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Wilted Lilies Kelli Owen Main

"Wilted Lilies" Book Review

Written by Steve Pattee

Published by Gypsy Press


Written by Kelli Owen
2015, 98 pages, Fiction
Released on October 3rd, 2015


I was going to start this review with, “One of the things I like about Kelli Owen’s writing is…” But then I realized that I like too many things about Owen’s writing for that statement to hold any water. However, there are two things she does extraordinarily well – characterization and grounded horror – and both are on point in her novella, Wilted Lilies.

Wilted Lilies opens with a young teen, Lily, in an interrogation room with Travis, a detective who apparently doesn’t work for the district he’s in for this interview, but was instead called in especially to find out what happened to this girl. Apparently the powers that be wanted someone unfamiliar with her reputation, it being a small town and all. One thing he quickly learns is Lily can hear the thoughts of live people, and see and speak to dead ones. And that’s just the beginning.

As usual, Owen crushes it with character development. Almost immediately you are drawn to Lily and have an urge to protect her (although as things develop, you’ll find she’s a-okay in that department). The poor girl’s been through hell in back, starting even before the awful situation she just escaped from. (Side note, do yourself a favor and don’t read the Amazon synopsis; while it doesn’t necessarily spoil anything, you’ll want to discover what she’s been through organically and the synopsis doesn’t allow for that.)

Travis is just as likable. Here’s a guy listening to this teen’s life story and is trying his best to stay objective and logical even as things that aren’t logical are happening. While he’s the supporting cast, he’s still three-dimensional enough that I can completely relate to him. Lily is telling an out-there story, but damn if she doesn’t make it believable.

And that leads to the grounded horror I mentioned. I don’t know if that’s even a real term, “grounded horror”, but it’s what best describes the books I’ve read of Owen’s so far. She has this knack of making the supernatural natural. For example, in Teeth she created this world where vampires are part of society just like normies, and it works. Even though the vamps live longer and are stronger, you simply accept and it feels real. Or how in Floaters, she somehow made a damn monster book a police procedural. And it works just as well too. Sure, there’s something killing folks in the water, but the cop is going to crack this case and you get sucked up in the investigation as much if not more than what is eating folks. But I digress.

In Wilted Lilies, the entire novella takes place in an interrogation room with Lily telling her tale via flashback. Yes, the girl’s skill (or curse) of communicating with the dead is an integral part of the story – you can’t rightfully tell this tale without it – but the dead somewhat take a backseat to the breathing protagonists (much like real life). Instead of the dead, you get caught up in Lily’s story of her tangles with the living because you need to know what happened, ghosts be damned. However, don’t forget those ghosts have teeth, and there comes a point where Owen determines you’ve had enough fun and games and takes off the gloves. That’s a glorious moment. And just when you think it’s over, it’s not. No sir.

Wilted Lilies is engrossing, at times terrifying, and in parts heartbreakingly devastating. As usual, Kelli Owen’s character development strength is on full display. This is just the first book of (now) five, and that pleases me.


Overall: 4.5 Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Buy from Amazon UK

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About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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