The Burning Girls

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 . . .

Our Review

The Burning Girls was outstanding. It isn’t even 2021 yet (for a few more hours) but I am already confident it will be one of my favourites of 2021.

Jack and Flo were forced to move from Nottingham to a remote rural village after some sort of scandal.

The Burning Girls starts with a Wikipedia article on ‘Burning Girls’. These are twig effigies found solely in the small Sussex village of Chapel Croft. These twig dolls are used to commemorate the Sussex Martyrs, a group of Protestants burnt at the stake for their religious beliefs. These burning girls are set alight in a ceremony every year.

The prologue begins with someone covering up a ritualised murder.

Next there is an article from Weldon Herald in 1990 on two missing Sussex teens Merry and Joy.

When we meet Jack she is talking to her superior Bishop Durkin.

“I’m pretty sure Bishop John Durkin does everything benevolently, even taking a shit…He’s also a wanker.

I know it. His colleagues know it. His staff know it. Secretly, I think, even he knows it.”

The character of Jack is humorous, not what you expect from someone in her position. She is not ‘fuddy’ at all.

Jack and her daughter Flo have a very close relationship, but Flo is not impressed with being moved to Chapel Croft.

When she arrives in Chapel Croft Jack is handed a box with her name on it and a quote from the bible in it.

“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

The box also has an exorcism kit and a bloody knife in it. What a welcome to the village!

From this point on I found it really hard to put down The Burning Girls. I was hooked.

The Burning Girls is written from the perspective of multiple people. One of these people is a murderous ex prisoner who is looking for someone from his past in Nottingham. I don’t think it is too much of a spoiler to say that he is clearly part of the reason why Jack doesn’t like to talk about her history with Flo.

Flo is not happy about moving to Chapel Croft until she meets Wrigley. He is just what she needs to make things a bit more interesting. She loves photography and his love of drawing means he knows of a creepy house that would be perfect for her to photograph.

Despite herself Flo can’t help looking him.

“Wrigley is weird, but weird isn’t necessarily bad. And, if it wasn’t for the strange twitching, he’d actually be kind of cute.”

The Burning Girls is genuinely creepy, not least when the reader discovers that the original burning girls were two real girls among the martyrs who local legend suggests often appear when the person who sees them is in trouble.

So when both Flo and Jack see the girls we know trouble is coming.

“A young girl stands a few feet away.

She’s naked. And on fire.

Orange flames flicker around her ankles and lick at her legs, blackening her skin and stretching up to her smooth hairless pubis. That’s how Flo knows it’s a girl. It would be hard to tell otherwise.

Because she is missing both her arms and her head.

An excellent and incredibly eerie read.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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