The Assassin of Oz by Nicky Peacock: A Fast, Strange and Violent Sequel that Tops its Predecessor

The Assassin of OzThe Assassin of Oz

by Nicky Peacock
Series: The Twisted and The Brave, #1

PDF, 180 pg.
Evernight Teen, 2018
Read: May 14 – 15, 2018
I’m not sure what it says about me/the books I read/the world in general, that given the strangeness of the world depicted in this series — the serial killer, vigilante organization, imaginary friend that’s not that imaginary, Native American legendary creature that’s going around killing people — and the even stranger stuff on the horizon of this book, that the hardest thing for me to swallow came in these opening pages. The Prime Minister imposes mandatory capital punishment for murder? That’s just so hard to believe. All the outlandish supernatural stuff just around the corner of that moment seems routine and blasé in comparison.

It takes awhile for this novel to show how it’s related to Lost in Wonderland, although it shares a sensibility and style from the get-go. Because of a couple of references and a news story, you know that this happens in the same world, but the characters are all new for the first two-thirds or so of this book. So when some of the characters from Lost in show up, it almost feels like they’re guest stars.

A 17-year old orphan named Halo is living with her horrible step-father who uses her for a punching bag and a cover for him as he sells drugs, she’s just not sure how to get out of this life when someone calling himself the Wizard shows up to recruit her for his club — Oz. The members of this little club are all murderers, many are technically serial killers at least partially responsible for the re-imposition of capital punishment.

Gavin is a police detective from the States, working with the British police to stop some of these serial killers — apparently Britain is recruiting police officers from around the globe to help slow their slide into dystopia. Gavin and his partner are on the hunt for a killer they call Valentine — who takes the hearts of his victims. A reporter is also trying to get him on board his personal crusade to help exonerate a convicted murder before he’s the first execution in decades.

These actually have more in common than you’d expect — a whole lot more than they’d ever expect or guess. Both end up immersed in the activities of Oz. Which is really about all I can say without ruining everything.

The prose is sharp and sparse — there’s hardly a wasted word. I mean this as a description, not a criticism, but frequently this reads more like an extended outline than a completed draft. It’s a gamble to try it — but Peacock makes that kind of writing work for her.

Fast-paced, focused, imaginative, action-packed and strange. This is an entertaining read — The Assassin of Oz novel delivers what it promises, a genre-mashup full of excitement. This is a solid sequel and does a nice job of setting up the next installment which seems like it’ll be another fun one.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest opinions.

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3.5 Stars

A Few Quick Questions With…Nicky Peacock

Earlier today, I blogged about Nicky Peacock’s Lost in Wonderland, not only did she send me her book, she agreed to take part in the little Q&A. Not only does she write a fun book, but she helps me generate content — a couple of my favorite traits in people. Hope you enjoy her answers, I did.

Tell me a little about your road to publication.
It’s been a long and bumpy road and, to be honest, I’m still not at my final destination yet. I’d like to write for a living, and right now that’s not a reality. I have to fit in writing with a full-time job. My dream would be to wake up every morning and know that I had all day to write and plot and socialise online with readers and other authors.

I’d always wanted to be an author; I can’t remember a time I didn’t. I’m passionate about stories, but unfortunately, I tended to lose excitement before I finished anything! I wrote a lot of beginnings and not many endings, so never sold anything. I then found the short story market. Thanks to eBooks it’s thriving and finishing a short story is much easier than a 90,000-word novel, so I wrote them for a few years. Next thing I knew I had over 35 stories published and thought I’d better start writing something longer and my first novella, Bad Blood came tumbling out of my imagination.

What was the genesis of this book/novel? Of all the dozens of ideas bouncing around your cranium — what was it about this idea that made you say, “Yup — this is the one for me.”?
It was always in my head, but last year was Alice in Wonderland‘s 150th anniversary, so I thought the time had come to get Lost in Wonderland out and set it free upon the unsuspecting world. I write YA fiction and had read lots of books about spies and the like, but wanted to take it one step further with teens who bait and catch serial killers. There’s a rather disturbing statistic that, right now, there are at least 3 active serial killers in the UK every year (The UK is about the size of just one US state, so that’s even scarier math!) and very few are caught. It boggles the mind to think of how technological advanced we are, but still can’t nail down these devils preying on the innocent. In my book, Wonderland is a vigilante agency set up to do just that, to work above the law and sometimes even under it, and to do whatever it takes to stop serial killers. The Lewis Carroll connection is through the founders of Wonderland, their daughter Alice was murdered, and the killer was only caught when they took the law into their own vengeful hands.
What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that.”?
I’d probably have to say Twilight. Vampires are my favorite monster, and although it didn’t break the bank with uniqueness, the author really developed her world and the characters in it. This is something that can be lacking with vampire stories as they are so larger than life, the creatures themselves can act as a crutch for a storyline so the writer doesn’t bother to delve any deeper. Also, it made a tonne of money, and I’m not too proud to say that I could really use even a fraction of that right now!
What is it about YA/”Teen” fiction that attracts you? Are all your works targeted to that audience?
I do some work for adult audiences (wait, does that sound rude? LOL) But I enjoy writing for teens. Their books have come a long way since The Famous Five and to be honest, you don’t even need to pull your punches that much when it comes to violence anymore. I’d hate to think that I’d written anything patronizing to my readers or even unrealistic – even when my subject matter is anything but real. There’s also the double dip effect in this market where adult readers will buy teen books too so you can gain more exposure an author.

The YA market is very loyal. I’d like to think that my readers, as they get older will still want to read my books.

I’ve often heard that writers (or artists in general) will forget hundreds of positive reviews but always remember the negative — what’s the worst thing that someone’s said about one of your books, and has it altered your approach to future books?
I’m very lucky in that the majority of my reviews are good. It can be frustrating when reviewers effectively ‘mark you down’ for opposite opinions, for example saying the book was too descriptive and then saying it wasn’t descriptive enough. I also get annoyed when someone gives me a low star rating but doesn’t put a review with it, that way I never know why they didn’t like it and what I could change in the future to help my work.

One of the things that reviewers have said about Lost in Wonderland is that they wish it had been longer. I’m currently writing the second book in the series, The Assassin of Oz and am making this longer now to make up for it.
Thank you so much for having me here today. If you’d like to find me online:

Blog:   Twitter: Y A Facebook Page:   UK Amazon Author Page: 

US Amazon Author page:   Good Reads: Tumblr:  Authorgraph:

Thanks for your time — and the book. Looking forward to what happens next.

Lost in Wonderland by Nicky Peacock

Lost in WonderlandLost in Wonderland

by Nicky Peacock
Series: The Twisted and The Brave, #1

Kindle Edition, 124 pg.
Evernight Teen, 2016

Read: November 30, 2016


This story focuses on Kayla — a young woman who looks years younger than she is (young enough to be appealing to the Humbert Humberts of the world as well as old enough to come across as a young co-ed), which is helpful in her vocation. She’s basically bait for serial predators (who the authorities can’t/haven’t done anything to) as part of her work with Wonderland. Wonderland is a group run by former federal agents bankrolled by a largely mysterious billionaire. Each “Wonderlander” goes by a code name derived from the Lewis Carroll book, and can quote sections relevant to their moniker (and recognize others quoting their parts). She and her colleagues — Rabbit and Chesire (Kayla’s Mouse) — lure the killers/molesters somewhere, take them out and then have someone come in clean up after them.

Her brother, Shilo, is locked up in a Mental Health facility for a handful of reasons, but the largest is his insistence that a man who dresses in orange is his constant companion who tells him what he should do. No one else can see or hear Mr. Custard, naturally, so Shilo is on the receiving end of all sorts of treatments. Neither the drugs, the talk therapy, or anything else seems to be working — Mr. Custard is still there, as much as Shilo might try to pretend he’s not.

Both siblings are reacting to the disappearance/abandonment of their mother while they were young and the suicide of their father not long after in very different ways, but both of their atypical lives can be traced to these incidents. Now it seems that someone is killing women near their childhood home, and there’s something drawing both of them back their to confront the killer.

The story is an interesting mix of Supernatural and Thriller stories, and once I saw that’s where she was going, I wasn’t sure that Peacock was going to be that successful with it — very few are. I’m not talking straight-up Urban Fantasy, I’m talking about a Suspense/Thriller that mixes in some sort of magic/monster where bullets and explosions should be. The last time I read a mystery where the author tried this, it ruined the book — it’s tricky. The heightened reality that she was using already helps, but it doesn’t guarantee success, Peacock tried a tricky thing and made it work, that’s no small feat.

Still, there’s only a little supernatural to this — there’s a human villain, human protagonists, human costs, human relationships at the core of this novel. Peacock’s up to the challenge of writing them, no doubt about it.

I liked the characters — especially Kayla. The story moved along well, the action was convincing — and the predators were just horrible enough that you didn’t really care that much that vigilante action took care of them rather than the law. Sure, the book could really have used one more thorough edit. More importantly, the facility that Shilo lives in draws more from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Gotham‘s depiction of Arkham than reality — and as annoying as that is, really, if you’re looking for realism, you’ve dropped this book before it gets to that.

Can she follow this up with an equally successful sequel? That might be trickier, but I’m looking forward to seeing her try.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest opinions.

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3 Stars