Thursday, June 1, 2017
"Burntown" Is Not "Beantown," Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the fourth Jennifer Mc Mahon book I have read. While I cannot wait for her next one--or to discover others I have not yet read--I must confess I had trouble with this one.
The exposition takes so long to get everyone in place that I was impatient for the story to begin. So, my advice to future readers of "Burntown" is to have patience. Wait until a character named Prudence Small comes into the story. Because, once she does, things take off.
The story is set in Ashford, Vermont, but, girls, I am telling you, Prudence and her circus fantasies, were this set in the South, would be straight out of Tennessee Williams.
The center of the story is a fictitious object--a machine that can talk to the dead--that defies any kind of narrative credibility. Part of the problem here is that McMahon gets fascinated with so many ideas she doesn't know which one to center on. Tennessee Williams, Victor Appleton, Trixie Belden--I had no idea what direction she would go in next, and with an over abundance (at least, I think) of characters.
Hannah and Jeremy are fascinating, especially Hannah. But they are just dismissed when their parts are finished. What happens to them is never explained.
I will not spoil the big Revelation, some of which I saw coming, except to say it all boils down to a "Six Degrees" type of situation. And one that is rather contrived.
"Burntown" crackles with suspense in its last 100 pages. But ultimately I find this the most disappointing of McMahon's books. The ghost of a child victim in a mill accident years before is mentioned, but never developed. There was too much I wanted to happen, but it didn't,
One thing McMahon has done right here is create one of her best characters, with Prudence Small. If she were to return in another book, I would not be adverse to that, at all!
Jennifer McMahon is always welcome on my book shelf. I hope her next work is more focused and engaging.