Title: A Guide for Murdered Children
Author: Sarah Sparrow
Publisher: Penguin Group Blue Rider Press & Plume, Blue Rider Press
Date of publication: March 20th, 2018
Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Number of pages: 400
POV: 3rd person
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
Trigger Warning: Child murder, rape
A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow is one of those books that make you think while reading it. It is a soul-searching book about redemption, revenge and the ability to forgive. I almost didn’t ask for this book when I saw it on NetGalley. But it kept showing up. I had an email about it and it kept being the first book I saw on my Titles in My Category section on my NetGalley homepage. It was after the 3rd or 4th time seeing it that I gave into my growing curiosity and read the blurb. It was then that I knew I wanted to read it. When I got the confirmation email for the publisher, I got very excited and couldn’t wait to read it. But I held off because I had other books to review there were ahead of it. So when I did read it, I was more than ready for the story.
There are 4 separate plot lines in A Guide for Murdered Children. I enjoyed was how the author introduced each storyline. Then she weaved those storylines into the other ones. When all 4 storylines were brought together, well the magic happened. I couldn’t get over how well the author wove them together. It was flawless.
A Guide for Murdered Children is a mystery/thriller in the truest sense. This book kept me on edge with the mystery plotline. When it was revealed who it was, I was shocked but not surprised. I had thought that person was the killer since the middle of the book. But, what did shock me, was who the other murderer was and who the accomplice was. I was not ready for that reveal at all. I did not sleep well the first night I was reading the book. I kept dreaming about porters, train cars, and awful serial killers.
Willow, oh Willow. I didn’t want to like him. At the beginning of the book, he came across as a self-absorbed idiot who had gone through his 3rd attempt at rehab. I kinda wanted to punch him in the nether regions when it was revealed how awful he was. He made no excuses for being a d-bag and I liked that. What surprised me about him was that he was a medium. He heard voices, saw mysterious blue lights and felt pulled to do things that he wouldn’t normally do. So when he got involved with Cold Case, I was a tad surprised. I was even more surprised when the first case that he was drawn to was the case of two siblings, Troy and Maya.
Annie was the most serene character that I have read to date. She took everything in stride and was always gracious. I found myself wishing that I could meet her because she was lovely. She cared for the children on the train like they were her own. When they found their landlords, she was there to guide them towards their moment of balance. So when it was revealed that she had troubles when she was younger, I was surprised. But seeing that it was connected to her ability to connect to the other side, I shouldn’t have been surprised. She was a willing mentor to Willow and dealt with his….problems…..with graciousness. So saying that I liked her was a bit of an understatement.
The saddest part of the book for me was the children and their landlords. I couldn’t understand why the children chose the people they did. But, after reading a few “takeovers“, for lack of a better word, I began to understand. I started to understand Annie‘s role in guiding the children and their landlords. I also saw the need for the guide, the meetings, and the parties when a child reaches his/her moment of balance. The guide explained what the child was going through, gave rules on how to share the body with the landlord and so on.
The book focuses on 3 children and their landlords. The children are Maya, Troy, and Winston. The landlords are Lydia, Daniel, and Honeychile. While Maya and Troy’s landlords were adults, Winston’s was not. Honeychile was a 14-year-old who suffers from a genetic condition called cleidocranial dysplasia. According to Annie, having a teenage landlord is unheard of and could potentially be dangerous. Meanwhile, Maya and Troy’s landlords are police officers on the same force. They are also in a relationship. I did think it was very interesting how everyone was connected.
While there are sex and romance in the book, it isn’t the main focus. Daniel and Lydia’s romance cooled off once the children took up house and realized who they were to each other. Willow did have a relationship going with a neighbor of his, Dixie. Like I said above, sex wasn’t the main focus of the book. I was fine with that. I do like that the author chose to keep Willow and Dixie in a relationship until almost the end of the book. There is a small twist there that shocked me.
My complaint about A Guide for Murdered Children is not one that will take stars off of my review. I did have some issues following the different characters around the book. Even when the author labeled the chapters and sub-chapters. That is on my end and like I said, nothing that will affect my review rating.
The end of the book was not what I expected. I was expecting an ending with everything tied up with a bow. For the most part, I got that. The serial killers were found out and the cold case of Maya and Troy were solved. As was Winston’s case. But, the author did something that I wasn’t expecting. She explored the aftermath of what happened during the book. Not everyone got a happy ending and that is what made the book for me. I am hoping that the author chooses to write another Willow Wylde book because I would love to see what happens with Willow and his Eskimo!!!
My Summary of A Guide for Murdered Children:
A Guide of Murdered Children was a thrilling read. A very fast paced book, I was engrossed with it and the concept that the author wrote about. The plotlines were great and the characters were 3D. This is a book that I would recommend to any mystery fans.
Will I reread: Yes
Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes
Age range: Adult
Why: Language, sex, violence. There are a few very gruesome scenes of children and men being murdered.
I would like to thank Sarah Sparrow, Penguin Group, Blue Rider Press, Plume and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review A Guide for Murdered Children
All opinions stated in this review of A Guide for Murdered Children are mine and I received no compensation for this review
**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**