Abuse · Book Review · Dark · Taboo

BURNED by Jennifer Bene

4.25 stars
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is one of those books that leaves you wondering what exactly it was you just read, whether you should really be reading it and if there is something wrong with you because you enjoyed it.


I read all the warnings, fully heading the author repeatedly saying this was dark and hopeless. And boy did this take me to the darkest, most depraved depths of hell. I knew going in that this wouldn’t totally be my kind of read, but I also adore Ms Bene so much that, despite that fact, I had to read this. It very much makes it difficult for me to rate the book though. I’ve settled on four stars quite simply because I felt the story flowed, the characters were well crafted and had personality, there was some good world building and background detail and the writing is of a high standard.

Burned is a no-holds-barred and no happiness whatsoever type of read, just in case you didn’t know. There is NO romance, NO happiness and NO satisfactory bad guy getting their just deserts. And until you’ve read one of these types of books you can’t be sure whether or not you will like it. What I will say is that I did enjoy this much more than the original Inferno books. It just felt like it had a little more direction and reason. I also like that the ending, whilst totally a Debby Downer of a conclusion, felt like a hopeless hope. Believe me that will make more sense if and when you’ve read the book! 

Bryden is a loathsome man and whilst his actions are not reasonable or acceptable, I could almost understand the ‘why’ of it. Marian was much more of a monster to me, she knew the truth, she knew right from wrong, she knew better. To allow, condone and participate in those acts made her much more of a monster in my eyes. It takes a talented author to craft truly believable, hateful and despicable characters.

My only criticism, which was also true of the original Inferno book, is that there is no explanation of how the family is funded. Bryden goes grocery shopping and I didn’t get the impression that they were self sufficient. Whilst that information wasn’t vital to the story, it was something that I made me ponder and pulled me from the story at one point. 

The connection between Ella and Wesley, despite the way Bryden tried to pervert it, gave my poor little soul something good to cling to. It was what allowed me to connect to the story and ‘enjoy’ it, though I’m not sure how appropriate a description enjoy is. They gave each other strength, comfort and ultimately a choice. It was a tiny sliver of grey amidst the pitch black.

I didn’t want to be this man. 
I never wanted to be like my father.

I just wanted to be loved by him. Accepted. That’s how this happened, that’s how I became this person. Too many years of listening, too many years craving his approval. His words burned into my mind.

And now I crave things the world says I shouldn’t.

I open doors that should remain closed. I cross lines meant to be straight and narrow. But they’ll understand, they’ll see just like I did.

This is the right way of things. The way it’s meant to be.

And whether I have his name or not, at least I’ve finally become the perfect son.

AMAZON US / AMAZON UK / GOODREADS