Burnt Paper Sky

Book Title: Burnt Paper Sky

Author: Gilly Macmillan

Publisher: Piatkus

Publication Date: August 27th 2015

Genre(s): Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

Pages: 496

Format Received: Paperback

Goodreads: Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing. But what really happened that fateful afternoon? Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel? The clock is ticking to find Ben alive. WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

My Review: The first thing I can think of as I close this novel after reading the final page is ‘sleep deprived’. Important note to anybody wishing to read this novel: do not expect to pick this up and take your time reading it; that just won’t happen. It is fast paced and a nail biter.

Written as social media posts, transcripts and alternating chapters between Rachel (the mother) and Jim (the detective), you find yourself immersed. I have had this book on my book shelf for over a year now, and I have left it there for a reason and that reason is happening now – the book hangover. I knew it would happen and that is why I kept putting it off. However, putting everything aside, I started 2017 with the frame of mind that all my ‘I know I’ll end up with a book hangover’ novels I aim to read and Burnt Paper Sky is the first … it is the beginning of my 2017 task and I can confirm that it has been an excellent book to begin with.

The novel had me hooked, it was so cleverly written, giving nothing away. Even when I got over half way through, it still wasn’t clear, nor did I have any indication who the culprit was. The alternating chapters were interesting, never venturing to show the reader the point of view from Ben (the abducted child). Like other novels we normally get to see the story unfold from all sides but this time the reader is left out in the cold, exactly as it would be in real life really, not knowing anything (you’re either family or the police so can only be a one sided judge). The novel leaned into the characters, especially the parents, putting the reader in their shoes and doing a really amazing job of making you feel for each of them, especially Rachel who not only has to live through the heartache of experiencing the abduction of her only child but another life changing experience, which I won’t mention in this review … I shall leave it for you to read Burnt Paper Sky to find out.

As a final note, this novel is truly heartbreaking and has you petrified as the entire backdrop story is absolutely 100% something that can happen in real life – it is a regular part of the news. The ending of the novel absolutely worked for me as it was what I, and I think everybody wishes for when a child is abducted.

Thank you Gilly Macmillan for a novel so tense, gripping and beautifully written.

About the Author: Gilly Macmillan grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern California in her late teens. She studied History of Art at Bristol University and then at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family, and since then has done some lecturing in ‘A’ Level photography. Gilly lives in Bristol, UK with her husband and three children and now writes full time. She’s currently working on her third novel. For more information about Gilly Macmillan, visit her website.


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