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Nikki's Journal
By Nikole Hahn, Chino Valley, AZ
Book reviews, journaling, interviews and guest posts from authors, special columns like the latest, "Touring Arizona Coffee Houses: Havens for Writers," etc.
Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: The Burning Air

Nikole Hahn

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly brilliantly writes a twisted, obsessive, and unpredictable chiller that returns you near the end to the opening scene through the eyes of the villain. You can't read fast enough to hungrily devour Kelly's words and your muscles tense as the villain is revealed in its true form.

The MacBrides are saturated in wealth. Rowan MacBride is the head of a local prestigious school. The school is where Heather Kellaway wants her son, Darcy to attend. Heather is a psycho anorexic who justifies her abuse of Darcy. Darcy works hard with his mother's help to pass the necessary tests and interviews to get into the school on a special scholarship. However, someone else gets the scholarship.

Heather puts it in Darcy's mind that one of Rowan's sons got the scholarship. Somehow it is the MacBrides' fault that Darcy did not qualify. Darcy obsessively stalks the MacBride family, breaking into their home, and shadowing their children to find evidence of the dishonesty. Things change for Darcy when a mugging is interrupted and Lydia falsely claims she saw Darcy mugging the person. The mystery is resolved at the police station, but not before Heather dies in the midst of frantically trying to get to her son in spite of her state of health. Heather's death pushes Darcy over the edge.

The MacBrides move on with their life as Darcy is not seen or heard from again. In the opening scene, the suspense builds. At first, I thought it was a letter written by Lydia, Rowan's wife, but in the beginning chapter we discover Lydia died from cancer. Later, I discovered the perceived letter was actually an incriminating page from her diary. Kelly commands the plot well, building tension and suspense on every page, and when the villain is revealed you will be left in shock. It's unexpected and creepy. Darcy has been there all the long, but the MacBrides (or you) don't notice until they are in mortal danger.

But I protest how the novel ended. It violated my sense of right and wrong and leaves us drowning in the grays. I gave this novel five stars anyway because I could not put it down.

*Book given by publisher to review.

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