Malevolence Thy Name Is KarenMalevolence Thy Name Is Karen by Joan L. Sample
My rating: 3/5 cats
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so, obviously i read this book because of its title and premise: a little girl named karen whose existence is one of unadulterated evil who doesn’t like other children and lives near a park called woodside park; which is, coincidentally, a park near my own house?? yeah, bring it on! keep writing my life!

this book is published by lazy day publishing, which is a small press that serves the digital marketplace, giving new authors the opportunity to gain exposure without having to deal with the headaches, hoops and politics of more traditional publishers. the downside of this process is that you don’t get the same editorial attention that a more established house can supply.

so i’m not going to be too hard on the writing, because that’s one of those easy-snarks that i reserve for my readings in monsterotica, and snark is never super-useful. however, while i am not an editor, i am a reader, and there are a lot of easy fixes and tightenings that could be done to make the writing a little less jarring for the reader, which i will just briefly mention before we get to the good stuff of plot and character.

contractions. contractions are incredibly useful in making characters believable and sound the way that people actually sound. without contractions, characters sound like stilted robots or aliens. and if it were just the one character – in this case, karen – who is not quite human, that would be fine. it would set her apart and make her demonic origins more apparent. but it’s not. it affects all the characters.

mother-“Karen, I did not even think about it. With all that has happened, I am not sure how you can think of it either.”

therapist-“We will focus our attention on helping him, and I am certain he will be okay.”

brother-“Yes, I guess so. I will pray extra hard for Jason to get better soon. I will miss my friend so much!”

and it’s not every piece of dialogue, but it happens enough that it really affects the flow of reading. there is also a problem with repetition:

Karen knew that she would not rest until she brought down the walls of this home and ended their very lives. How she was going to accomplish this, she was not sure.

Karen’s new challenge kept her up at night. How could she accomplish this?

these are just easy edits that would tighten the prose and give more impact to the story’s flow. one more example of repetition, from the very first page:

I am but an instrument of destruction. I wonder which controls me: my raven heart or my demonic voices. What I do know is that there is more work to be done, and more souls to be taken.

I’m a darkened soul, with a heart as black as night. My only purpose is to bring about the dissolution of God’s living creatures. I am so monstrous that my blood pumps cold in my veins. Only a smiling face precedes this biblical sin. I am the essence of a killer. I feel no remorse. I was created to destroy. I don’t need a reason to do what I do, except the ones that exist in my mind. I was put on this earth for one purpose. It is a calling I embrace deep within my dark-hearted soul.

with all that repetition of dark/black/raven hearts and souls, it calls to mind this wonderful scene from twin peaks, but it also just pads the paragraph unnecessarily.

[EDIT – youtube ate the video i linked to, but i think i was referencing this:

if not, who knows what i was talking about…?]

again, for a book like this that hasn’t gotten a chance to go through a professional editing process, those are just (hopefully) helpful observations that need to be made, but it is more useful to focus on the meat of the book. so!

karen = eeeeevil. i mean, she never even had a chance. not only was she born a twin (shudder), whose womb-sharing sister lived only a single day, she was also soul-switched at birth and turned into a monster. for real.

karen develops early, taking pleasure in killing animals, but quickly escalates into killing people. for the smallest of reasons.

things you can do to put yourself on karen’s shit list:

1) be a family member
2) be a potential suitor for her mother
3) scratch her (if you are a turtle)
4) poop on the lawn, causing her to slip and dirty her dress (if you are a dog)
5) own a dog that poops on the lawn, causing her to slip and dirty her dress
6) be a rival in academic or sartorial excellence
7) be the mother of such a girl
8) spill mashed potatoes on her
9) accidentally run over her dog, even if you pay all medical bills, drive the dog to the vet, and make follow-up apology phone calls
10) be related to someone who accidentally ran over her dog
11) have a pool
12) give her what she wants for her birthday, but two days after the actual day
13) be an animal
14) be concerned that 9-year-old karen is on her own, wandering around the cemetery
15) be assigned to work with her on a school project
16) be a creepy pedophile (okay, that one is justified)
17) suggest boarding school
18) find her in her bedroom holding a bloody human ear in her hand with a creepy smile on her face

basically, you want to stay alive, you should avoid all contact with her. demon-souled nine-year-olds are such loose cannons:

Karen viewed the cookout as a day with extremely annoying people. They got under Karen’s skin so much that she decided killing them would be the merciful thing to do…Karen exited and hurried home as quickly as possible. All the way home, Karen was anxious. She wanted the entire family dead, and she hoped with all her heart that her plan would work. As she had sat there with that family of idiots, her hatred for them had grown. What had started off as revenge against Justin’s father had turned into a mission to slaughter the whole Harrison family. Their very existence exasperated her.

annoying, exasperating people?? that’s pretty much all people. no one here gets out alive when karen passes by.

so, yeah. if you like horror novels about creepy little kids who write emo-poetry, listen to metallica, and kill bunches of people, this is a book for you!

and if you want to stay among the living, never ever give anyone named karen a reason to dislike you.

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or else…

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