I admit it, I asked for an Advanced Reader Copy of If These Flames Could Talk to review. I used to work with Mr. Burnham a few years ago, so I was excited for him that he was writing a book. Then he shared an excerpt or a summary or something on his social media (we’re Facebook friends) and I decided right then that I wanted to read it. This book did not disappoint!
There are so many facets of Mr Burnham’s craft that I could discuss. First and foremost though, I have to state that his storyline and character development are amazing. If either were subpar this book would not be nearly as enjoyable. Second, I will admit to a slight bias of being hooked in by the setting in my home state and written by a friend. Third, his succinct description skills intermixed with truthbombs make this story dance in your mind even when you’re not reading. Fourth, had someone just given me the plot layout and list of characters, I would not have been very enticed. However, from the first page that I read, I wanted to just sit and read the whole book at once. His writing is excellent, the editing is great, and the layout is so smooth that the reader is unaware of it.
The characters really make this story come to life. The reader builds instant empathy towards both Nicole and Officer David Demick. Our introduction to them happens in a scene that is easily imagined, and we relate to them as we feel their nervousness and excitement, mixed with vivid memories of their past. It’s easy to make predictions of their Happily Ever After storyline and it adds a sweet wholesome strand to a weaving of a story surrounding human horror. Nicole’s brother, Adrian, is a little harder to empathize with, but Mr Burnham does an excellent job of showing us Adrian’s personality and then giving us layers of understanding. There are also many instances of smaller characters interacting with the main characters and we think we completely understand. Then, some more background information, or another viewpoint layer is shown, and our understanding deepens. Because the characters are so real, seldom is the outcome expected. The interactions do not “go as planned” just like real life interactions are constantly improvised based on perceptions and emotions as well as practicalities and hopes.
I highly urge you to go out and purchase If These Flames Could Talk by Michael Burnham today if you are into gritty, real-life horror. You’ll be caught in this mystery of human interactions, seasoned with emotions, and just a little bit of mental infirmity. To be fair, if you have suffered any trauma from family members manipulating you, or are afraid of the pain one human can inflict upon another, you may want to prepare yourself before picking this up. Myself, I enjoy this real grit that comes off the page and could land in any small town in America. I would urge any public library have this book, and I want all my friends to read it!