It Can’t Be THAT Easy – a review of Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado

We have another Pride Month review. This time it’s a dark fantasy that goes into NYC history with a sapphic relationship written by an NB author.

When Raquel’s mother gets hospitalised and her crush’s cousin becomes the next victim in a long list of disappearances, she’s convinced they’re connected. She and her crush Charlize soon learn about the Echo Game and the many conspiracies surrounding it. Their investigations lead them to the New York subways, a dark history of the Bronx, and a twisted alternate reality that leads them to making big mistakes.

The worldbuilding and the connections between the real world and the unnatural were stellar. It was what hooked me that combined into a story that is The Unsleeping City meets Stranger Things. Everything was so richly integrated, how the monsters were a reflection of what historically happened to the Bronx in the 80s. How the humans got affected by the dark alternate world. And above all else, how New York wasn’t the only affected city. I loved hearing hints of other histories across the world, and it makes a promising premise for an anthology series. But anyway, the world itself stole the book away. It had the best vibes that creeped you out at any possible turn.

The characters felt too much the same to each other. I cannot tell you the personality of the main characters to save my life. Raquel, Charlize, and every other character around their age felt so much the same minus one trait, if I was lucky. Oh, this one has the hots for Raquel and she doesn’t reciprocate. Like, is that even personality? They blur as I write this review even now. You should know by now how much I hate characters without character. And I was hoping they would show up this whole time. Guess what? They didn’t.

Second, the characters had it too easy. I like victory, but it didn’t feel earned in the climax of this novel. When this is marketed as a horror or a dark fantasy, I expect more terror and sacrifices than what I got delivered. I expect a greater struggle. The ending felt more suited to a middle grade story. Especially with the powers that got them off so easy. It felt too enlightening for such a dark setting. Altogether it made for a hollow conclusion.

Burn Down, Rise Up gets a score of 3/5. Let my characters struggle, please and thank you.

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