Dan Wells is a cool guy. I first discovered him while listening to the Writing Excuses podcast with Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, and Mary Robinette Kowal several years ago, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him in person at a few conventions.
I haven’t discussed the fiction of Dan Wells on my blog in much detail up to this point, but I’m a huge fan of his I Am Not A Serial Killer books. They’re creepy, they’re funny, they’re surprisingly deep and humanizing despite what they might appear to be on the surface, and they tell a fantastic story. Set up as thriller-style YA murder mysteries, a teenage sociopath named John Cleaver hunts down supernatural monsters while trying to keep his own violent and anti-social tendencies in check.
Over Your Dead Body brings John Cleaver and his pre-Marcy high school obsession Brooke closer than ever, developing these two broken characters and their relationship in surprising ways during their adventures to hunt down the Withered. The ending, of course, is a little heart wrenching. This is a horror book, after all. But it’s another fantastic addition to the I Am Not A Serial Killer universe.
It’s difficult to write a good trilogy, let alone a solid continuation of an original series. Dan Wells has done a masterful job expanding his series into new territory. The more I read about John Cleaver and his terrifying adventures, as well as his inner journey to balance the monster he could become with the protector of humanity and monster-slayer he wants to be, the more I fall in love with these characters. I can’t wait for the next installment!
Part of what I love so much about this series is that this author is so good at exploring and drawing something beautiful and meaningful (as well as terrifying) out of the pain of human experience, particularly concepts of mental illness. I don’t know much about sociopathy, but I’ve struggled with depression and have various family members who have struggled with mental illness, even going back a few generations. I love that this author is willing to have a discussion through storytelling about both what makes mental illness scary and sad, as well as what makes it interesting and human. He’s the sort of author that makes the horror genre beautiful because of its potential to explore the darkness and find the contrasting light of human nature’s potential in the midst.
Well done, Wells! Again, I’m a huge, huge fan of this series—it’s definitely one of my favorite sets of books. (In fact, I should probably put the series down on my little “favorite books” list under my About Me tab.)
You can pick up a copy of Over Your Dead Body, or any of the I Am Not A Serial Killer books here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Over-Your-Dead-Body-Cleaver/dp/0765380692
Or you could do what I did and listen to the amazing Kirby Heyborne narrate this book over here on Audible: