Book Review: The Burning Girl by Lisa Unger

The Burning GirlThe Burning Girl
A Whispers Story #2
Lisa Unger
Pocket Star, November 2014
ISBN 978-1-4767-9779-3

From the publisher—

Ten years after Eloise Montgomery discovers her psychic abilities, she is a full-fledged working psychic, with a partner and a business. Now, in The Burning Girl, she’s discovering some disturbing things: secrets about her genealogy that are, perhaps, best left in the past; that her granddaughter Finley has powers of her own; and that not all of Eloise’s visitors actually want to be helped. Some of them are just looking for trouble…

When The Burning Girl opens, we find Eloise vacuuming while a young girl glowers on her couch. That child isn’t really there; she’s one of those lost girls Eloise “listens” to when her psychic attunement kicks in. Almost fourteen years after the deaths of her husband and older daughter, Eloise is at something of a crossroads in her life and the strain of her unwanted knowledge of people in terrible peril has clearly worn on her. Her younger daughter, Amanda, lives as far away as she can get because she’s so unnerved by her mother even though she cares about her deeply. Eloise’s partner, Ray, wants more from her than she can give and Eloise sees no relief ahead from the burden of knowing things that can be so very painful. A woman named Agatha may be the only one who can save Eloise from falling victim to her own sensabilities.

Eloise is a woman nearly consumed by the emotions of others and it’s apparent that the visions and the whispers are in control. I’ve never had any such experiences but her pain is palpable and I had no doubt, as I was reading, that she was nearing the edge of sanity. It was like seeing an old acquaintance years after you first met and wondering what terrible travails life had brought her in the intervening years. Her struggle to survive seeps through the pages and I frequently wanted to put an arm around her for just a moment.

The first novella in this trilogy had more edge to it but, by the time The Burning Girl ends, I really did feel that Eloise might at last be finding a kind of peace. I’m looking forward to Ms. Unger’s The Three Sisters to see how this nice woman will fare.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.