DNF Review: A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow


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Published: 20 March 2018

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Category: Fantasy/Fiction/Mystery

We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Rating: 1.5 Stars

CW: language (particularly regarding an autistic side character and the R word, then potentially autistic children in general), fat-phobic terminology

A lot of time there’s no justice in the world. I think that’s at least part of what made me want to request this book, the idea that murdered children could get revenge on those that had wronged them. It’s a brilliant concept,  I thought, and while the cover is a bit bright for my tastes, it wasn’t too bad.

The contents, on the other hand…

From the very first page the writing seemed very crass. It was very uninteresting and I struggled with reading it. There was no connectivity to Willow, the ex-narcotics detective we’re seeing this story through, other than the author painting him as a physically abhorrent person. The language is used isn’t great, such as “fatty”, and a lot of time is spent on his health, whether it be potential cancer (liver or skin) or sexual performance ability (he praises Cialis).

He is a stereotypical has been cop, a self proclaimed American Mythic Washed-up Cop. This admission doesn’t make his story better, it makes it sadder. He knows it, the author obviously knows it, and yet the reader is still made to endure more tired descriptors. I kept waiting for trumpet music from a classic movie to play over this tripe.

It was hard to get a grasp on the story and get into it. The passages that were spent with Willow were especially bad because it felt like I was reading the inside of his brain. Willow’s a recovering (maybe?) alcoholic and the narrative felt like what would happen if you cracked his head open and poured the contents out through a word processor.

The parts that were flashbacks were no less clear. Introducing new characters only seemed to make things worse. They were convoluted, bringing new threads to tangle and make into a big mess with unclear relationships and motivations that were in turns nonsensical and insulting. I spent more time going back and forth trying to figure out who people were, who they were related to, and what they were supposed to be doing then actually enjoying the book.

There was some coolness with the “magic system” or whatever you’d call it that that had the ghosts/souls returned to the living world and into bodies, or tenants and landlords. It was a bit tricky because there were metaphors abound and you had to remember them or you’d be lost; not just the ones for the children and their hosts, either, but also for Annie, a “porter” who guides the children, for example. She was actually kind of an interesting character that I liked reading about.

Overall, the beginning of this book damaged any hope there was of finishing it because it was so poor. The writing was not to my liking, I did not care about the characters, and even reading further and finding one good one wasn’t enough for a narrative that turned out to be, quite frankly, dull.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.


2 thoughts on “DNF Review: A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow

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