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Synopsis from goodreads
The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.
But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects.
Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price.
I read two reviews about this book before I decided to get it from NetGalley. What really grabbed my interest is the fact that Pretty Wicked by Kelly Charron is narrated from the serial killer’s point of view. It reminded me a lot of You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes that have the same kind of narration. As reader’s we get to see things from Ryann’s perspective. This POV explains her reasons for the murders. It is both chilling and intriguing to get lost in such a twisted mind and see things her way.
There are a few chapters in the book which give an alternative POV. One of the detectives, Estevez is onto Ryann. Estevez is not only investigating the murders but also happens to be partners with Ryann’s dad. His chapters come later in the book when the suspicions surrounding Ryann start.
The story is pretty straight forward because it is obvious who the killer is. The motives are also sort of spelled out in the blurb; she wanted to commit the perfect murders. However, this doesn’t make the story predictable or boring. It was still quite interesting to read about how she executed each kill and how she picked the victims. The fact that the blurb mentions that she got careless made it a bit obvious that she would get caught but I found myself glued to the story to find out how it would all go down.
I also liked how the story is narrated in such a way that the readers are in the know but the other characters aren’t. Watching Ryann interact with other people who didn’t know that other side of her was quite remarkable. It reminded me of Dexter and how he used to commit murders and then join his family for dinner and go to work at the police department where his crimes were being investigated. Ryann is cold and calculating. She enjoys each kill and the devastation that occurs with each one.
Ryann as a main character was likeable despite her twisted crimes. The fact that the story is narrated from her point of view makes it easy to connect with her and sort of get her reasons behind the murders. I found myself rooting for her especially in the first chapters. However, towards the end, I started to dislike her smugness. I found it annoying. There is also a particular case that involved a fire that also got to me. This made me start wishing that she would get outsmarted and caught. She kept making so many mistakes so I just knew that it would happen. The tension was still so think through this chapters as she got close to her end.
“Some Killers are Made. Some Killers are Born.”
The book mentions a number of infamous serial killers though history that Ryann looks up to. There are mentions of Bundy, Cindy Collier and Shirley Wolf, Gary and Jack the Ripper. There is also a mention of Mary Bell, one of the youngest serial killers who was eleven years old at the time of her murders. Ryann looks up to these killers and tries to be like them. If you read Bell’s case, she killed a little boy and then went to the family to taunt them even asking if she can see the body in the coffin. One of Ryann’s first kills sort of reminded me of this case when she tried to put herself in a position to witness the grief of her victim’s loved ones. Kelly Charron’s profile on goodreads describes her as a True Crime fan so it was great to see how this was incorporated into the story. The book also makes a reference to Criminal Minds which is one of my favorite shows. It was nice to see how this was included and how the show had turned some of the young characters into BAU specialists.
Pretty Wicked by Kelly Charron is a dark, twisted thriller. It is described as YA although it is quite dark hence seems more suitable for a mature audience or at least teens over the age of sixteen. If you like thrillers then this one is for you. However, do keep in mind that it is narrated in a YA voice so it is a bit different from the usual adult thrillers. Ryann is not like Dexter or Joe Carol although she is still meticulous and cold just like them. The fact that she is young, intelligent,seemingly adorable cheerleader by day but killer by night makes her creepier than other serial killers. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful, very dark, suspenseful read. I can’t wait for the second book in the series, Wicked Fallout.
Thank you to Dark Arts and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange of a honest review.
Title: Pretty Wicked
Author: Kelly Charron
Publisher: Dark Arts
Publication: September 30, 2016
Genre: YA, Thriller
About Kelly Charron
Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.