Jo's Reviews > Burn Mark

Burn Mark by Laura Powell
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Jun 13, 12

bookshelves: for-review, hometown-glories-uk, own, ya, hometown-ya, 2012
Read from March 27 to April 08, 2012

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while now and it’s because I’ve not really been able to sort my thoughts out. What is it with these British authors who make me think about their books?
Gawwwd.

I’ve had trouble with paranormal books before and I often avoid them like I would avoid a zombie. Or you know, minus the hysterical screaming and basically causing a nuisance to everyone who is involved. They’re just not my thing. But something about this book really interested me. Witches, in London? IN GANGS? Seriously, doesn’t that sound brilliant?
I always like to get the negative stuff out of the way when I review books, so I’m going to try and sort out how I felt about this one. I have to warn you though, it’s going to be a bit difficult because the main problem I had with this book is actually my favourite thing about.
I understand that makes no sense.

OK the thing that I simultaneously loved and disliked about this book: the world building.

Let me attempt to explain. This book is Shameless with witches…. Well, except it’s set in London. One of my main issues with paranormal books or, actually, any books where odd things happen, is how authors tend to insist that these paranormal beings are secret and no one knows about them. Chances are this would never happen. I know we mere mortals are a bit oblivious but come on… I mean, if there were werewolves running around Manchester, I’d like to think I was on the ball enough to notice, right? In this book, however, witches exist and everyone knows about them and their existence is woven into daily life. For better or worse.

Obviously, selling the idea that witches exist in London where they have public burnings in Trafalgar Square and witches are employed by the NHS (I know, brilliant, right?) is difficult. I couldn’t do it but Ms Powell really can. I know it sounds weird but I honestly think if there were witches in London, it would be exactly like this.
Unfortunately, and this is probably just me, I sometimes found that this book kind of got a bit bogged down with nitty-gritty details of things. The story is fast-paced, there are a lot of characters (maybe a little too many) and there are a lot of little side-stories which is fine, but when you add in all the details of witch politics, the intricate details of the spells, the entire character’s family tree… whoosh. It was an incredibly dense book and no stone was left unturned.

I know a lot of people will love and appreciate this, but for me it kind of slowed it down and I found some bits really difficult to get through.

And this is where I’m struggling because if Ms Powell hadn’t included and thought about all of these details, then I would have hated it and chalked it up as yet another paranormal book where plot doesn’t matter because there’s kissing and angst. I really appreciated how much thought Ms Powell put into the world building because, seriously, not a detail was spared. I just wondered whether some details could and should have been spared.

I know, it makes no sense. Poor Ms Powell really is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t and I know I’m being unfair.

But what I’m thinking is that now all that pesky world building is out of the way and the stage has well and truly been set, Ms Powell is going to be able to focus on her brilliant story and her fantastic characters and really get into her stride for the next book. And I for one, can’t wait!

So, now all that’s out of the way and you’re just as confused as I am… let’s talk about the things I did love.
As I mentioned, this world was fantastic. It was different and it was so fresh. We’ve all read books and seen films where the heroine is a witch and she’s in a flouncy nightie and she’s doing dainty spells to get a boy to love her or to protect her house from a boy who she’s inexplicably attracted to, haven’t we? In this book, the witch is a chav. She is next in line to run a coven (which, in this world, is more like a gang… with magic) and she could probably bottle you if she fancied it. She’s the kind of girl who would carry her PE kit in a Jane Norman bag and she wears big hoops and way too much make-up. She probably even has a Hooch coat lurking in the back of her wardrobe. She doesn’t cast spells to get herself a boyfriend; she casts them so she can take part in a heist. That’s right, A HEIST TO STEAL JEWELS

I loved both Glory and Lucas (the Witchfinder General’s son, by the way, who is just as brilliant in his own way) genuinely hated each other and not in that ‘Oh I hate you but my body is drawn to you’ kind of way. But in a ‘You’re a vile chavvy-hag’ and a ‘You’re a rich, poshboy twat’ kind of way.
So, you know… the best kind of way.
But what I really enjoyed was how there wasn’t even a hint that the two of them were going to start kissing all over the shop. They both have their issues, they both have their secrets and they both have their flaws. But they still respect each other and each other’s individual talents and it was great to see this progress at a normal and natural pace.

Whether they’ll get together and start respecting each other’s talents… I guess I’ll have to wait and see for the next book. I always have this thing when authors write a series and the lovers get together in the first book and then everything sparky and exciting is just forgotten in the subsequent books and is replaced by googly eyes and sharing ice-cream sundaes and life-altering destinies.
Yawwwwn.
What’s the rush authors?

But I think that Ms Powell has something up her sleeve with these two and she’s taking her time. No rush for the second book or anything, Laura Powell. *taps foot*

What? Oh don’t look at me like that. Of course I know that just because a book contains a boy and a girl who don’t like each other but have to work together and SPARKS and SARCASTIC COMMENTS fly doesn’t mean they have to become an item. But it will be a cold day in hell when I don’t root for the boy and the girl from different backgrounds to share a bag of crisps and a cheeky snog at a bus stop.
I know that’s not as romantic as kissing in a dreamy and lovely and sweet way after they’ve just saved the world. But this book isn’t dreamy and lovely and sweet.

…….

Fine, OK, seeing as it’s a YA book we’re talking about here, it can be raining or something and the boy can give the girl his posh boy blazer and a cagoule.
Better?

I have absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

OH YES. These characters. Yeah, I really liked them.

And I did really like this book, the world building is rich (although too much richness sometimes, um… too much) and the plot is really clever and, most importantly considering the genre, it’s different. And if you are a fan of paranormal/urban fantasy books (and don’t mind a lot of world building), I wholly recommend that you keep your eye out for this one.



I received an advanced copy of this book from Bloomsbury. 

You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog, Wear the Old Coat.
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Reading Progress

03/28/2012 page 89
21.0% "Really enjoying this so far. Also, loving that the witches are basically chavs. :-D" 6 comments
03/29/2012 page 145
35.0% "I'm getting a bit confuddled now. So much information, brain too small. *scratches head*"
03/31/2012 page 200
48.0% "I feel like I've been reading this book forever. o.O" 1 comment
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle It does look pretty interesting, doesn't it? I can't wait to get to it.


message 2: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo Yes, I may have to jiggle about with my to-read list so this accidentally gets put on top.

:p


message 3: by Maree (new) - added it

Maree I am really looking forward to this and your review just makes me want it so much more! :D


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