Welcome to my review for The Burning Girls by C J Tudor. Many thanks indeed to Gaby Young and Penguin Michael Joseph for my blog tour space and copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I am keen to be on this tour because I loved C J Tudor’s The Taking of Annie Thorne which came out last summer. I am not disappointed! A fantastic spine chilling thriller; it’s darkly menacing and utterly compelling. The Burning Girls is out now in hardback and ebook.
Review The Burning Girls by C J Tudor – My Thoughts
I genuinely love everything about this book: the writing, characterisation, plot, atmosphere, dialogue and even the pop culture references. It’s a gripping read so I found it difficult to put down. Having read only two novels by this author, I’m going to read the other two: The Chalk Man, and The Other People.
The story opens with Rev Jack Brooks and daughter Flo moving to a parish in Chapel Croft, Sussex. It’s an intriguing location because it’s the site where 500 years ago, eight martyrs were burnt to death. Each year, the villagers burn straw dolls in their memory. That’s not Chapel Croft’s only haunting event though; because 30 years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. On arrival, Brooks also learns that the vacancy arose because two months ago, the previous vicar committed suicide. If that’s not the perfect construct for a chilling mystery, I don’t know what is!
Rev Brooks wants the fresh start to go well for her and Flo, but it’s not as simple as just getting the villagers onside. Brooks receives sinister messages, whilst Flo has visions of burning girls which local superstition suggests is a bad omen. As the story progresses, Brooks tries to find out more about the missing girls and what happened to the last vicar, uncovering more mystery in the process. The plot has a good pace with a bit of variation in it which I find keeps my attention well engaged. There is also a magnificent twist at the end which I absolutely did not see coming.
Setting and Characterisation
The setting for the novel is a quiet Sussex village in summer. The heat is oppressive and the events seem somehow more malevolent than had they taken place during a cold, dark winter. The village is rural and isolated which also adds to the claustrophobic feel. I really liked the characters, especially protagonist Jack Brooks. The reverend is likeable, funny and down to earth. All of the characters are well developed and realistic, the slow reveal as we get to know them better, feels natural and works really well here.
Do visit the other stops on this blog tour, listed below.
Cover Blurb – The Burning Girls
500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide
Welcome to Chapel Croft.
For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.
And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.
Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.
Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?
Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.
But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .
If you’d like to have a go at making your own straw doll, the instructions I used are here. To learn more about the Sussex Martyrs check out this website. If you’ve enjoyed the review for The Burning Girls and it sounds like your sort of book, you might also like The Puppet Show, a police procedural thriller which also has a strong theme of fire.