reviews

The Burning

The Burning – Laura Bates

Let me start with an accurate representation of me spotting that this was a thing:

What’s this you say? A YA fiction book by founder of Every Day Sexism, Laura Bates? Sign me up.

 

And here were have an accurate representation of me being notified that I had bee approved for an early copy on Netgalley:

Basically, here are a few reasons as to why you should read this book:

  1. It’s Laura Bates
  2. It is a contemporary and very British story about sexism among teenagers
  3. There are witches in it. Yes. Really.
  4. And a cat.
  5. Also Laura Bates wrote it.

A rumour is like a fire. You might think you’ve extinguished it but one creeping, red tendril, one single wisp of smoke is enough to let it leap back into life again. Especially if someone is watching, waiting to fan the flames
New school.
Tick.
New town.
Tick.
New surname.
Tick.
Social media profiles?
Erased.
There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.
At least that’s what she thinks … until the whispers start up again. As time begins to run out on her secrets, Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a local girl accused of witchcraft centuries earlier. A girl whose story has terrifying parallels to Anna’s own…
The compelling YA debut from Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project and bestselling author of Girl Up.

Ok, so if you haven’t guessed it by now, I am a bit admirer of Laura Bates. In case you weren’t aware, she is the founder of Everyday Sexism and idk about you but watching that twitter feed grow and give a voice to women all over the world so they have a chance to call out misogyny is pretty awesome.
She’s also written some non-fiction – both of which deal with gender equality and calling out problematic behaviour in society that perpetuates these issues. These are the themes you’ll also find in The Burning because although taking down the patriarchy is an admirable vocation it is important to make your message accessible and well… fiction is way more popular.

There are moments that this story is just as harrowing as some of the anecdotes shared via Everyday Sexism. It certainly isn’t fun, light read and I should point out that there are trigger warnings for bullying and sexual assault.

This is Anna’s story. She is a teenager who after an incident at school finds herself alone and the victim of cyber bulling, so she and her mum relocate to Scotland where she finds herself once again dealing with social media trolls, slut shaming and all of this set against the backdrop of a school project into local witchcraft, the persecution of the witches being aptly used to illustrate the relentless hounding of young women in the modern day.
It is an important story that shows how people can be affected by online bullying and sexual assault. It talks very candidly about the every day sexism that young women have to deal with and are forced to accept as the norm, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them.

The story is well paced and the secrets are revealed in good time, which leaves your curiosity satisfied even if you remain sympathetic to Anna and her plight. The historical and vaguely supernatural elements were a nice touch and I liked how Maggie and Anna’s experiences complemented each other, though it is sad that hundreds of years later, books like this still need to be written.

I really enjoyed this and it was nice to have some British YA for a change, though in some places I did feel like the message was being hammered in a little too much, some subtly wouldn’t have gone amiss. Overall though, this was a solid book and I look forward to more fiction from Laura Bates in the future!

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