Book Review: A Slow Fire Burning

Succumbing already to slow fire, the acidification of the paper destroying it from within, eating away at the pages, making them brittle and breakable.

Paula Hawkins ~ A Slow Fire Burning


When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him.

Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim’s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbour clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim.

Three women who are – for different reasons – simmering with resentment. Who are, whether they know it or not, burning to right the wrongs done to them.

When it comes to revenge, even good people might be capable of terrible deeds. How far might any one of them go to find peace? How long can secrets smoulder before they explode into flame?


This was a highly anticipated read. However, it took me three attempts to finish it. It’s quite slow and very predictable. There’s also a parallel story running throughout, which really doesn’t add anything to the plot, which is average at best.

What makes this book worth your time is its characters. While some of them are less memorable, each of them stands up on their own. They all have a story to tell and have suffered some great tragedy in their past.

Laura is an excellent character. She’s flawed, brash and a kleptomaniac. But she’s also damaged and, despite everything, still wants to make a connection. Every time something goes wrong she calls her parents; they couldn’t care less, but she still tries. As we see her relationship with the lovely Irene develop, we understand her more. Her past, when it is revealed, is shocking and hard to comprehend.

Miriam too has suffered. Her way of coping is different; she wants to make others pay, but isn’t quite strong enough to see it through. Our first impression of her changes throughout the book as we realise the horrors that lurk in her past.

This book is not about a murder victim and their killer. It’s about grief and coming to terms with your past. We all suffer; we all feel guilt… but how do we deal with it and how does our coping mechanism affect our actions and choices?

If you’re expecting a fast-paced, gripping thriller you may be disappointed. But I urge you to forget The Girl on the Train and go into this book with an open mind. If you do that, you’ll enjoy it much more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was provided with a copy of the book by Penguin Random House and Grazia. All opinions my own.

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