My first exposure to Lisa Unger’s writing was with the recent novella “The Whispers” which is set in Hollows, a fictional town which is the setting for many of Unger’s works. I was happy to have another novella from Unger, “The Burning Girl,” that was set in Hollows and features the same characters from “The Whispers” so I started it hoping to find the same quality of story as the first novella.
Ten years have passed since Eloise first got her psychic power through a terrible accident and she has spent that decade using her power to try and help others when she can even while she has found it difficult to help herself. Her daughter is grown and moved out and Eloise can feel the loneliness of the world closing in around her. Eloise works with Ray, a retired sheriff turned private investigator, and has spurned his attempts at being more than business associates. Her life has been complicated by her gift which has only enhanced her loneliness. It does not help at all when she first begins to see the burning girl.
Eloise does not understand what the burning girl is trying to tell her. As she tries to unwind the threads of the mystery, she turns to her mentor for help yet still keeps coming up empty. Her quest for answers leads her to a troubled family and Eloise finds herself staring down the demons of her past even as she tries to help others from realizing a similar fate.
While I did not find this story as compelling as the first one in the series, I still enjoyed it and it is sure to thrill Unger’s fans. “The Whispers” was more of a story of intrigue and drama while “The Burning Girl” is more about developing the character of Eloise and furthering her personal journey rather than having her try to follow her gift to help others. The element of the supernatural is still present in this novella but it takes a backseat to the all too human story of Eloise trying to overcome the horror of her past and find a way to work toward a brighter future. “The Burning Girl” is a quiet novella that helps develop the story and set the stage for Eloise’s future working with her gift.
While this is only the second time I have read one of Lisa Unger’s stories, I can definitely say that I am hooked and look forward to reading more from her in the future. In “The Burning Girl” as well as in “The Whispers,” Unger is able to mingle the supernatural with the human to craft a story that is both sinister and moving. These two short novellas have peeked my interest in the story of Eloise in a way that few authors are able to do in such a short time. Unger has created a world that is rich and layered so that it accurately mimics real life even with the touch of the supernatural to it. Unger’s fans are sure to slide into these stories as extension of a talented author’s works and those who are unfamiliar with her works as I was will find them a good starting point into the world she has created.
I would like to thank Pocket Books and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “The Burning Girl” is scheduled to be released by Pocket Books on November 25th, 2014.