Monday, 24 March 2014

ARC Review: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.
Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Series: None
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: April 1st 2014

Rating: 2.5 stars


I was disappointed in certain aspects of Dear Killer. This is one of those books that is incredibly hard to review, because I just have no idea how to kick this review off and get the words flowing. So I made a little list with the most important parts:

The Characters

Overall, I thought Dear Killer featured solid characters. However, I really failed to connect to Kit. That could of course be logical, since she's a killer, but I felt that it could have been possible to connect to her more emotionally. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and it really affected my enjoyment of the novel. That is not to say that Kit is an awful character or that I disliked this book, but especially that ending would have been much more emotionally powerful had I connected to Kit. However, the way Ewell makes you root for a serial killer was really well done. All throughout the book, you don't want Kit to get caught, which is strange. After all, she is a serial killer. Still, you don't want her to end up in prison, and that's really interesting for the reader. What does this say about us? That as long as you are in the killer's head you will root for them, no watter what they do? Is there a dark side in us that comes out while reading the book?  It was interesting, and Dear Killer will definitely cause the readers to think about themselves. 

However, aside from the inability to connect with Kit, I had one major complaint about her. This girl is sixteen and she's just about the most succesful serial killer ever. She never leaves traces behind and never gets caught and no-one has a clue. I found this to be quite unbelievable, especially since Kit is a bit sloppy in her kills. Take for example that time where she did know how to kill a person but forgot that she needed a way out as well, or the time she kills someone in an alley next to a busy street. Or the chunks of information she gave away about herself, or befriending a policeman. She makes a couple of kills that would make anyone suspicious of her, and I thought it was incredibly stupid. I get that Kit was slowly changing and even questioning what she did, but even I saw that was stupid. And I'm not the one with the life-long killer training.

The Plot

This was an aspect I really enjoyed. Kit's development was gradual and believable. I really loved how she started questioning things herself, because all too often the love interest makes the main character see things more clearly. Not in Dear Killer. Kit does basically anything mostly on her own: she was very independent, and I loved it. The way she slowly changed was really well done and the ending was pretty powerful (although it would have been way more powerful had I connected to Kit).

There was an aspect of the plot that I didn't quite believe in: the letters. Although I really liked the idea of them, I couldn't believe the things that were written in them. Everbody who asks the "Perfect Killer" to kill for them knows that that letter will end up with  the dead body. So I found it hard to believe that some people wrote "please kill my sister" or "please kill my fiancé" because they were extremely traceable this way. I'm not really sure how the law works in cases like these, but I can imagine that you wouldn't want people to know that you basically hired someone to kill a specific person.

The Romance

There wasn't one. I KNOW. A YA book without romance: it exists! Although Alex may have sort of been a love interest, they never get on with it. There's nothing more than a squirmish feeling and tingles, and even those are few and far between. It was so refreshing! No romance, no angst, no clichés. I loved it.


This was a really enjoyable story, and Kit was a well-developed character that changed in a slow and believable way. I also really loved that there basically was no romance, even though you can ship Kit and Alex would you want to. It was extremely refreshing because every YA features a romance nowadays! There were a couple of things I didn't really like: how unbelievable certain aspects of the story were, and that I failed to connect to Kit. Unfortunately, I think both things are pretty important and it affected my enjoyment of the novel. This was a solid read, and a very refreshing and original book!

Thank you, Katherine Tegen Books, for the digital review copy! No money or favors were exchanged to alter this review. 


  1. Oh I'm sorry that you weren't able to enjoy this book more Celine, I normally need some sort of connection with the MC too in order for a book to work for me. But the author did well in not including a romance in the story, I haven't read a book without a romance in a long time! Thanks for the honest review! :)

  2. Aw, dang, I'm really excited for this book. :/ So far I haven't read ANY reviews were people loved it. *le sigh* I'm still going to read it (because the blurb/cover absolutely call to me) but I'm a bit sad that the plot isn't tight. And not connecting to the characters always bums me out. I LOVE characters! It's sad when they lack that extra spark.

  3. I do think the aspects you weren't a fan of might bother me too ,but I'm still really fascinated by the story so I think I'll try and read it sometime. Thanks for your honest thoughts.


  4. Blurgh, this book. I agree with pretty much everything you said there :D But the romance was just a no no for me. It wasn't really there, but I didn't feel like it needed to be there. I guess there was development in Kit's character, but her stupidity was enough for me lol.

    Lovely review, Celine! <33


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