Thanks to NetGalley and Dark Arts Publishing for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 30th, 2016
Synopsis: 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 town of Colorado has ever seen.
But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes her 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 everyone else–or she’ll pay the ultimate price.
Some people are called to certain things in their life. That’s what hunting is for me. An urge. A desire. The closest thing I have to a calling.
My name is Ryann Wilkanson. I’m fifteen years old.
And I’m a killer.
And with that chilling opening, you know this isn’t going to be your typical YA novel. Oh sure. Ryann may look all perky and polished.
You know. The cheerleader. The straight-A student. The girl everyone wants to be. But inside she is seriously twisted.
She’s been planning her first murder since she was nine-years-old and was helping her older sister babysit a neighbor’s annoying little girl. Studying up on serial killers by watching true crime specials, she idolizes the likes of John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper. She dreams of the day when she can start her own reign of terror in her small Colorado town, and now she feels the time is right.
Starting with the little girl, who’s now twelve, she proceeds to cut a bloody swath through her town, reveling in each kill. But, as the body count rises and Ryann grows more and more confident, she starts making some pretty rudimentary mistakes, and she becomes desperate to turn suspicion away from herself.
What ultimately shocked me the most about this story, is that in some incredibly bizarre way, I kind of liked Ryann. I actually found myself rooting for her at times. Oh God! I know! That’s just so wrong! Most of the book is told from her perspective so you really get an inside look at what makes her tick. Okay, yes she’s a complete psychopath, but she realizes exactly what she is and is completely comfortable with it. She knows precisely how to play people and also has this wickedly black sense of humor which had me laughing out loud a couple of times, especially when she’s fangirling over famous serial killers. I know how demented that sounds, but trust me. If you decide to read this, you’ll know exactly what I mean. I also felt a little sorry for her. The youngest daughter of a respected police detective, she just can’t seem to step out from under her sister’s shadow. Nothing she does seems good enough, and it’s obvious how this plays into her psychosis. Surprisingly, for all the carnage that unfolds, there’s very little blood and gore, and best of all, no adorable pets are killed. So, if you’re an animal lover like me you can heave a sigh of relief. There’s also a secondary mystery involving a secret admirer who knows exactly what Ryann has been up to, which adds an additional intriguing layer to an already mesmerizing story. As Ryann became more and more sloppy in choosing her victims and covering up her kills, I knew she was going to eventually get caught, although I was half expecting her to pull a rabbit out of her hat and charm herself out of the corner she had painted herself into. I couldn’t tear myself away until the exciting conclusion. I began reading around 8:00 p.m and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning because I just had to know how everything turned out.
In the end, while Ryann may be down, you just know she’s definitely not out. Thankfully there’s going to be a sequel, Wicked Fallout, which hopefully will be out next year. Pretty Wicked is going on my short list of favorite books of 2016. I highly recommend this for older teens and adults who are in the mood for a dark read with an anti hero you’ll find yourself becoming reluctantly enthralled with. I guarantee Ryann won’t be a character you’ll forget anytime soon!