Janeal Mikkado is a gypsy. Some of you just stopped reading this review, thinking this will be another one of those heavyhanded "traveling gypsy stories" that are so cliche. I promise it's not what you think. The gypsy element is merely present for the introduction. And it's another fantastic collaboration by New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker and Erin Healy.
She escaped the fire, but not the effects of the Burn...
Back to Janeal Mikkado. One day, she goes wandering off, her head filled with thoughts of possibly leaving her old life behind, and encounters a man known as Salazar Sanso. Sanso is a Mexican criminal mastermind of sorts, and he's gotten tangled up in a situation involving Janeal's father. His way out: get Janeal tangled up in it too.
But things don't go according to plan. Do they ever, especially in a Dekker book? Things get so far apart from the intended plan, events are set in motion that culminate in a fire that ravages Janeal's longtime home. The survivors are so few they are almost nonexistant, all very fragile, and all keeping their identities secret.
Fifteen years pass. Janeal, now under the alias Jane Johnson (might as well make her last name Doe) is working in New York City, clawing her way to the top of the corporate ladder, trying to leave her old life and the shames that go with it behind. She finds this impossible when a news report surfaces that confirms her once boyfirend is alive-- and there is another survivor, one whose life was traded for Janeal's. And when Sanso gets involved, things will certainly turn out to be messy...
Burn is quite good. Is it Dekker's best? No. Is it better than Kiss? In pretty much every way. The twist is played up over a longer period of time, the pacing has a great build to it (one of the sections is actually titled "Slow Burn"), and the climax frames the story nicely.
Dekker has a deft hand for quick characterizations, but his bluntness, which has long polarized readers, is refined somewhat by Healy's prescence. The book is still gripping, it's just not quite as gritty. It gets quite dark, but Healy manages to soften the virtual bruises Dekker's writing sometimes leaves.
It's a nicely balanced book which, while it lacks some of the storytelling kick and vigor of other Dekker creations, still is endlessly engrossing and well worth a read. If you were... um... burned (no pun originally intended) by some of Dekker's harsher work, give this one a try. If you love his harsher work (like me), give this one a try. It'll make for great conversation after you're done, too.
All in all, bring on the next one! Which is The Bride Collector, coming this April. Yeah, he's a really fast writer.
My rating: 9.5/10
Coming Soon: Last Argument of Kings