June 18, 2014

Review: 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.

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Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
Publication Date:  April 1, 2014
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books

Available for Purchase:

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** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

Gabby-2013The premise for author Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer sounded interesting and I went into the novel not quite sure what to expect. The idea of having a character who is literally the perfect killer who can get away with any murder she commits sounded pretty awesome. The fact that it’s just a tiny teenage girl sounded even better. However after finishing the novel I have to admit that it wasn’t what I expected in the slightest.

Dear Killer is the story of a teenage girl named Kit. A rich man’s daughter and the daughter to a woman who was once London’s perfect killer. Since then, Kit’s mother has trained her to become the next perfect killer who receives letters that read Dear Killer… and ask Kit to assassinate a person that the sender believes is fit to die. Each killing comes with a price. While the pay is nice and the thrill of the kill sates Kit’s hunger, she leaves behind the letter at the site of the murder as true payment. Then, Kit is sent a letter than makes her question everything she has ever known. Everything her mother has ever taught her and every rule she has ever followed soon becomes blurred as Kit tries to figure out where she truly stands.

I had high hopes for Dear Killer. I was hoping for a novel that would be about a strong female character who would carry the story and have a quick pace. However, Dear Killer wasn’t exactly that. There is no denying that Kit is a skilled martial artist and that some of her thought processes are brilliant but she falls into a category that I can’t exactly stand behind: she’s a Mary Sue.

For those who don’t know what that means, Kit is a character who is conventionally perfect. Perfect face. Perfect bod. Perfect life. Miss perfect. Because of this, not only is Kit a character who is cocky and arrogant (which is fine, in fact I love those traits in characters) but she comes off as a character without flaws. I have to say that this is the reason I couldn’t enjoy Dear Killer as much as I would have liked. Kit does a lot of questionable things that don’t scream “Perfect killer” but instead make the reader scream “Girl, what the heck are you doing?” Half of the events that bring about Kit’s downfall are brought on by the protagonist herself.

Apart from this, there are a few plot holes in the novel that made the realism of there being a ‘perfect killer’ not as realistic. The most prominent of them being the fact that letters are sent to Kit’s household for her to see who wants to be killed off. This raises the question of: a) Is her address just available for people who are looking for a killer? and b) how have the police not used the fact that the killer’s address is available to… track the killer? Not only this leaves me uncertain of Kit’s reputation as the perfect killer but the fact that many of the killing scenes (though very well-written) didn’t exactly seem as flawless in hindsight.

Ewell’s writing is one of the few positive things in the novel. Her writing is smooth, concise and flows well. There were instances where the plot would be in a decent place and Ewell’s writing would leave me able to envision everything playing out in my mind like a movie. I really hope that Ewell will write more in the future. Her writing style is unique and I would love to see more of it in a different story.

Dear Killer ends on a cliff-hanger. I will admit that it wasn’t what I expected but I’m not sure how I feel about a sequel. Regardless, I would recommend Dear Killer to readers who are fans of action and mystery novels and to any readers who want to read a novel from the point of view of a character conflicted with what is right and wrong.



18-year-old author of YA thriller DEAR KILLER, to be published by HarperCollins in April 2014. Stanford freshman, horse lover, avid reader, science and sci-fi lover, girly-girl, geek.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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