A Guide for Murdered Children

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

Unfortunately could not get into this book - it didn't grab me and the Kindle formatting was weird - my apologies!
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A Guide for Murdered Children has a fantastic premise and a lot of potential. It was a little bit of a push to read; I wish I liked it more!
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A book with a really interesting premise that never manages to live up to its potential. It got very hyped up as a scary book, horror-esque, and what we get is a lackluster smattering of ideas with nothing to bind them together. Also didn't have nearly high enough stakes for me to care as the book went on. We're given the idea that crazy things are happening, but it'll all be fine in the end at the start of the book. Kinda takes the wind out of anything we might see later. Too many plot lines, not enough plot. I had really been hoping for more.
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Though I liked the book, I made the decision at the time I finished not to review it on my site. Maybe in the future I will include it in a book list post or another article.
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2.5 stars. 

I made through about 75% of the book before I realized that life is too short and quit. The premise is really interesting but it is a slog. It took me a solid third of the book to realize how all the characters and their stories were going to hang together. This book had a lot of potential, but I couldn't force myself to plow through it.
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Thanks to my association as a book blogger with NetGalley, I get to read books that I ordinarily wouldn't catch on social media or see in the store.  Today's post is about A Guide for Murdered Children: A Novel by Sarah Sparrow, an author I had never heard of before.  I'll admit, the cover of the book drew me with it being pink and all, and then add the sparkles AND the unicorn and bam! it became a "must read" for me!

..... don't let that pretty cover fool you though...this book isn't one you'll find in a little girl's nursery.... Sarah Sparrow covers some topics that are not for everyone in this book - it depicts rape, abuse, and murder towards children.  Nothing very pretty at all. In fact, this is a story about revenge, added with some policy procedural with a dash of fantasy thrown in.

This wasn't the type of book I find interesting - not thrilled with anything in the fantasy spectrum, and really don't like anything about the torture of children. I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but this book was just not my style. I'm not saying it wasn't a good book though, I'm just saying it wasn't a book for me.

I received an advanced readers digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to provide a positive review but I chose to because it was a great book!! Thank you NetGalley!
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The novel is recounted in the third person and begins with a writing style is difficult to appreciate and appears to read as a stream of consciousness. I grappled with the presentation of the first few chapters, trying to grasp onto words that seemed to be placed together with a forced atmosphere of chaos. Even though the pace is slow, the narrative jogs all over the place. There are alternating stories, multiple points of view, and timelines. Finally, there is an abundance of characters within characters and their full set of details which created confusion. I was forced to read and re-read. And sometimes I moved on and it made sense later. The chapter headings and sub-headings were helpful but not always. 

But where the narrative fails in structure, it makes up in character development and imagination. I enjoyed Detective Willow, a character you can both love and despise at the same time. A loathsome man is attempting to reassert his place in his neglected family. His love is palpable as he rediscovers relationships. As a retired old cop, he takes a chance at getting his old job back but knows he is washed up. Middle age makes him feel invisible. But he has a gift of voices he has been suppressing. 

Other noteworthy characters in the novel are a murderous duo. Laverne and Grundy's creepy rituals may keep me up at night. Although the descriptions of their killing are not gruesome, it is hair-raising and sinister. 

Finally, The structure of the spirit world was impressive world building. There was a feeling of strangeness, and it was believable. The transparent hue of the Blue Earth, the train arriving at the station in dreams, the whispers of instruction, the Tom Collins and a cookie on a tray, the integration of body and spirit. The spooky and surreal ambiance was on point.

Overall, there is a mystery, mysticism, and some gruesome brutality. A great concept to juxtapose the paranormal/science fiction genre with horror. It fell short in the structure, but the story still unfolds, and those bits are brilliant. Not for the faint heart and for those who prefer a more streamlined read.
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The title of this book drew me in but unfortunately the story just wasn’t for me. This is purely my opinion and I know others will enjoy the read.
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I just could not finish this book. I wanted to love it, and the premise sounded great... but it just strayed too far from where it started.
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At first it was a bit difficult to get into. The writing was a bit all over the place,  but once I got used to it, I loved it’s unique voice.  Not at all what I expected. Great story.
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Strange deaths have been occurring in Saggerty Falls, Michigan. Willow Wylde, an ex-NYPD detective and recovering alcoholic fresh out of rehab, tries to start anew and takes a job running the cold case team in this Detroit suburb. However, he is still dealing with the demons of his recovery and is very self-destructive. 

The most amazing quality about this book is the extremely unique, one-of-a-kind, and interesting plot. I have never read a story like this before. There is a guide book that is adhered to and provides order. There’s the Porter, Annie Ballendine; Tenants, which are the souls of murdered children; Landlords, recently deceased adults; and much more. A murdered child finds a recently deceased adult, revives him, they live together as “tenant and landlord”, the child locates his or her murderer, and exacts their “moment of balance”. Sounds complicated, right? Well, in a way it is, so paying close attention to the details is key. 

The imagination that went into constructing this story and this other world is impressive and fantastically written. I am always in awe when an author creates such an incredible level of detail. Also, I enjoyed the character development and although there are a lot of characters, you still get a good understanding of each of them. Sound interesting? Well, it is. 

The overall structure of the book is where things get a little rough as there are multiple perspectives, alternating timelines, and stories. My main issue is with the editing, but my guess is that it is corrected for the finished copy. Also, be prepared as this book does contain sensitive material such as rape, abuse, and the murder of children (obviously), so proceed with caution. Ultimately, I enjoyed the book for the originality, depth, and imagination. It is truly a horrifying, heartbreaking, and twisted read.
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Thank you to Penguin Group Blue Rider Press for providing me with a copy of Sarah Sparrow's novel, A Guide for Murdered Children, in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT- Willow Wade is a recovering alcoholic and former cop trying to get his life back together. His friend and current husband to Wade's ex-wife, convinces him to take a job in a cold-case unit in Detroit. Wade, who has psychic abilities, soon realizes that something very unusual is happening with regard to the cold cases of children who have been murdered. The murdered children are coming back for revenge.

LIKE- A Guide for Murdered Children is oozing with creativity and different from any novel that I've previously read. I love the concept that Sparrow has created: murdered children are able to live again through the bodies of recently deceased adults, adults who have died in a manner where no one else knows that they have died. For example, a woman is jogging and collapses,  but she rises from the dead to resume her life with this murdered child inside of her and no one else knows. The murdered child must work with the newly dead adult to exact revenge on the child's murderer before either body can have peace.

When the child takes over the adult's body, the adult's behavior changes. If the adult had been in a relationship, they are now no longer interested in being intimate with their partner. To the child inside of them, they can't grasp sexual intimacy. It's gross! The child may cause them to eat funny, such as one character who begins to favor gummy bears. I loved this creative element, where the adult and child are in equal shares trying to live through this one body. There is a poignant moment where it is mentioned that the children will experience sensations through the adult body, that they never had a chance to live long enough to do.

I love the concept of having the children meet at an AA type meeting, where they are guided through the process of being inside an adult and their goal of finding their murder. There were many plots twists that I did not anticipate. I don't normally take issue with scary stories, but I found myself unable to read A Guide for Murdered Children, when I was home alone. It's rather disturbing and unsettling. Even writing this review now (while I'm home alone at night) is giving me the chills.

DISLIKE- There were  times where I couldn't keep track of the large volume of characters and subplots. It made it a story that was an effort to read, rather than one that I could get lost inside. A Guide for Murdered Children has a lot going on and I'm not sure that it is all necessary. The pacing is uneven, sometimes breakneck speed and other times very sluggish. 

RECOMMEND- Yes. A Guide for Murdered Children is likely going to be very unique from any story that you've previously read and Sparrow's abundance of creativity shines above the pacing problems. This is a great pick for people who enjoy detective stories and don't mind if it's on the unsettling, creepy side.
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Let's start with the cover of this book.  It definitely drew me in originally and I had to read it.  However, the story just wasn't quite for me.  I believe it was a creative idea and intriguing plot but it just did not work for me.  I am hoping that others will love it though but it still has my favorite cover so far this year.
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This book was definitely outside of my usual fare. In fact, it was down right bizarre, and rather violent for my tastes. I by no means hated it, but I never really reached a point where I fell in love with it either. The plot jumps around various POVs but essentially, it surmises what would happen if the souls of murdered children came back into host bodies and were able to take revenge on those who had killed them (and likely others). In addition to viewpoints from some of these souls, we also follow Willow Wylde, a disgraced, alcoholic detective fresh out of rehab, working cold cases, and trying to figure out why his new rookies are so keen on their first case.

Let me just say first and foremost, that if violence towards children (some sexual) & graphic descriptions thereof are something that triggers you, then be warned that this book is rather graphic in a lot of its imagery and intensely hard to read at times. There is a story, but it also meanders along, coming to the central mystery every once in awhile, but also flitting back and forth through time and multiple people’s experiences. It was a decent read, but I never really felt myself sucked in until the very end. When the end did come, however, the whole book did finally make a kind of sense, though it made you wonder about the kind of universe in which these things occur.

Overall, it was a solid read, even though it was a bit intense at times. I really feel like a book like this is aimed at certain kind of reader, and I’m not sure I was that person. I am glad I finished it, and it provided a lot of food for thought. I find myself returning to it every once in awhile in my head, and I think it will stick with me.

Note: I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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This is a very well-written book, with a lively style like a cross between Tom Robbins and Christopher Moore. The concept is very intriguing and the way the world and story unwind are thrilling. But I had to stop about half way. Once the brutal details of the children's lives and murders are included more and more it was just too graphic and dark for me. This goes on my shelf of books that are just too good at what they're doing for me to finish, next to the heartbreakingly beautiful Let The Right One In.
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This is probably not a book you want to try reading on an e-reader.  While I loved the premise that perhaps the souls of those who have been wronged and murdered can come back to wreak revenge on those that harmed them... this book is all kinds of crazy. A serious DNF, I really could not figure out for the life of me what the heck was going on. Maybe it was trying to read it on an iPad.... maybe I just couldn't stomach a lot of the plot... Either way, a well-written blurb/description/premise, but an execution that was just not for me.
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I wanted to like this book, but, as silly as it may seem, the formatting in the Kindle edition was too disjointed and fragmented to keep me engaged in the plot. The plot sounds great, and what I did manage to read was enjoyable. I'm giving 3 stars because I can tell the book was headed in the right direction. I look forward to reading it in its published format.
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There is a trend happening with my March releases, and I am not certain I like it. I do not know if it is a coincidence, a reflection of the current state of the world, or if publishers are deliberately selecting such novels to release at the same time. Either way, this trend is not for the faint of heart, weak of stomach, and sensitive in nature. To what am I referring? I am referring to the fact that almost every novel I have read that was published in March covers disturbing topics and does so without trying to soften any imagery. The latest in this trend is A Guide for Murdered Children.

Do not let the cover fool you. This is not a sweet novel with a happy ending for everyone. This is a dark, dark novel. Between the deaths of the adult landlords, the deaths of the children, and the figurative demons that haunt our hero, there is very little joy and too much pain. In addition, the language is stark, almost clinical in nature, which serves to enhance the feeling of bleakness that permeates the pages. To make matters even graver, Ms. Sparrow is unflinching in her portrayal of violence, especially of that done to the children. She may not describe every scene in great detail, but sometimes sentences which have the appearance of being throwaway ones contain much more information than we ever want, need, or anticipate. This all makes for a novel that you can read only during an emotionally removed state. To read it while fully empathetic is to open yourself up to too much pain and sorrow.

Yet, there is a real need to carefully read A Guide for Murdered Children for it is not an easy novel to understand. The story flits from Willow's point of view to various deaths to the Porter who runs interference and guides the newly returned children through their last mission. At first, there is too much to absorb, and you are left with one too many WTF moments as you work to understand what is happening. Eventually, the shifts in perspective and narrative make sense, and you find yourself settling into the task of following Willow as he makes his way ever closer to his purpose. However, the chore that is reading the first few chapters means paying closer attention to everything, setting yourself up for heartache and stomachache.

A Guide for Murdered Children is not an easy book to like and it is most definitely not for everyone, yet I find myself strangely drawn to reflect upon the story and its commentary on justice. The crimes against the children, even though obliquely mentioned, still linger within my memory, but I cannot let go of this odd story. Ms. Sparrow raises so many questions and provides few answers, and I am okay with this. Her story about lost souls who are able to return to achieve a state of balance is hopeful, if bleak, and I think we need hopeful right now. Rather, I need hopeful right now. Besides, as appalling as the children's deaths are, there is a strange satisfaction to be had by the fact that they are able to find peace. It is even more satisfying that Willow is able to find peace. It means that there is good to be found in this world, even if it is difficult to see.
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So I was looking around on NetGalley and this cover called me to check it out! Pink and the title says A Guide for Murdered Children well I knew I needed to check out the blurb to see if it would be something good. 
It took me a good 54 to 60 percent into the book to actually get into it and start to truly understand what really was going on. We have adults who have died and children who have died take their place yet the adult who died is still there sort of. Though the child will get a moment of balance when they get the person who murdered them and pretty much will get the peace they deserve. I thought it was a neat idea. 

Though for some reason it just seem to drag on and there wasn't really anything cool or interesting happening until towards the end, where we learn that one person has two souls that have entered him and everything seems to come full circle. 

As far as characters go I didn't really get into them too much, Willow just didn't seem to be on point very much and was torn between being down on his luck, being friendly with his ex, to trying too solve a cold case. Yet there never seem to be much going on what they really had or actually interviewing people. 
It was kind of weird that the children would engage in adult behaviors while inhabiting the body of the adult yet I could understand why they were doing it to keep up appearances. 
These children are guided by a porter and follow a guide that gives them advice on how to take care of the body they are in, and what they should be doing. 
The changing of the characters names in the middle of paragraphs bothered me and I really had to pay attention to who was actually talking. Example being Maya would be talking then all of a sudden the name would switch to Lydia who is the adult that Maya took over. Not sure if the author was just reminding us that there were two people in the same mind frame or not, yet it sometimes was confusing. 
The author seems to have a good way of writing a story yet I feel as though she overdid it with just way too much of different things trying to come together in one. 
I would have liked more backstory on the porters especially Annie because she seems like a mysterious being. 
Overall 2 stars, I think with a bit of polishing up this could be a good story to give out to the readers.
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My review is a 3.5.   The book is hard to understand at first.   I have read other books like start like this book where  the book starts out with several stories   In  the beginning it is hard to see how this bits and pieces come together.   If this this were my only issue with the book I would give it a four.

The book has a lot of potential.    This novel has an interesting and different premise.   The book had both suspense and humor.   I liked some of the characters.   

However, the book had some major flaws.   The first is the number of murdered children.   The novel seems to imply that there are many groups for murdered children across the country with about five members each year. passing through each group.  This statistic is way too high.   Maybe if it was one meeting location in New York City where all the murdered children from everywhere in the US attended.,  the novel  might be believable..   

The other part of the novel that I did not like is that it raised many questions that it did not answer.   Some situations the book presents are supposedly very irregular  I wanted to see how and if things returned to the books normal.   I wanted a better resolution and closure in the book.
In short, I felt this was a book with some very good parts but failed to pull all its different themes effectively  together.   Also I found some of the premises of the book unbelievable even though it is a fantasy novel.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
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