Adult Suspense

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

An intricately plotted psychological thriller with a touch of horror. Get ready for chills and so much more as mystery upon mystery unravels.

Chapel Croft is a tiny village with a charred history — 500 years ago, eight martyrs (including two young girls) were burnt to death. Descendants of the martyrs are hailed as heroes, and each year, the villagers commemorate the event by burning little stick figures. It’s tradition, and in Chapel Croft, you don’t mess with tradition.

Reverend Jack Brooks arrives in Chapel Croft with teenage daughter Flo to take on the job of interim vicar (the previous vicar hanged himself in the chapel *cue ominous pipe organ music*). Things went down at Jack’s last parish in the big city. The move wasn’t by choice, not really. Jack’s got a capital P past, we can tell. And even before daughter Flo spots the first headless burning girl (an apparition) in the churches’ graveyard (a portend that danger will befall her), the suspense is so sublime that the pages all but turn themselves.

We’re in for a bone-chilling ride with The Burning Girls. And it’s not just the supernatural horror element that Tudor seamlessly weaves into the plot. The story deftly explores the evil we know, evil not rooted in the paranormal: themes of bullying and parental neglect are cornerstones of the plot. As is the question of nature vs. nurture. Are some of us simply born evil? A lot is going on here, and all of it works together into a show-stopping finale. With the guarantee of at least one unexpected plot twist. 

Dark and twisted, this is one brilliantly crafted story.


Book: The Burning Girls
Published: Penguin
Pages: 384
Publication Date: January 21th, 2021
Stars: 4.5/5

Penguin Random House kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.


For more about great new books and inspiring authors, read The Penguin Post, a magazine from Penguin Random House South Africa.

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