The Burning by S.O. Esposito
Published by Misterio Press, 2018
Genre(s): fiction, suspense, thriller
Format & Length: e-book, 351
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Alice Leininger seems to have the perfect life. She’s happily married, has two beautiful children, a close knit group of friends, and a cause she cares deeply about. But beneath the surface, her world of safety and comfort is unraveling. The periods of lost time she’s kept secret—even from her husband—are happening more frequently. She certainly doesn’t remember leaving her Sarasota home at three-thirty in the morning to burn someone alive. Now she sits in a Florida state mental institution, awaiting judgement on whether she’s fit to stand trial on charges of murder and arson. While a psychologist works to help Alice face her past, her future depends on the answer to one question: How far did she go for justice?
*This book is recommended for mature audiences. While there are no explicit scenes of graphic or explicit violence, it does touch on themes of trafficking and sexual assault.
When the author first reached out to ask me to review The Burning, I promptly did an online search to see what I could find about it. What I found was not much aside from the blurb that piqued my interest. Upon further digging I discovered that she’s previously written a handful of cozy mysteries under her full name and this was her first foray into darker territory.
“My sweet, sweet fairytale life has dissolved into the darkness. All that’s left for me is grief. Of course, it’s probably what I deserve.”
Well. I’m so glad I agreed to read this! I’m not entirely sure what I expected going in, but this was even better than I could have anticipated. Esposito’s writing style is snappy and easy to read, helping to balance a dark tone and themes explored, which include sexual assault, trafficking, and dissociative identity disorder. And although I don’t actually know much about dissociative identity disorder, this seemed extremely well researched and it was integrated into a fictional story quite nicely.
After an intriguing introduction, the narrative jumps back in time to a few months prior unveiling the events leading up to the present. The plot is fast paced and moves along at an even clip. This is told through Alice’s perspective, and although the cast of characters are interesting to varying degrees, she is by far the most complex. She’s also very likable and reading through her eyes keeps you guessing right along with her to the end.
In the end, The Burning was a compelling and engaging suspense story, and I’m looking forward to see what Esposito does next! Recommended to readers who think they can stomach the subjects within.