By:  Jennifer McMahon
# of pages: 
Full House (2017 published)

Goodreads description:

Eva grew up watching her father, Miles, invent strange and wonderful things in the small workshop behind their house on the river that runs through their old mill town. But the most important invention of all was the one that Miles claimed came from the mind of Thomas Edison himself–a machine that allowed one to speak with loved ones long passed. Smuggled out of Edison’s laboratory, the blueprints were passed down to Miles, and he’s been using them to protect Eva, her mother, Lily, and her brother, Errol, ever since.

Then, one night when a storm is raging and the river is threatening to flood, the machine whirrs to life on its own. Danger, it says. You’re in terrible danger. The next thing Eva knows is waking up on the side of the river and seeing her mother’s grim face. Eva’s father and brother are dead, their house has been washed away and an evil man is searching for them both. They need to hide.

Eva changes her name to Necco–a candy she always loved–and tries to put everything in her past behind her as she adapts to her new life off the grid. But when her boyfriend is murdered and her mother disappears, she knows that the past is starting to catch up to her.

What really happened the night of the flood? As Necco searches for the truth, her journey unites her with two women who are on desperate quests of their own. And as the trio follows the clues to solving the mystery of Necco’s past, they discover that sometimes it’s the smallest towns that hold the strangest secrets.

My opinion:  This was on my list of potential R.I.P. Challenge books, but I decided to save it for another year.  That is, until I saw it displayed front and center in the new books section at the library, which is conveniently located next to the check out line.  I’ve read both The Winter People and The Night Sisters by McMahon and enjoyed both.  I’m glad I decided to pick it up because it was a fast, mysterious read that kept me hooked.

In Burntown, Necco is a young woman living on the streets in a city called Ashford, Vermont.  She’s suffered memory loss, but her life is separated into two parts, before the flood and after the flood.  She doesn’t remember much about the actual flood, but her mother has told her that they are hiding from a murderer she calls Snake Eyes.  Necco doesn’t believe Snake Eyes exists until her boyfriend is clearly murdered.

I liked how Necco’s quest for the truth intertwines with Theo’s predicament and Pru’s dream.  All three women face character growth throughout the novel that is believable and inspiring.  Like the other books I read by McMahon, this one has a convenient ending, but fortunately it plays out a little slower instead of feeling rushed like the others I read.  There were a few things I found hard to understand that I can’t discuss without spoiling the plot, but if I don’t think too hard about some of the plot twists it makes this book more enjoyable!

I do wish there had been more emphasis on the paranormal aspect.  The story had some very creepy moments, but I understand that this would have been a completely different story if McMahon had decided to focus on the supernatural occurrences.

I recommend this book to people who enjoy mysteries with a bit of a paranormal aspect.  Just go along with the story line and don’t overthink and it will be a fun read.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Original story with a cool blend of paranormal and contemporary mystery, neat characters, some odd decisions made by the author that didn’t make sense.

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