by Kelly Charron
YA Killer Thriller
The daughter of a local police detective, 15-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.
Mature YA. *Some graphic content
“This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”
-Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE
"Pretty Wicked is fresh, thrilling, and deeply haunting. I've never read anything like it! The story escalates from page one and will leave your pulse pounding as you wonder just how far Ryann will go. 5/5 stars."
-Tiana Warner | Author of Ice Massacre & Ice Crypt
Olivia and I had almost reached the dimmest,
most secluded part of the alleyway. As we
walked, I scanned the area for anyone who might
later identify me or remember the two of us. So far
we were alone. Not many people strolled the back
alleys at night, which was exactly why I’d chosen
this particular backdrop on a surveillance trip a few
weeks before. Huge trees shielded us from the light
of the few street lamps. Long wooden fences
separated the houses from us by a good twenty feet.
We were sheltered.
“Are we there yet? This is taking too long. I’m
going to get caught.” Olivia peered down the lane.
“Maybe we should go back?”
Her whining pleased me. Mostly because in a
matter of minutes I’d never have to hear it again. No
one would. I was doing people a service. I smiled,
tilting my head empathetically. “It’s just two more
blocks. I told you, the alley is a shortcut. Just think,
it’ll be worth the wait when you taste it.” I patted
her gently on the back, shooing her forward, the
edges of my mouth turned up at the corners.
Like a good little lamb, Olivia plodded on. I was
definitely the shepherd this time. If only my dad
could’ve seen me.
“It’s really dark, Ryann,” she said with a quiver,
still walking a few feet ahead.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. Only a little
Quietly, I fished in my pocket for my nitrile
gloves. I wasn’t stupid. I’d taken them out of my
father’s office weeks before. They were a bit big, but
they’d do the job. Slipping them on, I reached into
the side pocket of my bag, where I’d stowed it.
The long, shiny blade captivated me. I must have
held it hundreds of times. I’d practiced on an old
pillow, a variety of melons, a water balloon, and
even a grassy field—driving the blade into various
surfaces to experience the thrusting pressure
running through my hands and up my arms. To feel
the pull and, finally, release of the blade as it left
whatever item I’d chosen. But nothing would come
close to the satisfaction of doing it for real.
A few more steps and we would be at my
preplanned spot. I took a few deep breaths, noting
the smell of freshly cut grass as I attempted to shake
the nerves bustling inside me.
Stupid first-time jitters.
This wasn’t the time to second-guess myself.
I’m not your average killer. It’s not like I’m
depraved or anything. I’ve never killed or tortured
an animal. I help the occasional old person cross the
street or carry their bags from the grocery store to
their car. Selecting a kill isn’t frivolous but a means
to an end. I have to do it––it’s like the urge is
encoded somewhere inside me—so I chose wisely.
Being with Olivia was different. It was
something just for me. It wasn’t connected to the rest
of the world I’d built—to my family, my friends, or
the Ryann they knew. I tried to be the girl they all
wanted, but no matter how hard I struggled to play
my part, I was never quite good enough. Always
compared to Bri. Always coming up short.
Well, I was about to prove them wrong. I’d
worked for this moment, and I’d chosen wisely. It
wasn’t like little Livy was innocent simply because
she was a kid.
Everyone is guilty of something.
Olivia was still in front of me, shadowed by the
dark, without the slightest clue about what was
going to happen next. A giddy feeling
I felt for the blade in my pocket and stroked the
edge with my index finger.
But then something happened that I hadn’t
anticipated. A rush of anxiety flooded through my
I wasn’t sure if I could do it.
At least not that way, and I had no idea why. I’d
dreamed about it for so long, but my hand could not
free the knife from my pocket. My heart raced; sweat
dripped down my face. It wasn’t like she was the
first. I hadn’t hesitated with Veronica.
Olivia was practically skipping in front of me
when everything stilled. I couldn’t leave without
doing it. What would that say about me and
everything I’d worked so hard for? I couldn’t be a
failure. I could do this—the very thing no one else I
knew could ever even dream of doing. Small
shudders tingled up and down my arms and legs.
My eyes traced every inch of the alleyway
around us. I had to do something. I couldn’t have
lived with myself if she’d walked away. Not after
I spotted a small stack of bricks next to a row of
garbage bins. My stomach released the twisted knot
it had been housing. Yes. It was the perfect way to
I ran over, crouched, and picked up a brick. The
red clay was heavy, with small grooves that bit into
my gloved fingertips.
Olivia turned around and stalked toward me.
“What are you doing over there?”
Straightening, I set my eyes on her. “Thought I
saw something, but it was nothing.” I kept the brick
behind my back and closed the gap between us, my
breathing hastening with each step closer.
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.
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