Book review: Burn, by Elissa Sussman

Sussman BurnSussman, Elissa. Burn. Greenwillow Books. 2016. $17.99. 272p. HC. 978-0062274595.

Eleanor and the other Orphans in her rebel camp are trying to remove the Wicked Queen from power in Burn, the companion novel to Stray, by Elissa Sussman. She is aided by Princess Aislynn and Thackery (the leads in Stray) as well as mysterious newcomer, Matthias. However, Eleanor spent some of her childhood enslaved by the Wicked Queen and hasn’t been completely truthful to her new family about her past there. Will this group be strong enough to take down the Wicked Queen or will their secrets ruin everything?

This YA series is a fun blend of dystopia and fairy tale retellings. Although this is listed as a “companion” novel, readers will get more out of the book if they read Stray first. The focus is on a different main character, but there is a lot of important world building that happens in Stray. Burn takes place after the events in Stray.

What I found really refreshing about this book is the diversity of the characters in skin color, ability, and sexual orientation. While relationships aren’t a major plotline of the story, the main character is described as having been in love with both girls and boys (although her interest throughout this story is for a male character). Additionally, there is a scene where two male side characters who are in love have an incredibly sweet “bonding ceremony” which is much like a wedding.

With short chapters and a fast-paced plot, this book is an exciting read for fans of fairy tale retellings. The open ending paves the way for future installments that readers will be yearning for. I highly recommend this title as well as Stray for YA collections.

Also, Eleanor has the sweetest pet fox, so really it’s worth reading for that alone.

Jenna Friebel
Youth Services Librarian
Deerfield (IL) Public Library

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