Review: The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

Rating: 9.0/10

Synopsis

An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present–and intent on keeping its dark secrets–in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

Review

Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of The Burning Girls for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

The Burning Girls is a taut, unputdownable nail-biter of a story. A perfect blend of Stephen King and Harlan Coben with the style and panache that only Tudor can deliver. Another top-notch thriller from one of my favorite writers, and one I can definitely see lighting up Netflix in the next couple of years.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was pretending he didn’t exist.

You all know my love for C.J. ever since I cracked open the pages of The Chalk Man. She produces such unpredictable stories leaving cliffhangers at end of every chapter she writes. Her writing style just has a way of keeping you up late at night, devouring her works in single sittings and craving more MORE MOREEEEEEEEE.

With The Burning Girls, we are given a Coban-esque type thrill-ride where different POVs all play a role in the grander scheme, but just how much of a role is constantly being shifted behind the scenes. You think you have it all figured it and then BAM! DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING, DID YA? I love that about these books, and I think some of it is derived from years of watching Law and Order. Always attempting to figure out the “whodunnits” and “howdunnits” at the halfway point – 9 times out of 10 your choice is completely wrong – and then having that OH moment with 5-10 minutes to spare in the episode. But with Tudor’s novels, I’m blindsided at every turn and I LOOOOOOVE IT!

Tudor definitely upped the scale this go round by adding in more “dead end” avenues, on top of more stories within the story. Though, and I say this with a chuckle, all I could think about whilst reading was “The Greater Good” from Edgar Wright’s ‘Hot Fuzz’. Someone from the big city is uprooted and sent to a “quaint village” and tries to rile things up that shant be riled. I half expected people in cloaks to start chanting and then a massive firefight to ensue.

Low and behold, it didn’t happen. Sorry for the non-spoiler.

All in all, Tudor continues to get better and better and will always be at the top of my TBR when I see a new release coming soon. If you are a fan of hers, or maybe this is the first time you feel like trying one of her novels, you will not be disappointed.

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