Book Review: BURNER by Robert Ford

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a lifelong fan of horror, it’s this: the scariest monsters are human. While I enjoy the thrill of a scare from supernatural beings, the fear induced by real life scenarios is the most threatening. This type of fear has an unsettled, lingering effect, and is a key player in some of the most haunting stories I’ve read. Burner is one of these stories.

I’ve known that Bob Ford is a gifted storyteller since I first laid eyes upon his work, so I had high expectations for this one, and I was not disappointed. This novel is difficult to read at many points in the story, due to the subject matter, and while there were times that I wanted to turn away from the horror, I couldn’t set it aside. I had deep empathy for the characters because Ford is one of the best when it comes to character development.

The pacing is excellent, and I loved the setup of the chapters. The focus of the story alternates between two main characters’ experiences, and also goes back and forth between past and present. While this can sometimes be difficult to follow, it’s not an issue in this case. Again, it’s another aspect that showcases the author’s skill at storytelling.

I’m not sure there is much else I can tell you that hasn’t already been said. In short, this is a story that shows how quickly one’s life can change—in the blink of an eye our world can be turned upside down. It shows how we don’t always know others as deeply as we think, and how circumstances and trauma can change a person. While I was appalled at many of the characters’ actions in this story, I also recognized the fact that we’re all capable of becoming monsters ourselves. This book also opened my eyes to many things I wasn’t aware of—scary stuff that goes on in the real world—and it was truly frightening. In my opinion, Burner will remain a standout in the collection of Ford’s work for years to come.

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