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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Riverdale meets Stephen King in the terrifying new thriller from the author of Harrow Lake. The town of Burden Falls drips with superstition, from rumors of its cursed waterfall to Dead-Eyed Sadie, the disturbing specter who haunts it. Ava Thorn grew up right beside the falls, and since a horrific accident killed her parents a year ago, she's been plagued by nightmares in which Sadie comes calling—nightmares so chilling, Ava feels as if she’ll never wake up. But when someone close to Ava is brutally murdered and she’s the primary suspect, she begins to wonder if the stories might be more than legends—and if the ghost haunting her dreams might be terrifyingly real. Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there's a killer on the loose . . . with a vendetta against the Thorns.…

Burden Falls

by Kat Ellis

Overall Book Review:

Do you love urban legends and unexplained phenomena? Do conspiracy theories keep you up at night? Are you a fan of horror and suspense? If you answered yes to any of those questions then I would highly recommend you get a copy of this book ASAP.

Ava Thorn hasn’t had a very easy life.  A year ago her parents were killed in a freak accident, leaving Ava alone and with the memories of her last moments with her mom and dad and of the car crash that killed them. Although Ava came out of the accident with some scars and nightmares, she is trying to put her life back together and heal as best she can. It comes as quite an unwelcome surprise to find that her uncle has had to make the difficult decision to sell the manor and land that Ava has called home because of financial difficulties.

When Ava finds out who will be living in her old home, it just makes matters worse. They have a bit of a history and it’s cringey to think of them eating in her dining room, sleeping in the bedrooms she and her parents used to occupy, and making themselves at home in the place she grew up. There is one thing she doesn’t envy them–and that is the rumors of what happened in the past on the land they now own.

Stories of the land being haunted by a girl with no eyes and a curse on Burden Falls, the waterfall that is on the land that the Thorn family previously owned never really worried Ava or her family, they were simply creepy stories passed down through generations. But once the land is owned by someone else, strange things begin to happen and it is unclear if something paranormal is going on or if someone is trying to stir up trouble. Ava had hoped that she had had her share of problems and would be in the clear for the near future, but recently she has been seeing things that are difficult to brush off as just her imagination, and then someone she knows dies and the death is ruled a murder. Ava doesn’t know anything about the suspicious death, and she certainly isn’t guilty of murder, but it’s looking like she may be the main suspect and even worse, have a motive.

Completely suspenseful!

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Dial Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  24 religious exclamations; 68 mild obscenities; 11 religious profanities; 2 derogatory names; 60 scatological words; 36 anatomical terms; 2 offensive hand gestures; 34 F-Word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  A report of a male falling from a bridge is made, a fall that is described as not being survivable; an accident is mentioned with no detail other than that severe injuries occurred; a mention is made that the protagonist’s parents are both dead; a creepy scene occurs where a girl thinks someone is following her, she recalls a story of witches casting spells; a scene occurs with a car accident described, three passengers roll in the hit car and end up upside down, a minor is mentioned to have cuts from broken glass and lots of blood, an adult woman is mentioned to have been in the passenger seat and the girl remembers hearing a snap of a collarbone, man driving is still alive but very injured and after the minor escapes the vehicle a tree falls on the car with the two already deceased adults inside; a minor comes across a supposedly dead girl in a creepy scene and describes the dead girl to have bloody gouges where her eyes should be; a brief scene occurs in school where a minor reports that their dad found a dead girl floating in water with hair tangled all around her face, which brings up rumors of a ghost that roams the grounds of a manor looking for her eyes that were gouged out in a grotesque ritual when she was murdered years ago; a report is made of a farmer finding sheep that he owned with their eyes missing, it is reported that the man died from a heart attack from the shock; a minor comes across a dead girl with a dark substance leaking out of her eyes and blood on her clothing in a brief creepy scene; a man slaps another man; a brief mention is made of how eyes might be removed from someone, possibly with an ice pick, this theory is later mentioned again; murders from long ago are brought up, mentioning a serial killer who dismembered women and left their body parts in trash receptacles; a brief creepy scene occurs where a girl thinks someone is chasing her; a story is mentioned of women years ago being murdered because they were thought to be witches; a report is made of a man being unable to work after his hand is mangled by farm equipment; a girl doesn’t realize she is hallucinating and sees several strange and scary things, such as scars from old wounds opening up and people watching her; a man is mentioned to have a black eye; a scene occurs where a boy almost drowns when he falls through ice on a body of water, he is rescued, but another boy is also pulled out who has already died and his lips are described to be blue; a scene occurs where a woman menacingly describes how she brutally killed her niece’s friend, the woman then makes threats and lunges at her niece; a dog attacks and bites someone who is attacking and attempting to kill a person; a house is set on fire while minors are known to be inside, destroying the house; a scene occurs where two minors crawl through a very tight space trying to escape smoke from the house fire; a woman stands on a bridge and eventually falls off of it to her death, blood is mentioned to be oozing down her face. 

Sex/Nudity:  Two girls are mentioned to be in a relationship and a male classmate makes lewd comments; it is implied that an older male teacher might be “into” his young female students; a minor overhears a classmate talking on her phone and possibly sending intimate pictures; sexting is mentioned; a minor male shows his female friend a funny photo of him attempting to lick his nipple; a minor mentions sending nudes to someone on their phone, later mentioned she might be swapping nudes with an older male; a girl visits her male friends house and knocks on his bedroom door before entering, though she mentions that he often changes his clothes in front of her and she has seen 99% of his body (in a non-sexual way); an uncle offers to buy his niece condoms; minors kiss in two brief scenes; messages from underage girls are mentioned to have been found on an adult males phone; a girl accuses a man of having an affair with a minor; child porn is mentioned in no detail.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death; loss of parents; witchcraft; ghosts; murder.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Mention of a room smelling like pipe smoke; a man is described as being drunk; minors are mentioned to have stolen alcohol from the family cellar; a minor is described as hungover; cocktails are consumed by adults; a minor is described to sound like he smokes; illicit smoking or huffing aerosols is mentioned; a minor is asked if he is high and he admits that he did smoke a little weed to help with anxiety; a man is mentioned to drink more after a traumatic event; a man is mentioned to go to rehab; an adult offers to buy booze for a minor.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.