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A Guide for Murdered Children

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We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives? Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and f We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives? Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him. Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.


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We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives? Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and f We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives? Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him. Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

30 review for A Guide for Murdered Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I would like to thank Netgalley for a copy of this book. Unfortunately, it wasn't for me. There was so much going on that I didn't understand at times and other times I did. Even though it wasn't for me, I hope others will like it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    AnisaAnne

    You can also read my reviews on WP: anisabookreviews.wordpress.com/2017/0... A solid 3.5 stars rounded to 4 Why? Rounded-up for an intriguing and incredibly creative plot. 1.5 Stars taken off for the structure/writing style of the narrative. Imagine the world where the spirits of slain Children can return to exact revenge and to give closure to their cherished ones and finally "restore the balance." Justice in a world without any. Recovering alcoholic and ex-NYPD detective, Willow Wylde, aka "Dubya." is fresh out of rehab and You can also read my reviews on WP: anisabookreviews.wordpress.com/2017/0... A solid 3.5 stars rounded to 4 Why? Rounded-up for an intriguing and incredibly creative plot. 1.5 Stars taken off for the structure/writing style of the narrative. Imagine the world where the spirits of slain Children can return to exact revenge and to give closure to their cherished ones and finally "restore the balance." Justice in a world without any. Recovering alcoholic and ex-NYPD detective, Willow Wylde, aka "Dubya." is fresh out of rehab and about to take on the world without intoxicants. As a divorcee, Willow has one last attempt to be a father to his daughter and a grandfather to little Larkin. But Detective Willow is still unchanged, a collision of self and destructiveness as he tries to navigate his sobriety. Strange deaths are occurring in Saggerty Falls, and Detective Willow uses his experience attempting to piece together the crimes. What he learns is deadly, but what he becomes is reinvented. The premise of the novel is that murdered children can inhabit a moribund adult body and exact revenge on the person that wronged them. There is a Guide Book and a structure of this society -The Porter (Annie, the guide), sentries (assistants to the Porter), roommates (child spirit), and landlords (the moribund adult body). And there is the train that arrives at the station with their Subalterns (train sentries). The children take on the ride to their final mission. But something is amiss. The novel is recounted in the third person and begins with a writing style is difficult to appreciate and appears to read as a stream of consciousness. I grappled with the presentation of the first few chapters, trying to grasp onto words that seemed to be placed together with a forced atmosphere of chaos. Even though the pace is slow, the narrative jogs all over the place. There are alternating stories, multiple points of view, and timelines. Finally, there is an abundance of characters within characters and their full set of details which created confusion. I was forced to read and re-read. And sometimes I moved on and it made sense later. The chapter headings and sub-headings were helpful but not always. But where the narrative fails in structure, it makes up in character development and imagination. I enjoyed Detective Willow, a character you can both love and despise at the same time. A loathsome man is attempting to reassert his place in his neglected family. His love is palpable as he rediscovers relationships. As a retired old cop, he takes a chance at getting his old job back but knows he is washed up. Middle age makes him feel invisible. But he has a gift of voices he has been suppressing. Other noteworthy characters in the novel are a murderous duo. Laverne and Grundy's creepy rituals may keep me up at night. Although the descriptions of their killing are not gruesome, it is hair-raising and sinister. Finally, The structure of the spirit world was impressive world building. There was a feeling of strangeness, and it was believable. The transparent hue of the Blue Earth, the train arriving at the station in dreams, the whispers of instruction, the Tom Collins and a cookie on a tray, the integration of body and spirit. The spooky and surreal ambiance was on point. Overall, there is a mystery, mysticism, and some gruesome brutality. A great concept to juxtapose the paranormal/science fiction genre with horror. It fell short in the structure, but the story still unfolds, and those bits are brilliant. Not for the faint heart and for those who prefer a more streamlined read. Thank you, NetGalley, PENGUIN GROUP Blue Rider Press & Plume for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Somewhere, A Unicorn Is Crying (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for violence, including the rape, torture, and murder of children.) For the children, when your time is done, it is VERY important to THANK YOUR LANDLORD—they’ve been such CARING roommates!!! Remember, without THEM, you would never have been able to have your moment of balance. For the landlords, when YOUR time is done, THANK your BODY!!! (For the wonderful times it provided.) NEVER FORGET that it gave/>(Full Somewhere, A Unicorn Is Crying (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for violence, including the rape, torture, and murder of children.) For the children, when your time is done, it is VERY important to THANK YOUR LANDLORD—they’ve been such CARING roommates!!! Remember, without THEM, you would never have been able to have your moment of balance. For the landlords, when YOUR time is done, THANK your BODY!!! (For the wonderful times it provided.) NEVER FORGET that it gave you so much more time than your child-tenants had! And THANK the FRIENDS and FAMILY that you LOVED . . . and thank this beautiful BLUE EARTH. — from “The End” (the Guidebook) -- 2.5 stars -- Something strange and awesome is happening in the small town of Saggerty Falls, Michigan - and in towns both large and small all over the world (presumably). The spirits of murdered children ("tenants") are returning to this beautiful blue earth, temporarily inhabiting the bodies of recently deceased adults ("landlords") in order to exact revenge (the "moment of balance") on their killers. They are guided through this adventure by a psychic mentor ("porter") - in this case, one Annie Ballendine, a former teacher who was institutionalized after she began to hear voices. Annie was rescued and trained by Jasper, the porter before her; and, as her cancer returns, Annie knows that the time is nearing for her pass the baton to her successor. But how will she find this person, while also dealing with the "haywire" events that presage a Porter's passing? Depending on how compassionately the narrative is crafted, rape revenge stories are some of my favorites (quite possibly because rape carries so few consequences for the perpetrators here in the real world. Fiction is often much more satisfying.) Mindy McGinnis's The Female of the Species has become the gold standard for me; Alex Craft is the ultimate antihero, and the book does an exemplary job deconstructing rape culture. I envisioned the titular murdered children as miniature Dexter Morgans-in-training, crammed into the meatsuits of unsuspecting (but ultimately game) adult humans. Like Alex, but with even more personal vendettas. Maybe even with a splash of Chucky from Child's Play in there somewhere. In other words, horrible and magnificent. Yes, my expectations for this one were through the proverbial roof. Which made the fall that much more painful. A Guide for Murdered Children is...I hate to say it, but it's a hot mess. Books that span genres can be exciting, compelling, and fun, but the blend of mystery, horror, and supernatural just didn't work for me. Sparrow can't seem to decide what she wants this book to be. There's a lot of needless hand-wringing - by the wronged children, no less - about the futility of revenge, and doesn't murder (in some cases, very clear-cut cases of self-defense) make them as bad as their killers? I suppose most rape revenge stories tackle ethical dilemmas such as these, but the many plot twists thrown in to facilitate the soul-searching in A Guide for Murdered Children make everything so damn tiring. By the time we get to Lydia's monologue to Willow, I was just like "can we not"? More Punisher, less Daredevil, please. I mean I think we can all agree, since we're talking about pedophiles and child killers here, right? Since many of the characters are children posing as adults (or enmeshed with them, might be a better description), the dialogue is...tricky. Sparrow makes them seem a little too juvenile - overly-innocent, maybe, given what they'd been through - and the dialogue often feels clunky and overdone. On the other end of the spectrum, many/most of the characters occasionally think in $10 words that seem completely ill-fitted to them. I didn't really connect with any of the protagonists, and I outright despised Detective Willow Millard Wylde. Like, are we supposed to root for this guy? Willow is a walking cliché: the corrupt narcotics officer who steals from dealers; the disgraced, hard-drinking Big City Homicide Detective; the shitty "whoring" husband; and the even shittier absentee father who tries to buy his daughter off with a puppy. (Adopt, don't shop.) Dude is a straight-up womanizer who basically fantasizes about maybe raping his new neighbor. ("Willow flashed on pushing her against the living room wall and sticking his tongue down her throat. He wondered if she’d submit. How long would it take for her to push him away? Would it be a push? Or a kick in the balls?" Make no mistake: What he is describing is sexual assault.) But they hook up and fall in love, so I guess that makes it okay. And then there's the matter of his boss covering up multiple cases of police misconduct and brutality. I've never been a big fan of this trope, but even less so considering what's going on in the news. Like, I get that surface appearances are hecka different from the meat of the matter, but Owen doesn't know that. Yet he agrees to a whopper of a lie so that Daniel can go out a hero cop - and to save the department's reputation. This is gross, and it's gross precisely because it's the sort of thing that happens all the time IRL. The most generous thing I can say about A Guide for Murdered Children is that the idea was intriguing enough to keep me reading from beginning to end - not once did I consider DNF'ing. Otherwise it's a pretty disappointing example of great idea/poor execution. I can only hope that the finished version will be a little more polished (I read an early copy eight months prior to publication). www.easyvegan.info/2018/03/20/a-guide...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    The plot for this book is incredibly creative! I love it when I come across a book that takes genre-normal and blows it all to pieces! With that said, there are some dark events in this book that some might not want to delve into -- murder, rape, etc of children. Now given the title of the book, that's not a surprise, but just be aware before you read this story. The basics: The spirits of murdered children get to return to the Earth for a limited time to exact revenge on their killers. The spir The plot for this book is incredibly creative! I love it when I come across a book that takes genre-normal and blows it all to pieces! With that said, there are some dark events in this book that some might not want to delve into -- murder, rape, etc of children. Now given the title of the book, that's not a surprise, but just be aware before you read this story. The basics: The spirits of murdered children get to return to the Earth for a limited time to exact revenge on their killers. The spirits inhabit the bodies of certain adults while on Earth. These landlords are dead people who are reanimated for the sole purpose of assisting the murdered children. The murdered kids attend secret meetings disguised as AA meetings at churches to discuss their journeys. In the course of an investigation, former NYPD detective Willow Wylde discovers these meetings. When he realizes those attending are actually slain children, Willow learns a whole new understanding of life and death. This story is incredibly creative, inventive and mind-blowing. But in places, the execution was a bit rambling and confusing. There are just too many side characters and subplots going on all at once. It muddied the waters a bit too much, making the plot a bit confusing at times. That being said, the story itself was so interesting and bizarre that it kept my attention the entire book, no matter how rambling things got. I love the character of Willow. He's middle aged, feels tired and washed up. Alcoholism has robbed him of a lot, but he's trying to pull it together to do something with the rest of his life. Very realistic character. All in all, an interesting book. I enjoyed reading it, and I loved the creative plot. But it could have been a bit more focused. The completely cool concept kept me reading. I enjoyed this book despite the plot chasing rabbits a bit. The front cover is totally perfect! **I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from Penguin via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    With a pretty pink front cover that looks like it should be on my bookshelf, and the comparison to my favorite author, Shirley Jackson, on the back, I went into this horror novel with exceptionally high hopes, only to be crushed by cumbersome dialogue and graphic child rapes. Very graphic. I can usually handle a violent book, but this one had me cringing in the worst way possible. This book just wasn’t for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    A Guide for Murdered Children is a supernatural-realism thriller centered around the belief that one day, a murdered child gets to find their moment of balance when they are resurrected into the body of an unsuspecting landlord who themselves have recently died. First and foremost I have to say that I have never read a book like this before in my life. The concept was inventive and for the most part was executed very well. There was a perverse sense of justice to the moment of balance and the book A Guide for Murdered Children is a supernatural-realism thriller centered around the belief that one day, a murdered child gets to find their moment of balance when they are resurrected into the body of an unsuspecting landlord who themselves have recently died. First and foremost I have to say that I have never read a book like this before in my life. The concept was inventive and for the most part was executed very well. There was a perverse sense of justice to the moment of balance and the book stirred up issues of questionable morals, and I am a firm advocate of books that make you think no matter how weird the thought. That being said, the book started on very rocky ground. The mystery that was trying to be maintained about the world of the story went so far that I was utterly confused and nearly stopped reading a number of times. Personally I don’t like not finishing a book so pushed through, but a lot of people won’t wait to get a fifth of the way through (which is where things started to get a lot clearer) before putting it down. Ex big city narcotics turned cold case cop, Willow “Dubya” Wydle is drawn back to the sleepy Detroit town where he used to live. His team reopens the case of missing brother and sister Troy and Maya Rummer that shook the town twenty years ago. Whilst solving that mystery Willow is also trying to solve one that has him drawn to a woman called Annie who introduces herself to him as The Porter. Willow is that tough corrupt cop that you’re meant to love despite his past, but in reality you don’t care too much about his journey and mostly wait impatiently for him to know things the audience already does. At first it was confusing differentiating between tenant (child) and landlord (adult) as both hosted the same body and could come and go without any warning/trigger but it was smart once you got your head around the switcheroo’s. It wasn’t until two thirds/three quarters of the way in that anything really interesting happened, which was too far in. But once the clues started dropping and unexpected twists literally made me gasp, I couldn’t wait to read to the end. The term “Haywire” was used as scapegoat for a lot of inconsistencies (which I can’t elaborate on without spoilers) and for me the book just left to many major questions unanswered that was blanketed by the continued message of the Porters to “Not ask the big questions” and to just “Trust and accept.” – Others may be okay with it but for me some sense of explanation – even a hypothetical one to Who is in charge of this whole Porter, Train, Children’s Justice malarkey?! would have been nice. Instinctually I would not recommend this book. On the other hand now that I’ve read it I want others to read it too so it can be discussed and also appreciated for how unique it is. Okay that’s all folks, but bear in mind that as this is an advanced readers copy, so by the time this book comes out (March 2018?) some of my dislikes about it may have been ironed out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I fully admit to being sucked in by the title and then I stayed for the plot. In a nutshell: Murdered children are reincarnated into the bodies of recently deceased adults. Their mission? To achieve a "moment of balance" aka revenge on their killers for their untimely demise. A Guide for Murdered Children was a solid 3.5 stars fo I fully admit to being sucked in by the title and then I stayed for the plot. In a nutshell: Murdered children are reincarnated into the bodies of recently deceased adults. Their mission? To achieve a "moment of balance" aka revenge on their killers for their untimely demise. A Guide for Murdered Children was a solid 3.5 stars for me. The premise is super unique and interesting and it definitely kept my interest the entire way through. However, they are so many characters, as you have both the children tenants, their adult landlords, the killers, and a handful of others. I needed to make a character map to keep everyone straight. The plot also moves pretty slow at times—no fault of the author, I think the story requires a lot of exposition and background—but you're going to be tempted to skim and I'd recommend not doing that because you'll need the information later. Obviously, there are darker topics at play. Murder of children. Rape. Abuse. But if you appreciate a good revenge story, there's that going for you. Is it worth a read? Yes. Will it be a slow process? Most likely. Will the Comic Sans on the cover constantly bug you? The whole time. Thank you Edelweiss and Blue Rider Press for letting me read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Actual rating: 1.5 DNF @ 75% First, I’d like to thank Dutton/Penguin Random House for this ARC. Second, I must point out that, yes, I didn’t necessarily finish the book, but I read enough to offer me what feels like a semblance of appropriateness in giving this review. Okay. Let’s get the pros out of the way: •Sarah Sparrow has a wonderfully creative mind. Her writing is unique and wholly imaginative. •At a glance, the plot is intriguing. I was very eager to read this book, be/>,/>, Actual rating: 1.5 DNF @ 75% First, I’d like to thank Dutton/Penguin Random House for this ARC. Second, I must point out that, yes, I didn’t necessarily finish the book, but I read enough to offer me what feels like a semblance of appropriateness in giving this review. Okay. Let’s get the pros out of the way: •Sarah Sparrow has a wonderfully creative mind. Her writing is unique and wholly imaginative. •At a glance, the plot is intriguing. I was very eager to read this book, because the originality of the synopsis alone is enough. But (and here come the cons), the execution is just not there. In the first few chapters alone, my brain was already swimming. It came off as if Ms. Sparrow took two handfuls of various genres, and tossed them in between the pages, but never once trying to nail it down to anything specific. In that regard, the book felt like an over-complicated and muddled mess. Really, there’s just too damn much happening on each page. I consider myself to have a pretty good grasp on absurd plots that go every-which-way, but there was a manic and frenetic energy to the story that threw me for a loop. I was admittedly confused for a majority of this novel, as it jumped around between POV’s and perspectives. It’s hard to keep track of all that is going on. And it is a fairly dense book, too. Character-wise, I didn’t much care for Willow, either, and that put a damper on the reading experience. I really wanted to enjoy this more. I’m mentally exhausted now that’s it’s done.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Gunderman-Harris

    For my full review click here-> http://lattesandpaperbacks.com When I first saw this cover I absolutely had to get my hands on a copy! Well I read the synopsis and was even more intrigued by the book. Not just the cover but the title and synopsis had me completely intrigued! I could help but drool once I got my hands on it! And naturally I couldn't wait to dive in but I needed to wait until closer to the pub date, which was SOOOO HARD!! But I was finally able to pick it up and I dove right in head first For my full review click here-> http://lattesandpaperbacks.com When I first saw this cover I absolutely had to get my hands on a copy! Well I read the synopsis and was even more intrigued by the book. Not just the cover but the title and synopsis had me completely intrigued! I could help but drool once I got my hands on it! And naturally I couldn't wait to dive in but I needed to wait until closer to the pub date, which was SOOOO HARD!! But I was finally able to pick it up and I dove right in head first and wasn't even close to looking back! I have to say at first I was a bit confused, but once I reread the synopsis things starting making more sense, (also I was riding the struggle bus coming off of a thriller high.) But I absolutely loved the characters and how the story built up. I couldn't stop reading because I had to know how everything would work within the given manual. The story was so well plotted and executed and it was a huge plus for me, especially when I had so many questions about what all was going to happen. Much like the children in the story I had to wait for my moment of balance. And once it came, majority made sense. I am just hoping that there will be a sequel so I can learn even more about that world! Thank you so much to Blue Rider Press and Penguin Randomhouse for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Thanks to Blue Rider Press for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. I think that we can all agree that this combination of title and cover will have a lot of people curious and wanting to pick up a copy. Don't let this pretty pink unicorn cover fool you, this is not a happy-feel good story. A GUIDE FOR MURDERED CHILDREN by Sarah Sparrow covers some topics that are not for everyone - this story depicts rape, abuse, and murder towards children. This book has a Thanks to Blue Rider Press for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. I think that we can all agree that this combination of title and cover will have a lot of people curious and wanting to pick up a copy. Don't let this pretty pink unicorn cover fool you, this is not a happy-feel good story. A GUIDE FOR MURDERED CHILDREN by Sarah Sparrow covers some topics that are not for everyone - this story depicts rape, abuse, and murder towards children. This book has a truly unique premise that I haven't seen before. I can see this being a tad confusing for some readers in that there are a lot of characters to keep straight. I think that part of the synopsis sums up what the book has in store very well: "We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?" This is a story about revenge. There is some police procedural mixed in and some elements of fantasy thrown in. If the synopsis has any YA vibes, it definitely doesn't fall into that category. This is a genre bending/mixing that might not sit well with some readers and it's really hard to pinpoint exactly who this book would be for (if that makes sense). My main issues stemmed from some of the errors within the galley copy. I'm sure these got fixed and corrected in the finished copy, so that shouldn't be a problem other readers experience. It just affected my reading experience and threw off the flow of the book in places. Overall, I'd say that if the synopsis intrigues you and you go into it knowing that there are some harder topics covered, then I would recommend it. I appreciate the uniqueness of the plot and if you want a good revenge story, then this will be for you. I give this 3.5/5 stars - rounded up for rating

  11. 5 out of 5

    The Behrg

    "A Guide for Murdered Children" has all the ingredients needed for an amazing book - a unique concept, an inventive hook, troubled characters, and some phenomenal and edgy writing. Unfortunately just tossing all the ingredients into a big pan and hoping it comes out in the end doesn't always work. What this book is missing is a solid through-line. There's no plot. Nothing that drives the story forward. Instead we have half a dozen subplots and tacked together character lines that never coalesce "A Guide for Murdered Children" has all the ingredients needed for an amazing book - a unique concept, an inventive hook, troubled characters, and some phenomenal and edgy writing. Unfortunately just tossing all the ingredients into a big pan and hoping it comes out in the end doesn't always work. What this book is missing is a solid through-line. There's no plot. Nothing that drives the story forward. Instead we have half a dozen subplots and tacked together character lines that never coalesce into something stronger. I really wanted to love this book. Sparrow certainly has some chops and there were some great moments in this, but overall it just didn't deliver an experience and felt as if it were three drafts short of a final product. Worth checking out, if nothing more than for Sparrow's unique style. Hopefully others will enjoy what just didn't work for me. "Every monster dreams. Every monster imagines, aspires." * I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. My thanks to the author and publisher.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara Oxton

    A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow a thought provoking four-star read. I picked this book up as the title grabbed me, making me think I must have read it wrong but then read the info and though what a different read and it really is. It’s not for the faint of heart as the subject matter is a little raw and not something everyone will enjoy, but if you go into it with an open mind, and understand that it will get there in the end as revenge is a major player in this book. (Bare that i A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow a thought provoking four-star read. I picked this book up as the title grabbed me, making me think I must have read it wrong but then read the info and though what a different read and it really is. It’s not for the faint of heart as the subject matter is a little raw and not something everyone will enjoy, but if you go into it with an open mind, and understand that it will get there in the end as revenge is a major player in this book. (Bare that in mind when you read as it does make it more palatable) The cover adds some comic relief to the story and at times you will be wondering if you can carry on, but do keep going the whole story makes a captivating, compelling read that although dark will give you some light to contemplate as well. The whole concept and content of this book isn’t something I would normally read, but I couldn’t put it down once I got into the story. Thank you Netgally and the author for allowing me to read this compelling story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Janelle | She Reads with Cats

    Thank you so much to Blue Rider Press and Penguin Random House for providing my copy of A GUIDE FOR MURDERED CHILDREN by Sarah Sparrow - all opinions are my own. Immediately, I was drawn to the title and cover of this book. Then I read the description and I knew I had to read it. The souls of murdered children exact revenge on behalf of their loved ones by inhabiting recently deceased adults in order to restore balance. HOOKED. Strange deaths have been occurring in Saggerty Falls, Mic Thank you so much to Blue Rider Press and Penguin Random House for providing my copy of A GUIDE FOR MURDERED CHILDREN by Sarah Sparrow - all opinions are my own. Immediately, I was drawn to the title and cover of this book. Then I read the description and I knew I had to read it. The souls of murdered children exact revenge on behalf of their loved ones by inhabiting recently deceased adults in order to restore balance. HOOKED. Strange deaths have been occurring in Saggerty Falls, Michigan. Willow Wylde, an ex-NYPD detective and recovering alcoholic fresh out of rehab, tries to start anew and takes a job running the cold case team in this Detroit suburb. However, he is still dealing with the demons of his recovery and is very self-destructive. The most amazing quality about this book is the extremely unique, one-of-a-kind, and interesting plot. I have never read a story like this before. There is a guide book that is adhered to and provides order. There’s the Porter, Annie Ballendine; Tenants, which are the souls of murdered children; Landlords, recently deceased adults; and much more. A murdered child finds a recently deceased adult, revives him, they live together as “tenant and landlord”, the child locates his or her murderer, and exacts their “moment of balance”. Sounds complicated, right? Well, in a way it is, so paying close attention to the details is key. The imagination that went into constructing this story and this other world is impressive and fantastically written. I am always in awe when an author creates such an incredible level of detail. Also, I enjoyed the character development and although there are a lot of characters, you still get a good understanding of each of them. Sound interesting? Well, it is. The overall structure of the book is where things get a little rough as there are multiple perspectives, alternating timelines, and stories. My main issue is with the editing, but my guess is that it is corrected for the finished copy. Also, be prepared as this book does contain sensitive material such as rape, abuse, and the murder of children (obviously), so proceed with caution. Ultimately, I enjoyed the book for the originality, depth, and imagination. It is truly a horrifying, heartbreaking, and twisted read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    There is a trend happening with my March releases, and I am not certain I like it. I do not know if it is a coincidence, a reflection of the current state of the world, or if publishers are deliberately selecting such novels to release at the same time. Either way, this trend is not for the faint of heart, weak of stomach, and sensitive in nature. To what am I referring? I am referring to the fact that almost every novel I have read that was published in March covers disturbing topics and does s There is a trend happening with my March releases, and I am not certain I like it. I do not know if it is a coincidence, a reflection of the current state of the world, or if publishers are deliberately selecting such novels to release at the same time. Either way, this trend is not for the faint of heart, weak of stomach, and sensitive in nature. To what am I referring? I am referring to the fact that almost every novel I have read that was published in March covers disturbing topics and does so without trying to soften any imagery. The latest in this trend is A Guide for Murdered Children. Do not let the cover fool you. This is not a sweet novel with a happy ending for everyone. This is a dark, dark novel. Between the deaths of the adult landlords, the deaths of the children, and the figurative demons that haunt our hero, there is very little joy and too much pain. In addition, the language is stark, almost clinical in nature, which serves to enhance the feeling of bleakness that permeates the pages. To make matters even graver, Ms. Sparrow is unflinching in her portrayal of violence, especially of that done to the children. She may not describe every scene in great detail, but sometimes sentences which have the appearance of being throwaway ones contain much more information than we ever want, need, or anticipate. This all makes for a novel that you can read only during an emotionally removed state. To read it while fully empathetic is to open yourself up to too much pain and sorrow. Yet, there is a real need to carefully read A Guide for Murdered Children for it is not an easy novel to understand. The story flits from Willow’s point of view to various deaths to the Porter who runs interference and guides the newly returned children through their last mission. At first, there is too much to absorb, and you are left with one too many WTF moments as you work to understand what is happening. Eventually, the shifts in perspective and narrative make sense, and you find yourself settling into the task of following Willow as he makes his way ever closer to his purpose. However, the chore that is reading the first few chapters means paying closer attention to everything, setting yourself up for heartache and stomachache. A Guide for Murdered Children is not an easy book to like and it is most definitely not for everyone, yet I find myself strangely drawn to reflect upon the story and its commentary on justice. The crimes against the children, even though obliquely mentioned, still linger within my memory, but I cannot let go of this odd story. Ms. Sparrow raises so many questions and provides few answers, and I am okay with this. Her story about lost souls who are able to return to achieve a state of balance is hopeful, if bleak, and I think we need hopeful right now. Rather, I need hopeful right now. Besides, as appalling as the children’s deaths are, there is a strange satisfaction to be had by the fact that they are able to find peace. It is even more satisfying that Willow is able to find peace. It means that there is good to be found in this world, even if it is difficult to see.

  15. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Joy Joy ♥

    Please note that I received this book from Netgalley while it was still a work in progress. For that reason, I have decided to spoiler my review in case there are those that want to give the published book a fighting chance. (view spoiler)[ The title in contrast with the cover caught my attention. The premise in the summary sounded promising and in truth, the idea behind the story was a great idea. But that's about it. The characters felt shallow. The Please note that I received this book from Netgalley while it was still a work in progress. For that reason, I have decided to spoiler my review in case there are those that want to give the published book a fighting chance. (view spoiler)[ The title in contrast with the cover caught my attention. The premise in the summary sounded promising and in truth, the idea behind the story was a great idea. But that's about it. The characters felt shallow. The writing flow did begin to improve halfway through the book, but even so it still wasn't great. The formatting for this was horrendous and the constant typo and grammatical issues were truly distracting. The book wasn't immersive at all. My biggest issue with the book was the beginning. Although the story itself was hard to follow and confusing due to the writing, the beginning was the worst offender. It was so convoluted that I found myself re-reading pages and getting frustrated at it all. If it weren't for my conviction to follow through with a review, I would have not finished it. And it took me longer than normal for me to get through this. Maybe the finished book will work out the kinks this had, but I can't say I would re-read it to find out. (hide spoiler)]

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dez Nemec

    I requested this book solely based on the title. How can anyone who loves mysteries and weird, supernatural stories resist a title like A Guide for Murdered Children? We immediately get a thorough, no holds barred view of Willow, and he is a mess. Initially, I wondered who the heck is this person and what is going on? Didn't really seem like he'd be "hero" material, but apparently he was. I rather liked how flawed Willow's character was - it makes him a great person to for his job(s). I requested this book solely based on the title. How can anyone who loves mysteries and weird, supernatural stories resist a title like A Guide for Murdered Children? We immediately get a thorough, no holds barred view of Willow, and he is a mess. Initially, I wondered who the heck is this person and what is going on? Didn't really seem like he'd be "hero" material, but apparently he was. I rather liked how flawed Willow's character was - it makes him a great person to for his job(s). The story has a great appeal - what if children who were violently murdered could return to enact revenge? It enables the "landlord" (or the person who helps the child) to live awhile longer, and allows the "tenant" child retribution. An interesting concept. My only complaint is they keeping talking about "haywire." Oh, it's time for "haywire." Let's chalk it up to "haywire." "Haywire,""haywire," "haywire." I should've counted how many times they used that word. AHHH! Otherwise, it was a quite enjoyable read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. DNF @ 20% I was absolutely hooked by the title + the cover + synopsis. There was no way that I wasn't requesting this because it was going to be a surefire winner with me. When I was approved for the ARC, I was totally pumped. As another reviewer so eloquently put it: "The cover of this book is incredible but what the hell is inside?" The writing style was absolutely chaotic and a comple Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. DNF @ 20% I was absolutely hooked by the title + the cover + synopsis. There was no way that I wasn't requesting this because it was going to be a surefire winner with me. When I was approved for the ARC, I was totally pumped. As another reviewer so eloquently put it: "The cover of this book is incredible but what the hell is inside?" The writing style was absolutely chaotic and a complete mess. I'm sure there was a creative reason for it but unfortunately I wasn't able to follow and enjoy. I struggled to understand what was going on between the flipped perspectives and players. A promising plot that hopefully others will be able to decipher.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

    I'll admit, I was drawn to this book based just on the title. And then I read the synopsis. A book about murdered children returning to Earth through a recently deceased adult to exact revenge? Sign me up! The first few chapters were actually really difficult to follow. I thought about giving up, but the premise was too enticing. I'm glad I stuck with it, because once I was able to figure out who was who and what was what, it was one heck of a roller coaster! Some of the subject matter was prett I'll admit, I was drawn to this book based just on the title. And then I read the synopsis. A book about murdered children returning to Earth through a recently deceased adult to exact revenge? Sign me up! The first few chapters were actually really difficult to follow. I thought about giving up, but the premise was too enticing. I'm glad I stuck with it, because once I was able to figure out who was who and what was what, it was one heck of a roller coaster! Some of the subject matter was pretty heavy (it IS a book about murdered children, after all) but nothing was overly gruesome. It was one of the most imaginative books I've ever read! (I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 'No: closure wasn’t relief or release, it was a balancing of scales, that’s all. When the scales were balanced, order and some kind of serenity returned to the world, in spite of oneself.' When I first started to read this novel, I was lost. I just couldn’t flow with it then I couldn’t really figure out what the heck was going on. Children are dead, we meet two young siblings Troy and Maya at the start pnly to know the will be snuffed out, then something strange happen via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 'No: closure wasn’t relief or release, it was a balancing of scales, that’s all. When the scales were balanced, order and some kind of serenity returned to the world, in spite of oneself.' When I first started to read this novel, I was lost. I just couldn’t flow with it then I couldn’t really figure out what the heck was going on. Children are dead, we meet two young siblings Troy and Maya at the start pnly to know the will be snuffed out, then something strange happens to Deputy Lydia and her partner Daniel and everything turns bizarre. By the middle of the book I’m finally moving along and realizing this is other-worldly. Children are returning to avenge their deaths in host bodies of adults, a sort of merging takes place but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The children have their own painful memories, fears and longings. What happened to them is disturbing. Willow is the cold case detective who has a connection to the siblings that seemed to have ‘dropped off the face of the earth’ in 2000, it was personal to both he and his daughter. Willow has always had a gift with visions and dreams, ‘spooky stuff’ that aided him. But nothing he has imagined can compete with reality. The returning children of the deceased are called Tenants, they are merged with Landlords (adults) and I won’t give away how the adults are ripe for housing the children. They all have a mission, and a time limit to attain their ‘moment of balance.’ I realize all of this is gibberish until you actually read the novel. This is one of the hardest stories to review for me, it’s a very strange creation. A part of me felt horrified for the parents in the aftermath, then for the children who had to return and often I was dizzy with trying to keep track of everything that had happened in the past and how it tied into the present. I think my blood-lust for revenge on those who harm children in particular is off the charts, so I kept waiting to feel ‘all is right with the world, there is balance’. Of course, there could never truly be an equal balance, there is nothing in this world that can ever avenge the murder of an innocent, I’ll never be convinced otherwise. Still, there must be some sort of justice, someone must be held accountable, regardless of how many years have passed. Without answers, it’s just added, unimaginable torture for those left behind. I was lost in several early chapters, the middle I started to get into the story and the end moved me, then I was wondering if this is intended to become a series for Willow? Not sure. I think some readers will struggle with it, it’s crazy but I can imagine this as a TV show, maybe it would be easier for others to wrap their mind around that way. There are a lot of readers out there into this type of fiction. I had a hard time with it but it is a unique story-line. I liked it for it’s originality, and I certainly felt sorrow for Troy and Maya and wanted to see it to the end for their sake. Not my usual read. Publication Date: March 20, 2018 Penguin Group Blue Rider Press

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. This book is about revenge, and as such, it should be deeply satisfying. The Guide for Murdered Children refers to a booklet that is handed out to - you guessed it – murdered children, who have returned in the bodies of "tenants" (dead adults, reanimated just for the purpose of exacting revenge on the killer) during fake AA meetings by a "porter". Sounds complicated? It is. Unfortunately, the complication gets more convoluted as it g I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. This book is about revenge, and as such, it should be deeply satisfying. The Guide for Murdered Children refers to a booklet that is handed out to - you guessed it – murdered children, who have returned in the bodies of "tenants" (dead adults, reanimated just for the purpose of exacting revenge on the killer) during fake AA meetings by a "porter". Sounds complicated? It is. Unfortunately, the complication gets more convoluted as it goes along. In short: this book is a mess. It tries to cover all sorts of bases (revenge, murder mystery, police procedural - you name it) and attempts to span several genres (horror, crime, fantasy). I am sorry to say that it did not succeed. That said, however: the author can write, she has a vivid imagination and a firm grasp on gruesome narratives, and this is what kept me going. It is a shame she was not teamed up with an equally talented editor/agent.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Claire (bookscoffeeandrepeat)

    I don't know if I should try reading this again because it was so hard to get into it. I don't think I like the writing style but I'll give it another shot, I guess. :/

  22. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I didn’t finish this book, I really wanted to like it but lost patience with it. So many characters and so much going on it gets confusing and frustrating. Looking at other reviews apparently things get clearer after halfway through but I need to feel invested enough to carry on and it didn’t happen.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah A

    This book was definitely outside of my usual fare. In fact, it was down right bizarre, and rather violent for my tastes. I by no means hated it, but I never really reached a point where I fell in love with it either. The plot jumps around various POVs but essentially, it surmises what would happen if the souls of murdered children came back into host bodies and were able to take revenge on those who had killed them (and likely others). In addition to viewpoints from some of these souls, we also This book was definitely outside of my usual fare. In fact, it was down right bizarre, and rather violent for my tastes. I by no means hated it, but I never really reached a point where I fell in love with it either. The plot jumps around various POVs but essentially, it surmises what would happen if the souls of murdered children came back into host bodies and were able to take revenge on those who had killed them (and likely others). In addition to viewpoints from some of these souls, we also follow Willow Wylde, a disgraced, alcoholic detective fresh out of rehab, working cold cases, and trying to figure out why his new rookies are so keen on their first case. Let me just say first and foremost, that if violence towards children (some sexual) & graphic descriptions thereof are something that triggers you, then be warned that this book is rather graphic in a lot of its imagery and intensely hard to read at times. There is a story, but it also meanders along, coming to the central mystery every once in awhile, but also flitting back and forth through time and multiple people’s experiences. It was a decent read, but I never really felt myself sucked in until the very end. When the end did come, however, the whole book did finally make a kind of sense, though it made you wonder about the kind of universe in which these things occur. Overall, it was a solid read, even though it was a bit intense at times. I really feel like a book like this is aimed at certain kind of reader, and I’m not sure I was that person. I am glad I finished it, and it provided a lot of food for thought. I find myself returning to it every once in awhile in my head, and I think it will stick with me. Note: I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Where to begin. Well, when I started this book, I thought it was just one book. When I kept reading to no end, I realized that it was actually 3 books put together. It does make for a VERY long read that way, however, as a person that really dislikes a cliff hangar without being able to jump right into the next part of the story, I appreciated being able to read all of it together. It was well written, detailed. As having lived in the area that the story line is based out of, I could see the pla Where to begin. Well, when I started this book, I thought it was just one book. When I kept reading to no end, I realized that it was actually 3 books put together. It does make for a VERY long read that way, however, as a person that really dislikes a cliff hangar without being able to jump right into the next part of the story, I appreciated being able to read all of it together. It was well written, detailed. As having lived in the area that the story line is based out of, I could see the places that author was describing. There wasn't a singular main character but there were a few and then supporting characters, of course. Dubya, the recovering alcoholic cop who returned home with his tail between his legs and trying to hang on to his sobriety and sanity, is presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity. He is asked to head up a new division for the police department, a cold case division. Annie, the eternal mother of the children on the train, is trying to hold it all together even though she knows her time is coming to an end. Lidya and Daniel are young cops finding their way through the ropes and get pushed into Ol' Dubya's path. As the story progresses, Dubya (real name Willow) is trying to teach his two new recruits how to work the cold cases and they are drawn to one in particular. One that Dubya has a personal attachment to. As they stack the blocks to solve what is happening, Dubya is trying to figure out his dreams about the train and the blue children he keeps seeing on the train. Without giving too much away, to summarize what is happening, a person (usually an adult) dies suddenly and a child that has been murdered comes through and reanimates that body. Both persons reside there as "landlord and tennent". It is up to the tennent (the child) to find their killer and seek their "moment of balance" in order to board the train one last time and finally cross over. The person that leads the children by offering support and support groups is the Porter (Annie). It's a race against time and when things start to go "haywire", everyone becomes concern that not all will be revealed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow is a serious read; not a feel-good happy book. If you enjoy reading something that pushes the limits of what is possible, especially about a subject people don’t want to discuss, you would get into this book. I kept notes as I read, jotting down each character and their relation to others if known. This helped me as I got further into the book. It involves a lot of different types and personalities of people and jumps to different time frames instan A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow is a serious read; not a feel-good happy book. If you enjoy reading something that pushes the limits of what is possible, especially about a subject people don’t want to discuss, you would get into this book. I kept notes as I read, jotting down each character and their relation to others if known. This helped me as I got further into the book. It involves a lot of different types and personalities of people and jumps to different time frames instantly. Because of my notes, I was able to follow easier and this really helped me follow the storyline. Children who are murdered are, without asking, given a chance to live again thru another person, hunting for their killer and seeking the “moment of balance”. The person whose body they inhibit wasn't asked either. They’ve died some sort of instant death, but in the few moments after death, they draw a breath again, but now share two souls in the one body. This concept is interesting and I think the author did an excellent job of transitioning between the adult and the young child, especially in regard to love, family, and sex. As I got into the story, it seemed that something at the weekly meeting was going wrong. The Porter (the person in charge of helping these shared souls coexist, again without consent), seemed to be losing touch with 2-3 of the children. A mistake had been made when a murdered child was entered into the body of a criminal. Here lies the major plot of the book. At times humorous, sad, intriguing, and at some points a bit slow, it’s a read that will keep your attention. I enjoyed the writer’s style. It required an effort on my part. Some sections I had to reread, others I had to flip back to refresh my memory. All in all, I wanted to complete this story and learn how it ended. If the plot of this could possibly happen one day I’d find some comfort in knowing that the lives of the helpless children had been avenged. My thanks go to the Publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shel

    Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin/Blue Rider Press for the ARC of this novel in exchange for a honest review. When I read the NetGalley synopsis this book was very intriguing: murdered children coming back as deceased adults to exact revenge on their murderers. Very original! Unfortunately, that original plot is the only reason this book earned a star. The book is REALLY confusing. Honestly, I had to reread a lot of pages in order to figure it out. And I’ll give it to the book that it was forma Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin/Blue Rider Press for the ARC of this novel in exchange for a honest review. When I read the NetGalley synopsis this book was very intriguing: murdered children coming back as deceased adults to exact revenge on their murderers. Very original! Unfortunately, that original plot is the only reason this book earned a star. The book is REALLY confusing. Honestly, I had to reread a lot of pages in order to figure it out. And I’ll give it to the book that it was formatted since it’s an I corrected proof but wonky page formatting doesn’t cause a book to be confusing on its own. There were some parts that were so confusing I just stopped reading and moved on. There were a lot of parts of the book that could be written a little more straightforward and still maintained the integrity of the book. Second, some of the child death scenes are really graphic. I am not normally offended by sex or murder and I regularly read books with heavy themes but some of the graphicness was not necessary and seemed more gratuitous than actually contributing to the plot. Lastly, the author had a strange writing quirk that really bugged me. Any time she mentioned a new city or suburb she gave you a point of reference to the most well known city but considering this all took place in relatively the same area it wasn’t necessary after the 3rd or 4th new city. Also, I live in the area that this book tales place and some of the information was incorrect but I’ll let her pass on that one since 99% of readers are not going to notice that one. I really wanted to like this one but I just couldn’t.

  27. 5 out of 5

    River

    We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives? Thanks to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was immediately drawn to this book when I first heard about it. The premise left me intrigued, albeit unsure of the genre, so I decided to just jump in and se We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives? Thanks to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was immediately drawn to this book when I first heard about it. The premise left me intrigued, albeit unsure of the genre, so I decided to just jump in and see what I thought. The story itself might be unusual, but it is pretty much what it says on the tin. Sparrow merges the unlikely combination of murdered children and whimsy, creating a unique and original story. While I enjoyed many elements of the plot, I have to say that it took some time to get into the writing style. It seems a little stilted in places, particularly over some lines of dialogue. Overall, due to the subject matter and writing style, this is a book that I enjoyed but would not recommend for everyone.

  28. 4 out of 5

    MollyK

    **** Goodreads give away winner **** Reader beware triggers, triggers and triggers abound. If you are a reader not faint of heart and enjoy a dark, twisted, yet hauntingly beautiful read this may be the book for you. Personally I entered to win the book solely based on the name and cover. Pink and unicorns and murder! So me. I even had the perfect homemade bookmark to use (pink w/ skulls and butterflies). So this book was right up my literary alley and I was not disappointed. Yes it w **** Goodreads give away winner **** Reader beware triggers, triggers and triggers abound. If you are a reader not faint of heart and enjoy a dark, twisted, yet hauntingly beautiful read this may be the book for you. Personally I entered to win the book solely based on the name and cover. Pink and unicorns and murder! So me. I even had the perfect homemade bookmark to use (pink w/ skulls and butterflies). So this book was right up my literary alley and I was not disappointed. Yes it was dark and at times rather horrifying. So much so that, at times, the writing literally took my breath away. I would have to put the innocent looking pink book aside so I could digest and decompress from what I had just read. Yet I never found the violence to be gratuitous. I sat there in the victim’s pain for a moment, but I never felt it was porned out. I was also impressed with how much philosophy was packed into the story. Themes of violence and compassion, retribution and forgiveness, and love. Most of all, paradoxically, this is a book of love and hope.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rose Elliott

    Mysterious, mystical, and unusual are all words that can be used to describe Sarah Sparrow’s debut novel, A Guide for Murdered Children. Confusing, scattered, and dragging at parts are also words that can be used to describe this novel. I picked up this book as an ARC from NetGalley back in October. I had high hopes, I really did. A story about murdered children who come back to avenge their deaths? Magnificent! Unique! Sure to be incredible! A Guide for Murdered Children did meet my expectation Mysterious, mystical, and unusual are all words that can be used to describe Sarah Sparrow’s debut novel, A Guide for Murdered Children. Confusing, scattered, and dragging at parts are also words that can be used to describe this novel. I picked up this book as an ARC from NetGalley back in October. I had high hopes, I really did. A story about murdered children who come back to avenge their deaths? Magnificent! Unique! Sure to be incredible! A Guide for Murdered Children did meet my expectations in many ways. But it also missed the mark in others. My full review can be found here. I received a free digital advance reader's copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    DNF

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