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Blog Tour Review - A Power Unbound by Freya Marske

 Blog Tour Review - A Power Unbound by Freya Marske Secrets! Magic! Enemies to. . .something more? Jack Alston, Lord Hawthorn, would love a nice, safe, comfortable life. After the death of his twin sister, he thought he was done with magic for good. But with the threat of a dangerous ritual hanging over every magician in Britain, he’s drawn reluctantly back into that world. Now Jack is living in a bizarre puzzle-box of a magical London townhouse, helping an unlikely group of friends track down the final piece of the Last Contract before their enemies can do the same. And to make matters worse, they need the help of writer and thief Alan Ross. Cagey and argumentative, Alan is only in this for the money. The aristocratic Lord Hawthorn, with all his unearned power, is everything that Alan hates. And unfortunately, Alan happens to be everything that Jack wants in one gorgeous, infuriating package. When a plot to seize unimaginable power comes to a head at Cheetham Hall―Jack’s ancestral fam

Review - The Burning by Laura Bates

Review - The Burning by Laura Bates

A rumour is like a fire. You might think you’ve extinguished it but one creeping, red tendril, one single wisp of smoke is enough to let it leap back into life again. Especially if someone is watching, waiting to fan the flames ...

 New school.

Tick.

New town.

Tick.

New surname.

Tick.

Social media profiles?

Erased.

 There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.

 At least that’s what she thinks … until the whispers start up again. As time begins to run out on her secrets, Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a local girl accused of witchcraft centuries earlier. A girl whose story has terrifying parallels to Anna’s own…



The Burning is breathtakingly powerful!

Anna is running away from something, leaving Birmingham with her mum to start a new life in Scotland. I enjoyed the little hints about what had come before from the start, just enough to let the readers know that it was something that turned her life around, made school hell and lost her her best friends. It all sets it up really well for the almost inevitable reveal, when her past mistakes follow her to Scotland. 

The groundwork is laid well. The school hierarchy is set out, showing us a rather malicious group of boys who are ready to spread rumours, whisper and torment girls who they see as too easy or too frigid. and then Anna's world comes crashing down as her old identity is revealed along with the nude pictures she sent to a boy she liked at her old school, pictures that he circulated as the rumours and gossip and backlash descended upon her. Just when she thought she'd gotten away from it all, it all happens again, with a malicious viciousness that is truly upsetting.

There are so many elements that are all worked together so skilfully. Most of the abuse happens online, which means that Anna can't escape it. She can leave school, but those pings on her phone follow her wherever she goes, and I thought it really portrayed the opposing feelings of not wanting to see what people are saying but not being able to look away so well. Sometimes we know something is going to be painful to see, but we can't help but look anyway. Sometimes imagining it is worse than actually seeing it, but sometimes not and we just end up scrolling and torturing ourselves again and again. The Burning really nailed that destructive impulse.  Then, having seen all of this, she has to face school, and the more subtle, insidious abuse. The whispered comments, the stares, the thrown notes, the huddled groups that she just knows are talking about her, and the knowledge that they've all seen her at her most vulnerable. Linked intrinsically into it all is her grief over the death of her father and the strain this all puts on her relationship with her mother.

Threaded throughout the book is another narrative, the fate of a woman burned as a witch in the 1650s. I appreciated how the research project was used to give Anna a focus for her energies, an output through all of her anxiety and fear, but it did something so much more powerful than that. Maggie's punishments really forced home the point that this isn't a new phenomenon. Women aren't suddenly facing this slut shaming because of social media,. though that has no doubt had an impact. It's something that's been happening for a long time. The shape of it may have changed, but the base behaviours have always been there.

This is such a powerful, such a vital book! The blurb from Holly Bourne says that it is a book every teenage girl needs to read. I'd totally agree, but I think more teenage boys should read it too. They're the ones who need to learn about the impacts of their actions, the consequences of their behaviour, and how easily and cruelly it can harm the girls around them. Yes, we need to teach our daughters about the dangers of sharing nude pictures, and how nothing on the internet truly goes away, but I think this is a conversation that should start with our sons.

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The Burning by Laura Bates is out now, published by Simon and Schuster UK.

I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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