Book Review: Angels Burning


ashley | I read Tawni O’Dell’s Back Roads a few years ago, back before obsessively reading was a regular thing in my life, so it was a big deal that the book really stuck with me. I don’t even remember how I came across it or why I read it, honestly I think one of the actors on Supernatural said it was his favourite book and that’s why I picked it up (embarrassing? Sure, but whatever, it connected me with something great). When I saw O’Dell was putting out Angels Burning, I immediately requested it through NetGalley. I knew I had to read this.

O’Dell writes with such darkness. It’s not horror, it’s not suspense, but the characters are horrific and they do horrific things to each other. And this is outside of the murder that is the focus of this book. The secrets and the lies and the general lifestyle that is uncovered in this small town, it’s downright horrific. I can’t think of a better word.

This was a disturbing story because of this, but one that was well written and complex and layered. There were a lot of things happening here, from Dove’s family secrets to the murder and all these different players in this small town, it’s the perfect little murder mystery full of dysfunction and unbelievable secrets. It keeps you on your toes throughout, it’s really hard to put all the pieces together, which I appreciate.

I really liked Dove as a character. She was pretty badass. She wasn’t by the book, often making emotional decisions that aren’t necessarily the best choice, but she was very human and had a good heart, despite. Her sister Neely I found intriguing. I especially liked how secluded and separate she had made her life, surrounded by dogs on an isolated farm. It created some great imagery and really added a nice contrast to Dove’s life, showing how different people deal differently in the face of family trauma. But it was their bond that I admired most. They lived separate lives but still allowed themselves to intertwine, the bond stronger than their past, stronger because of their past.

This is very much about family. About how they stick together or are torn apart depending on circumstances and how they deal with said circumstances. There’s a lot of guilt and jealousy and all those other ugly emotions that get stirred up in close families that experience terrible things. It was very emotion driven and I really loved it. It wasn’t a happy story but it was a kind if tragic beauty. Something that in the end, even after everything, there’s still a sense if humanity and empathy in these flawed characters.


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January 5, 2016

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