Today I am giving away one copy of The Rise of Ransom City by Felix Gilman, the sequel to The Half-Made World. I haven’t read either of these books yet, but I’ve heard they are excellent!

About The Rise of Ransom City:

The Rise of Ransom City by Felix Gilman

This is the story of Harry Ransom. If you know his name it’s most likely as the inventor of the Ransom Process, a stroke of genius that changed the world.

Or you may have read about how he lost the battle of Jasper City, or won it, depending on where you stand in matters of politics.

Friends called him Hal or Harry, or by one of a half-dozen aliases, of which he had more than any honest man should. He often went by Professor Harry Ransom, and though he never had anything you might call a formal education, he definitely earned it.

If you’re reading this in the future, Ransom City must be a great and glittering metropolis by now, with a big bronze statue of Harry Ransom in a park somewhere. You might be standing on its sidewalk and not wonder in the least of how it grew to its current glory. Well, here is its story, full of adventure and intrigue. And it all starts with the day that old Harry Ransom crossed paths with Liv Alverhyusen and John Creedmoor, two fugitives running from the Line, amidst a war with no end.

Read an Excerpt from The Rise of Ransom City

To learn more about the author and his work, visit Felix Gilman’s website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Ransom City.” One entry per person and a winner will be randomly selected. Only those with a mailing address in the US or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, December 7. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed now that the giveaway is over.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Hope everyone who celebrates it had a Happy Thanksgiving! Due to the holiday week, I didn’t have much time to do blogging during the last week in the evenings after work, but I’m hoping to start getting caught up this week. I’m currently working on a review of The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks (which I enjoyed even if it’s not my favorite Culture book I’ve read), and I also need to review Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. For reading, I just started The Siren Depths, the third Raksura book by Martha Wells, and am loving it (no surprise there since I loved the first two).

This was a great week for books since I bought a few, including a couple that I’ve been eager to read for awhile that were just released. There were also a couple of ARCs and a review copy that showed up that were quite a pleasant surprise – all of them are books I REALLY want to read! The only problem is that I want to read all of these right now (or the first book in the series in one case).

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

This science fiction novel is the second novel by Karen Lord, whose debut novel Redemption in Indigo was very well received. It was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and it won the Frank Collymore Literary Award, the William L. Crawford Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. Karen Lord was also nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

The Best of All Possible Worlds will be released in hardcover and ebook in February 2013, and there will be a second book published in 2014.

I’m very excited about reading this one. Not only is the author supposed to be fantastic, but the book itself sounds very intriguing:

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.

Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

Bard's Oath by Joanne Bertin

Bard’s Oath (Dragonlord #3) by Joanne Bertin

(The above image is not the final version of the hardcover, which doesn’t seem to be available online yet.)

Bard’s Oath will be released in hardcover and ebook on November 27. This is the conclusion to the series, following The Last Dragonlord and Dragon and Phoenix, respectively. The second of these books was released over 10 years ago and the print versions of these books seem to be out of print, though they are available as ebooks.

There is an excerpt from Bard’s Oath on the publisher’s website.

The first two books in this series were actually among the first fantasy books I read when I started reading fantasy and science fiction. I enjoyed them a lot and used to search frequently for news about Bard’s Oath and its release date. After no news for a long time, I’d forgotten about it, but I am thrilled that it’s available this year! I’m also pleased that there are a few pages in the front of the book about the story so far since it has been so long since I read them that I don’t remember much about them (and I borrowed them so I don’t even have copies to refer to).

In The Last Dragonlord and Dragon and Phoenix Joanne Bertin created a world unlike our own, where Dragonlords soar in the skies above the many realms of the land. The Dragonlords’ magic is unique, giving them the ability to change from dragon to human form; to communicate silently among themselves; and other abilities not known to mortals.

For many millennia, the Dragonlords have been a blessing to the world, with their great magic and awesome power. And though they live far longer than the humans who they resemble when not in their draconic state, these fabled changelings are still loyal to their human friends. Now in Bard’s Oath, their magic is not the only power abroad in the world. And not all the magic is as benign as theirs.

Leet, a master bard of great ability and vaulting ambition, has his own magic, but of a much darker nature. Years ago, death claimed the woman he loved, setting him on a course to avenge her death, no matter the consequences. Now, mad with hatred and consumed by his thirst for revenge, Leet has set in motion a nefarious plot that ensnares the friend of a Dragonlord, using his bardic skills . . . and dark powers only he can summon, to accomplish his bitter task.

Raven, a young horse-breeder friend of the Dragonloard Linden Rathan, is ensnared by Leet and under the bard’s spell, is one of the bard’s unwitting catspaws. When accused of a heinous crime, Raven turns to Linden, and while Dragonlords normally do not meddle in human affairs, Linden comes to Raven’s aid, loath to abandon him in his time of desperate need.

But Raven, and others victimized by Leet, are at the mercy of human justice. Can even a Dragonlord save them from a dire fate before it is too late?

Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri

Blood’s Pride (Shattered Kingdoms #1) by Evie Manieri

This fantasy debut novel will be released in hardcover in February 2013 in the US. This title, the first book in a trilogy, was released in the UK earlier this year.

There is an excerpt from Blood’s Pride available on the author’s website.

Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.

Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising—but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?

This thrilling new epic fantasy is set in a quasi-Medieval Mediterranean region, drawing together the warrior culture of Vikings, the wanderlust of desert nomads, and the oracles of ancient Greece. Blood’s Pride is an intricate, lush book full of taut action, gut-wrenching betrayal, and soaring romance.

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

This slim YA book is now out of print, but I heard it was a good one and snatched up a new copy I found online for only $5. Ever since reading Patricia McKillip’s short story collection, Wonders of the Invisible World, I’ve been frantically adding her books to my wish list. I must read them all!

There was a review of The Changeling Sea at The Book Smugglers this week if you want to learn more about it – plus they are giving away a copy of this along with The Lost Conspiracy/Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson as part of The Ultimate Thanksgiving Giveaway! It’s also possible to read an excerpt from The Changeling Sea using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.

Since the day her father’s fishing boat returned without him, Peri and her mother have mourned his loss. Her mother sinks into a deep depression and spends her days gazing out at the sea. Unable to control her anger and sadness any longer, Peri uses the small magic she knows to hex the sea. And suddenly into her drab life come the King’s sons-changelings with strange ties to the underwater kingdom-a young magician, and, finally, love.

The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg

The Daemon Prism (Collegia Magica #3) by Carol Berg

Since Carol Berg is one of my favorite authors I’m a bit ashamed to say I haven’t even read the first book in this most recent trilogy by her. I’m a bit of a stickler about having all the books in a series in a matching format so I made sure to get the trade paperback of this to go with the other two. And I had no qualms about getting the last book before even starting the first since I have yet to read a book by Carol Berg that I didn’t enjoy! (The Rai-kirah trilogy is my favorite, though, and I recommend Transformation, the first book in that trilogy, as a good place to start with her books.)

There is an excerpt from The Daemon Prism online, BUT it does contain spoilers for the first two books. The first two books in this trilogy are:

  1. The Spirit Lens (Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Soul Mirror (Read an Excerpt)

All the books in the series are available in trade paperback, ebook, and Audible audiobook formats. The first two are also available in mass market paperback with the third to follow suit on December 31, 2012.

“Thou’rt Fallen, Dante. Born in frost-cold blood; suckled on pain. Thy repentance was ever a lie…”

Dante the necromancer is the most reviled man in Sabria, indicted by the King, the Temple, and the Camarilla Magica for crimes against the living and the dead. Yet no judgment could be worse than his enemies’ cruel vengeance that left him crippled in body and mind. Dante seeks to salve pain and bitterness with a magical puzzle – a desperate soldier’s dream of an imprisoned enchantress and a faceted glass that can fill one’s uttermost desires.

But the dream is a seductive trap that ensnares Dante’s one-time partners and unlocks his own deepest fears. Haunted, blind, driven to the verges of the world, Dante risks eternal corruption and the loss of everything he values to unravel a mystery of ancient magic, sacred legend, and divine truth…

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor is one of my favorite authors and I LOVED Daughter of Smoke and Bone so of course I had to get a hold of the sequel once it became available. Days of Blood & Starlight is now available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats. The first seven chapters can be read online, but I wouldn’t recommend reading them if you haven’t read the first book! If you haven’t read the first book but are interested in the series, here is an excerpt from Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

The description below does contain spoilers for book one.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

The Siren Depths by Martha Wells

The Siren Depths (Books of the Raksura #3) by Martha Wells

The trade paperback version of this is shipping now, but the ebook won’t be available until the official release in December. There is an excerpt from The Siren Depths available on the author’s website and a chance to win a copy on Goodreads (for those living in US, CA, GB, AU, or NZ).

The first two books in this series are as follows:

  1. The Cloud Roads (My Review | Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Serpent Sea (My Review | Read an Excerpt)

The Kindle version of The Cloud Roads is only $1.99 right now.

I loved the first two books in this series so I purchased a copy of this immediately and started it soon after it arrived. I was glad to see there will be four Raksura novellas released as ebooks after this book. Right now I’m nearly halfway through The Siren Depths, and it makes me happy to know it won’t be the end of the time spent in this world with these characters (at least the first two novellas will be about the same characters).

All his life, Moon roamed the Three Worlds, a solitary wanderer forced to hide his true nature — until he was reunited with his own kind, the Raksura, and found a new life as consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. But now a rival court has laid claim to him, and Jade may or may not be willing to fight for him. Beset by doubts, Moon must travel in the company of strangers to a distant realm where he will finally face the forgotten secrets of his past, even as an old enemy returns with a vengeance. The Fell, a vicious race of shape-shifting predators, menaces groundlings and Raksura alike. Determined to crossbreed with the Raksura for arcane purposes, they are driven by an ancient voice that cries out from . . . .The siren depths.

The winners of the Shattered Sigil giveaway and The Shattered Dark giveaway have been drawn. They already know who they are, so this is just a heads up for anyone else who was wondering if winners had been selected for either of these giveaways yet.

The winner of the signed copies of The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer is:


The winner of The Shattered Dark by Sandy Williams is:


Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy the books!

There will be a chance to win another book next week!

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear

Shattered Pillars (Eternal Sky #2) by Elizabeth Bear

Shattered Pillars is easily one of my most anticipated books of 2013. First, it’s by one of my favorite authors. Second, it’s the sequel to Range of Ghosts, which was fantastic and one of my favorite books from this year (my review).

Shattered Pillars will be released in hardcover and ebook in March 2013. If you haven’t read the first book, you can read more about the series or read an excerpt from Range of Ghosts.

The Shattered Pillars is the second book of Bear’s The Eternal Sky trilogy and the sequel to Range of Ghosts. Set in a world drawn from our own great Asian Steppes, this saga of magic, politics and war sets Re-Temur, the exiled heir to the great Khagan and his friend Sarmarkar, a Wizard of Tsarepheth, against dark forces determined to conquer all the great Empires along the Celedon Road.

Elizabeth Bear is an astonishing writer, whose prose draws you into strange and wonderful worlds, and makes you care deeply about the people and the stories she tells. The world of The Eternal Sky is broadly and deeply created—her award-nominated novella, “Bone and Jewel Creatures” is also set there.

Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper

Trinity Rising (The Wild Hunt #2) by Elspeth Cooper

Trinity Rising will be released in hardcover and ebook in February 2013 in the US. This book is already available in the UK.

The first Wild Hunt book and Elspeth Cooper’s debut novel is titled Songs of the Earth (my review). If you haven’t read it, there is an excerpt available online.

The future holds nothing but blood and death . . . and Teia fears there is nothing she can do about it. Her clan is riding to war, but her secret, untrained gift of foretelling has shown her they are riding to their doom. If she cannot turn them from their course, her only hope of saving them will be to betray them to their sworn enemies.

Gair is mourning his past . . . but there is no time to dwell on his grief or hunger for revenge. Pursuing an artefact from the Founding Wars, he travels deep into the hostile southern deserts. As religious tensions erupt into bloody violence around him, he must make an impossible choice: save innocent lives or sacrifice them in the hope that thousands more can be saved later.

And all the while, his grip on his powers is failing.

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

A Conspiracy of Alchemists (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1) by Liesel Schwarz

This debut novel will be released in hardcover and ebook in March 2013 in the US. There will not be a long wait for books 2 and 3, which will be published at six-month intervals.

A Conspiracy of Alchemists will be published in February 2013 in the UK.

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.
It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.
Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.
But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.

Advent by James Treadwell

Advent (Advent #1) by James Treadwell

Advent will be released in paperback in the UK on November 22. It’s already available in hardcover and ebook.

An excerpt from Advent is available online.

“A drowning, a magician’s curse, and a centuries-old secret. “1537. A man hurries through city streets in a gathering snowstorm, clutching a box in one hand. He is Johann Faust, the greatest magician of his age. The box he carries contains a mirror safeguarding a portion of his soul and a small ring containing all the magic in the world. Together, they comprise something unimaginably dangerous.

London, the present day. Fifteen-year-old Gavin Stokes is boarding a train to the countryside to live with his aunt. His school and his parents can’t cope with him and the things he sees, things they tell him don’t really exist. At Pendurra, Gavin finds people who are like him, who see things too. They all make the same strange claim: magic exists, it’s leaking back into our world, and it’s bringing something terrible with it.

First in an astonishingly imaginative fantasy trilogy, “Advent “describes how magic was lost to humanity, and how a fifteen-year-old boy discovers that its return is his inheritance. It begins in a world recognizably our own, and ends an extraordinarily long way from where it started–somewhere much bigger, stranger, and richer.

The Sum of Her Parts by Alan Dean Foster

The Sum of Her Parts (Tipping Point #3) by Alan Dean Foster

The final book in the Tipping Point trilogy will be released in trade paperback and ebook on November 27. An excerpt is available to read online.

The first two books in this science fiction series are as follows:

  1. The Human Blend (Read an Excerpt)
  2. Body, Inc. (Read an Excerpt)

In this thrilling science fiction adventure—the triumphant conclusion to the Tipping Point trilogy—New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster returns to a near future in which genetic manipulation and extreme body modification have changed profoundly what it means to be human.
Dr. Ingrid Seastrom was once a respected American physician. Whispr, whose body has been transformed to preternatural thinness, was once a streetwise thief. Now, in a world on the edge of catastrophe from centuries of environmental exploitation, they are allies—thrust together by fate to unravel an impossible mystery—even as they are stalked by a relentless killer.
Ingrid and Whispr are hunted fugitives bound together by a thread: a data-storage thread made of a material that cannot exist, yet somehow does. Their quest to learn its secrets—and, in Whispr’s case, sell them to the highest bidder—has brought them to South Africa’s treacherous Namib desert. Beyond its dangers waits a heavily guarded research facility that promises answers, if they can survive long enough to get there. But that won’t be easy, not with Napun Molé on their trail. They’ve already escaped the assassin twice, and as far as Molé is concerned, finishing them off isn’t just a job anymore . . . it’s personal.

Uglies: Cutters by Scott Westerfield and Devin Grayson

Uglies: Cutters (Uglies Graphic Novel #2) written by Scott Westerfeld and Devin Grayson, illustrated by Steven Cummings

The Uglies graphic novels are related to the Uglies novels (Uglies, Pretties, Specials) by Scott Westerfeld but are focused on the character Shay. The first of these graphic novels is titled Shay’s Story.

Uglies: Cutters will be released in paperback on December 4. It is possible to browse through the early part of the book on the publisher’s website.

Experience the riveting, dystopian Uglies series seen as never before—through the eyes of Shay, Tally Youngblood’s closest and bravest friend, who refuses to take anything about society at face value.

“From the moment we are born, we are considered threats in need of ‘special’ management. We are watched and shaped and exploited by a force most of us never see. . . . All to keep us safe. . . . Do you feel safe?! Or do you feel like you’re in a cage?”—Shay

In Pretties, Tally Youngblood and her daring best friend, Shay, both underwent the operation that turned them from ordinary Uglies into stunning beauties. Now this thrilling new graphic novel reveals Shay’s perspective on living in New Pretty Town . . . and the way she sees it, there’s more to this so-called paradise than meets the eye.With the endless parties and custom-made clothes, life as a Pretty should be perfect. Yet Shay doesn’t feel quite right. She has little to no memory of her past; it’s as if something in her brain has inexplicably changed. When she reunites with Tally and the Crims—her rebellious group of friends from Uglyville—she begins to recall their last departure to the wild, and the headstrong leader she used to be. And as she remembers the truth about what doomed their escape, Shay decides to fight back—against the status quo, against the mysterious Special Circumstances, even against her own best friend.

The Eldritch Conspiracy by Cat Adams

The Eldritch Conspiracy (Blood Singer #5) by Cat Adams

The latest installment in the Blood Singer series will be released in paperback and ebook in January 2013. The previous books in the series are as follows:

  1. Blood Song (Read an Excerpt)
  2. Siren Song (Read an Excerpt)
  3. Demon Song (Read an Excerpt)
  4. The Isis Collar (Read an Excerpt)

Celia Graves was once an ordinary human, but those days are long gone. Now she strives to maintain her sanity and her soul while juggling both vampire abilities and the powers of a Siren.  

Not every bride needs a bridesmaid who can double as a bodyguard. But Celia’s cousin Adriana is no ordinary bride: she’s a Siren princess, and she’s marrying the king of a small but politically important European country. She’s getting death threats from fanatics who want to see the whole Siren race wiped out—including Celia herself, who is half Siren.

Luckily, Celia is on duty when a trip to a bridal salon is interrupted by an assassination attempt, so everyone survives. When Adriana returns to the Siren homeland to try to prevent a coup, Celia is free to hunt for the terrorists and the vile mage who is helping them (while keeping her eyes open for the perfect maid-of-honor dress). 

Assuming the bride and groom both live to see their wedding day, this will be one royal wedding no one will ever forget.

I Am Not a Serial Killer
by Dan Wells
320pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 6/10
Amazon Rating: 3.8/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.69/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.74/5

I Am Not a Serial Killer is the first of three John Cleaver books by Dan Wells. It is followed by Mr. Monster and I Don’t Want to Kill You, in that order.

Fifteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver is convinced that fate wants him to become a serial killer. Two serial killers have names that apply to him, his last name is a murder weapon, and he exhibits the classic traits shared by 95% of serial killers: bed-wetting, pyromania, and a tendency to be cruel toward animals. He has a complete lack of empathy, and at a very early age he realized he’s not like other people. For this reason, he made up a set of rules to keep himself from giving in to compulsions that may lead to serial killing. He avoids animals as much as possible, he compliments people when he has the urge to hurt them, and he ignores someone for a week if he finds himself spending a lot of time watching that one person. Fate may seem to want him to become a serial killer, but John is not a serial killer – and is determined to remain that way.

Ever since he was young, John has helped his mother and his aunt with the embalming dead bodies at the mortuary. When a local man is found gruesomely murdered, John gets to see the body firsthand and notices a kidney is missing, leading him to wonder if this is the work of a serial killer. This is indeed the first in a string of murders in John’s hometown, and John becomes obsessed with figuring out what makes this particular killer tick. He’s studied serial killers more than anyone, and perhaps he can figure out a way to stop this killer – even after he discovers the killer’s nature is not at all what he was expecting. Yet the more John becomes involved in learning about this killer, the more it means becoming closer to his dark side than he ever has before. Can he stop the murders without sacrificing the control he’s worked so hard to maintain?

A couple of days before Halloween, I decided it was time to read I Am Not a Serial Killer. It was a good choice for this holiday since it was partially horror/dark contemporary fantasy, plus it featured a main character that was perhaps the creepiest aspect of all. I found it to be an entertaining page-turner that was never boring, yet I only liked it a little bit for some reason. It took me awhile to really figure out why because the way it explored the dark side of the main character seemed exactly like the type of thing I would love. However, it was a very predictable story that was not at all subtle, and that’s where it fell short for me. Of course, there have been times when I’ve still loved a predictable story so I still struggled with why this one didn’t leave me with the urge to read more despite finding it reasonably entertaining. I’ve come to the conclusion that it just didn’t have characters I loved or the large-scale, sweeping story I enjoy so much, and this is partially a case of this just not being a book for me.

The best part of I Am Not a Serial Killer is how the main character’s darker side shows the horrors within people who may seem ordinary on the outside. John is just a fifteen-year-old boy who probably appears like a perfectly nice young man to anyone who doesn’t know about his obsession with serial killers – he goes to high school, he has a best friend, he helps out his mother, and he shovels the snow for the elderly couple next door. Yet underneath all appearances is a person who has no empathy whatsoever, has the desire to cut people open and see what’s inside, and has had to study the world around him in order to figure out what’s normal and how to emulate it. For instance, John has no desire to spend time with the other boy he’s picked to be his best friend, but feels like he needs to do so to blend in and keep from seeming too weird.

In some ways, his character is creepier to read about than the killer in his hometown since it does involve getting inside the head of someone who fits the profile for a serial killer – and believes fate wants him to be one and is fighting against it. Even though John tries to learn how to be a good person, he doesn’t really understand right and wrong. He has to pay attention to what other people consider to be right and wrong and set up rules to keep himself from going too far down the wrong path. As he pursues the killer in this story, he also has to face much of what he fears in himself since he sometimes breaks his rules. He’s a really interesting character, but he does have some dark urges that may keep some from liking him as a character. Between that and his rather clinical view of death, he may not be the easiest person to relate to and he’s certainly not an easy character to forge an emotional connection to.

Despite this, I think I would have found John Wayne Cleaver more compelling if this was my first experience with a fictional character like him. I haven’t read Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books, but I am a huge fan of Dexter, the TV show they are based on. Dexter and John are very similar characters. (Please note this is not to say John is a copycat of Dexter since I rather doubt either character is the first in fiction to fit this mold; Dexter was just the first one I encountered and I think that affected my own experience with this book.) Both John and Dexter realize what they are and follow rules to try to control their behavior, and both of them made up names for their dark side. They are a little different since Dexter’s rules are in place to control the type of person he kills while John’s rules are to keep himself from hurting anyone, and of course, they are in completely different situations in life. However, it is basically the same idea of someone with the personality traits that lead to serial killing facing his dark side and trying to control it. I may have been a bit more intrigued by a character like John if I had not kept comparing him to Dexter, who also has the advantage of being one of my favorite TV characters.

Even if the character type was familiar ground, the story was very different from that on Dexter, although it was not a very original story. I don’t want to give too much away, but one of the reasons I was interested in reading this book was that it apparently had a big twist. After reading it, I was puzzled about why it was considered to be such an unpredictable event since it’s hinted at early on, plus John has already straight-out given it away by the end of chapter three. Once you combine that with a not-so-subtle name, it’s really not hard to figure out what’s coming. The pivotal scene was still a bit creepy since it was told from John’s completely unsuspecting perspective, but I didn’t find what happened at all surprising. Perhaps it was just a case of looking for it too hard since I knew ahead of time there was going to be a major event, but I don’t think so given the references made beforehand.

For such a short book, there’s also a lot of over-explanation and I did feel like it spelled out far more of what was going on than was necessary. It was a quick read so it didn’t seem hugely wordy, but since it’s told from John’s first-person perspective there’s a lot of inner monologue and telling. That’s not to say it commits the crime some books do where it tells readers one thing and shows otherwise since there are touches such as John’s lack of emotional connection keeping him from seeing what’s very obvious. This was a case where the main character missing something made perfect sense and worked well with the character. However, I do think there were times the telling went overboard such as the revelation of the aforementioned case, which didn’t need to include a lot of telling. Of course, it was all told from the perspective of John, and he was working that out for himself so perhaps that’s a bit nitpicky. However, there were times I felt that the book was treating me as if I were too dumb to figure out what was obvious since it explained everything, and I found that mildly irritating.

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a fast-paced book that sets up a very interesting personal struggle for the main character. Yet the actual storyline was not as compelling, plus much of what happened was very predictable. The book held my attention while reading it, but it didn’t get under my skin enough to make me want to pick up the next book in the series, especially considering it was also far from subtle or original. The series does have a lot of fans, and I can see its appeal, but it wasn’t to my taste despite having a lot of elements I usually enjoy, such as a couple of complex characters and dark humor.

My Rating: 6/10

Where I got my reading copy: I bought it.

Read an Excerpt

Other Reviews of I Am Not a Serial Killer:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest

The Inexplicables (A Clockwork Century Novel) by Cherie Priest

The Inexplicables will be released in trade paperback and ebook on November 13. An excerpt from the book is available online.

This is the fourth novel of the Clockwork Century, and there have been some shorter stories in this same setting. Each book in this steampunk series is supposed to stand alone, although it is also supposed to be helpful to read Boneshaker before any of the others. The novels following Boneshaker are Dreadnought and Ganymede. Clementine, a shorter book, was originally released as a hardcover limited edition and was difficult to find for awhile, but it was recently re-released in paperback. It is also now available as an ebook and an audiobook. “Tanglefoot,” one of the Clockwork Century short stories, can be read online.

If you haven’t yet read Boneshaker (which may be made into a movie!), you can read an excerpt from that as well.

I haven’t read any of the Clockwork Century books, but they sound rather interesting.

Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him. Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.

The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there’s the monster. Rector’s pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply “The Inexplicables.”

In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall — just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there’s gold to be found in the city and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.

Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles #5) by Kevin Hearne

This urban fantasy will be released in mass market paperback, ebook, and audiobook on November 27. An excerpt from Trapped is available online.

The first four books in this series are:

  1. Hounded
  2. Hexed
  3. Hammered
  4. Tricked

There is also a related novella, Two Ravens and One Crow.

After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.

Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.