by Jennifer McMahon


$25.95 View All Available Formats & Editions



On the surface, Ashford, Vermont, seems like a quaint New England college town, but to those who live among the shadowy remains of its abandoned mills and factories and beneath its towering steel bridges, it's known as Burntown. 

Eva Sandeski, who goes by the name Necco on the street, has been a part of Burntown's underworld for years, ever since the night her father, Miles, drowned in a flood that left her and her mother, Lily, homeless. 

Now, on the run from a man called Snake Eyes, Necco must rely on other Burntown outsiders to survive. As the lives of these misfits intersect, and as the killer from the Sandeski family's past draws ever closer, a story of edge-of-your-seat suspense begins to unfurl with classic Jennifer McMahon twists and turns.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385541367
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/25/2017
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.20(d)

About the Author

JENNIFER McMAHON is the author of eight novels, including the New York Times best-sellers Promise Not to Tell and The Winter People. She graduated from Goddard College and studied poetry in the MFA Writing Program at Vermont College. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "Burntown"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Jennifer McMahon.
Excerpted by permission of Diversified Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

Guide written by Amy Clements

1. If you had access to Edison’s machine, who would you want to summon from the dead? What would you ask? Would you want to be warned about imminent danger, as Miles’s mother did, or would you rather not know what lies ahead?

2. Discuss the many faces of motherhood described in the novel. Did Lily’s protective instincts do more harm than good? How will Necco’s approach to parenting be different? Why was it hard for Theo to trust her mother?

3. Miles’s book, The Princess and the Elephant, describes the power of myths, legends, and symbols. Is his family haunted by a supernatural force, or did their enemy become stronger and more dangerous simply through storytelling?

4. “Fire is life,” the Fire Eaters say, and “fire is breath.” How is this demonstrated by the women of Ashford? What is special about the women’s wisdom possessed by the Fire Eaters?

5. What lies at the heart of Necco’s resilience? Do her memories sustain her, or do they burden her with fear and grief?

6. Was Hannah just using Theo, or is it possible that she had fallen in love? What made Hannah vulnerable to Jeremy’s control?

7. While Theo learns more and more about the nature of addiction, does she use her leverage wisely?

8. What does Errol’s story tell us about innocence? How was his perception of himself shaped by his male role models?

9. Pru’s circus celebrates superpower and beauty. If you joined her troupe, what would your performance be?

10. What does the novel say about the nature of love (including being loved by family)? What made Miles and Lily so devoted to each other, while Elizabeth and Martin (Miles’s parents) had a shaky marriage? Would Hermes and Necco’s relationship have survived?

11. What hopes and fears do Necco and Theo share? Have you experienced a friendship like theirs—one that sustained and healed you?

12. What gives Pru the confidence to recognize her strength, shedding her image as an outsider and finding true love with Mr. Marcelle?

13. What did you predict about the identity of Snake Eyes? How did you react when the truth was revealed?

14. In her acknowledgments, the author expresses gratitude to everyone she met while working at a homeless shelter in Portland. What does the novel reveal about homelessness, survival, and life in hiding?

15. How does Burntown enhance your experience of Jennifer McMahon’s previous novels? What is unique about the way she blends ordinary life with extraordinary turns of fate?

Customer Reviews