Book Review: Burn

Patrick Ness

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

published: 7th May 2020
spoilers? tried to avoid


In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm, and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?

Sometimes you just have to feel bad about a thing. Sometimes that’s the only thing that makes you human.

Galley provided by publisher

CWs: period typical racism & homophobia

It would be fair to say Patrick Ness ranks as one of my favourite authors ever. I’m not sure, in the almost ten years I’ve been reading his books, I’ve ever disliked a book he has written. And this book does not break that streak.

Burn combines the best of Ness’ works – a world much like our own but with one fantastical aspect, characters you’ll love, and a storyline that will have you completely engrossed. I read Burn in a single sitting in a couple of hours, it’s that good.

Probably the best thing about this book, as with most Patrick Ness books, is the characters. They are a particularly varied cast in this one, from a Russian Blue dragon, to a religious assassin who finds love and thus changes the course of history. It honestly feels the most creative of Ness’ books in that respect.

Combined with that is the fact that gay love, not straight love, is what causes the whole “change in the course of history” in this book. I know, it seems like a small thing, but after so many books where it’s straight love that saves the day, this feels like a breath of fresh air.

All of which means that you should definitely pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

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