adding it to my TBR!

    • I’m anxious to read more of her. I’ve heard good things.

  • I’ve read mixed reviews of this one but I do appreciate a good, one-sitting read every now and then. You did a nice job of keeping it all vague.

    • Thanks! It’s tough to be vague but still try and tell a bit about it. I had mixed feelings, so I can definitely see that. It was a perfect Friday night read for me, though. It was only after I finished that part of me went, “Huh?”

  • I’m halfway through this one and eager to finish it. I love Erin Kelly’s work and I’ve never been disappointed. I’m eager to see if this will hold up, especially based on your review!

    • I haven’t read any of her other books, but I’m eager to because everyone on Goodreads has good things to say.

      • The Poison Tree is my favorite, although I think The Burning Air might be edging it out…I finished it and I really liked it. I did see where it could have felt rushed, though.

        • Ok, I have a question for you. Did you, at first, do a double take at the sex of the villain? Or did I totally miss something in my reading? I couldn’t tell if it was intended or not, but either way, I was pretty surprised.

          • Yes! I am glad I was not the only one. I got about halfway done with the villain’s POV before I realized my misinterpretation. I think there was a gendered pronoun or some kind of reference that made me reconsider.

          • Oh, good. I flipped back trying to find if I had missed something, but it was pretty ambiguous. All I know is, it definitely “got” me. I gasped when I figured out who it actually was.

  • I read Erin Kelly’s The Poison Tree last year and absolutely loved it; I’ve been meaning to read more of her work and haven’t gotten to it. Would be interesting to see how her work has evolved.

    • That’s the one I keep hearing about. I’ll have to grab it soon.

  • Okay, am suuuuuuuuuuuper excited now — Kelly is totally new to me,but got this randomly in the mail a few weeks ago. Can’t wait.

    • I think you’ll likely enjoy it. I’m so curious to talk to someone who’s read it because there’s a section in there that I wonder if it was purposeful or just my own reading of it. Regardless, it was suspenseful.

  • Hmmm, now I’m torn! Read or not read? Great story but mildly disappointing ending? But then again, I liked Gone Girl and had no issue with the ending and others HATED it, so maybe I’ll love the ending!

    • I certainly don’t regret reading it. And it wasn’t so much disappointing as…rushed? You really get to know the villain, so the ending felt a bit off, but I can’t say any more without giving it away!