10:30 am EDT, April 14, 2017

‘Burner’ book review: A thrilling supernatural ride from start to finish

If you’re a fan of supernatural tales and/or gritty mysteries, then Burner, the first novel in J.S. Lenore’s new Affinity series, is a definite must-read.

About ‘Burner’ by J.S. Lenore

Homicide detective Kim Phillips isn’t like the other officers of the Chicago Police Department. She’s quiet, isolated, and she can speak with the dead. Born with the ability to see into and interact with the afterlife, she is a Burner: a person tasked with hunting down dangerous spirits and sending them to the other side.

When Kim exorcises the ghost of a young girl, she’s dragged into a new and unsettling case, one where people like Kim are being killed. The only problem? There’s no connection between the victims, and no proof that they were murdered in the first place. Kim has to catch the killer before he finds his last victim and unleashes an unknown evil on the world.

Burner, the first book in the Affinity Series, is a dark exploration of how life and death are only separated by a single breath and how even those with power can be powerless.

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Burner by J.S. Lenore

Related: J.S. Lenore talks Burner, an exciting new supernatural mystery

‘Burner’ book review

Mediums, secrets, bonded ghost partners, a supernatural twist on the city of Chicago… I didn’t know how much I needed the combination of these elements until I picked up J.S. Lenore’s Burner. And now? I need more. One of my Hypable associates named Burner as one of the most anticipated books of 2017 and it definitely lives up to that hype.

Burner is the type of book that draws you in from the first sentence. Instead of allowing the reader to slowly enter the world and take in the surroundings at a leisurely pace, the reader is dropped right in the middle of an action sequence on page one. The introduction gives the reader just enough information to understand the bare minimum of what’s going on in the scene, but in a way that really conveys the book’s tone, air of mystery, and the stakes from the get-go.

While all authors create their own worlds, it takes a talented writer like J.S. Lenore to create an entirely new mythology to go along with that world. The mythology in Burner is both complex and yet simple to understand. The details of the mythology unfold slowly but organically, leaving the reader wanting more but not necessarily needing more to understand what they just learned.

And wanting more you will be. The mythology has so many layers and connections to it (some of which are only hinted to by the end of the novel) that just when you think you understand it fully, new facets always come into focus. Because it’s tied so closely in with the book’s main mystery, the story becomes so much more than a “whodunnit.” To solve the mystery, you need to be able to piece together the mythology and see how everything connects. It’s this layered approach to the plot that makes this mystery novel really stand out.

Burner Trio

One of the things I loved most about this book is how much it doesn’t try to hide or downplay the gruesomeness of the murders. While it’s not overly gory or dark, the descriptions of the murders and crimes that occur are quite visceral. They’re not over-the-top but they add a certain reality to the story that would’ve been lost otherwise. I’m not usually one to champion graphic scenes or stories that have a lot of grit to them, but I couldn’t imagine this book without them.

Another strength of the book is its tone. While it’s in no way a happy-go-lucky story of hope, it’s not completely bleak or dark either. It’s the shadows, shades of grey, and combination of light and dark moments that make this book really (excuse my pun) shine. The main protagonist Kim is great at her job and has this beautiful relationship with her bonded ghost partner, but she’s also messy and dragged down by some pretty awful visions. Descriptions of the city itself range from beautiful to grimey. Burner effortlessly balances dark and light elements without ever faltering.

I have to say, though, that while I loved the stylistic elements of the novel (as well as the plot), it’s the characters that were my hands-down favorite aspect of the novel. Kim, Priya, and Cross are so wonderfully complex and expertly crafted that, by the time I reached the end of the novel, I felt like I knew them my whole life. I’m a big “characterization over plot” when it comes to books, movies, TV shows, etc. and I have to say that J.S. Lenore really allows her characters to shine while also advancing the plot. It’s honestly impossible not to love the trio in this book.

Burner is an engrossing read from beginning to end. The mythology, tone, plot, and characters mesh so well and create a world that you’ll just want to lose yourself in. This is one of those books that you’ll want to read in a single sitting because you won’t want to put it down. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy.

Burner by J.S. Lenore is available now. Want to get your hands on a physical copy while also helping spread the word about the series? Check out the Kickstarter campaign ASAP!

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