Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Stranger Will” as Want to Read:
Stranger Will
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Stranger Will

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  107 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
To William Lowson, impending fatherhood means an impending stain. His work as a Human Remains Removal Specialist, professionally cleaning the stains left from dead bodies, fuels this belief. His friend and mentor Mrs. Rose, an elementary school principal, nurtures and sympathizes with his cynicism, blaming his dilemma on an imperfect world. But she has a plan around this ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published January 22nd 2011 by Otherworld Publications LLC (first published December 7th 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Stranger Will, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Stranger Will

The Show by Lawrence H. SolaGeek Love by Katherine DunnLamb by Christopher MooreA Dirty Job by Christopher MooreThe Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger
Best Books You've Never Heard Of
53rd out of 1,094 books — 870 voters
The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig ClevengerStranger Will by Caleb J. RossFight Club by Chuck PalahniukNew Yorked by Rob HartTobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen
LitReactor Lit
2nd out of 94 books — 5 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 26, 2011 Lea rated it liked it
I keep procrastinating on writing a review for this book, mainly because I just don't know what to say about it. I'm not even sure how I feel about it!

Let's get the boring, nitpicky stuff out of the way -- as usual. Typos, which seemed to get worse as the book went along. Everything from misspellings to what seem to be misused words. Why?? I expect this in a goodreads win -- because they're most likely sending out proofs rather than finished editions -- but this wasn't a win, I bought this on Am
Nicholas Karpuk
Jun 24, 2011 Nicholas Karpuk rated it really liked it
Though it doesn't appear promoted as such, to me Stranger Will is the most upsetting sort of horror story. The monster is a school principal with a notion of learning that owes a lot to eugenics and a really intense sort of Darwinism.

I'm not sure I've ever encountered a protagonist as disturbingly pessimistic as William. His bleak perspective pervades the very fiber of the story. This book presents a worldview where children are a necessary casualty in the disturbing games of adults. If you have
Paul Eckert
Apr 20, 2011 Paul Eckert rated it it was amazing
William Lowson is about to be a father, and that scares the crap out of him. Most fathers-to-be would be worried about how they could potentially screw up their child after it’s born. But William is sure his child is already a goner, what with all the hazardous chemicals that cling to him from his work, of which his wife inhales the second-hand fumes. And besides, a baby will eventually be just another stain for someone to clean up, so could it really be worth it?

His elderly friend, Mrs. Rose, s
Richard Thomas
Apr 22, 2011 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing
The authority that Caleb Ross brings to this story is unsettling. A haunting and touching story. I've never read anything by Caleb that I didn't like, and this book is some of his best work to date.

Merged review:

Caleb Ross writes lyrical prose that pulls you into the politics and morality of this story, Stranger Will. For most of us, children are the future, they represent hope and dreams. But in this novel they represent the fated, the already lost. Conspiracies only seem paranoid and insane if
Apr 01, 2013 Nai rated it really liked it
Welcome to the Perfect Edge Trifecta blog tour with Novel Publicity. I read the first book in our tour the day after the lovely Emlyn Chand emailed me my complimentary copy.
Then life got crazy.

Then Easter weekend got even more busy, and what should have been a four-day holiday (during which I thought I'd get 4 days to write. HAH.) turned into a different kind of lovely weekend.

One AWAY from the inter-nest. (Yup, gonna leave that title for the internet in there. It'll link back to the book.)

Just wait.


ANYWAY... WARNING, I use the F-word four times (which I thought I was restraining myself) and ASS twice.. but I don't think one of them counts, and a couple of the FUCKS were wonderful alterations according to my friends.. so I am down with it! CARRY ON!

F is for a frightening experience (and the F-word)

This review rated M for mature as in Facebook said I swear more than 89% of all my friends. I am making sure I live up to their assessment in this review, and I prom

Simon West-Bulford
Feb 07, 2013 Simon West-Bulford rated it it was amazing
Shelves: author-friends
I already had a sense of apprehension when I bought this book. I know Caleb, you see. I've read a fair amount of his work and one thing I know: his characters give me the willies. So having read the opener a little while back, I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into.

Stranger Will doesn't disappoint. It delivers a story which stirs up subject matter that's thought provoking and uncomfortable. William, the central character is - as the title suggests - a strange fellow (though the reason
Nov 13, 2011 Ken rated it really liked it
Having already been a fan of Caleb J. Ross from his short story collection, Charactered Pieces, it was nice to see him make a big leap with his first novel, Stranger Will. In fact, he jumped himself right into Ira Levin territory with this macabre tale of evil that lives right next door (if not right inside the protagonist). It’s been a while since I have read a solid, eerie tale of actual human depravity — let’s face it, most writers are too zombie and vampire obsessed these days — but Stranger ...more
May 07, 2011 Gordon rated it it was amazing
In this story, a cult of aspiring "strangers" work shifts dressed as bums on park benches adjacent to a school playground as part of their indoctrination, while the specially-chosen children in their eyeline learn life lessons of their own from their shared leader, Mrs. Rose. She's a charismatic Tyler Durden type (both mentor and antagonist) with utopian dreams but dystopian methods who guides our William through the not-so-traumatic experience of losing his unborn child.

That William never wante
Apr 04, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stranger Will grabbed my attention because it seemed like quite a different take on literary fiction than I typically read. After reading the cover blurb I remember thinking...carrier pigeons? Joining what exactly? Why would it be hard to leave the group?

Author Caleb Ross engagingly and consistently uses rich descriptive language throughout the novel..."William saunters through the mudroom door, the engine of his bioremediation cleaning van still ticking in the driveway. He flicks a spent cigar
Apr 29, 2012 Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
STRANGER WILL by Caleb J. Ross is art through prose. Every line is finely crafted. Each sentence suitable for quoting. The story itself is brilliant and unique. I have given high praise to earlier short story collections from Caleb J. Ross and his first full length novel has me absolutely enamored with the writer.

Reading STRANGER WILL could take an iron constitution if your a parent. In typical Ross style he claws with rusty nails at the wonders of parenthood and finds that microscopic shred of
Mar 09, 2013 Bibliophile rated it it was ok
This dark story about an unwilling soon-to-be-father starts off promisingly. Will, a pessimistic crime-scene cleaner, is trying to convince his very pregnant girlfriend to give their baby up for adoption. The world being evil and Will being mentally unstable, this makes perfect sense for him, though not so much for Julie, the long-suffering girlfriend. I would have happily read a novel about a couple coming to terms with becoming parents. What happens if one parent doesn't want the kid? How does ...more
Glenda Alexander
Apr 10, 2011 Glenda Alexander marked it as to-read
When my book club picks a book, it's because it's a really great book and we think all of the club will all enjoy reading a discussing it. Never and I do mean Never do we select a book to disect.

So my guess is this will be one that will be a favorite!
Apr 16, 2011 s.d. rated it it was amazing
Dark, dark, dark. And beautiful.
Growing Up
Apr 10, 2013 Growing Up rated it it was amazing
If I could use just a few words to attempt to describe Stranger Will, I would choose:

Stranger Will was truly one of the best books I have read, in quite some time. I don’t re-read books very often but this is one book in which I plan to do just that. Why? Because there are SO many layers contained within this story, so many meanings, and so many things to think more about. A second read, would be an opportunity to pull back some additional layers… layers you
Apr 03, 2013 Johanna rated it liked it
Stranger Will is a very unique and amazing book. On my journey through this novel, I felt it touch many different genres: literary fiction, horror, mystery, drama, psychological, crime and probably even more that I can't think of right now. Stranger Will is deep an fascinating and I don't know how I can ever write a review living up to the book itself.

This is very typical for a Perfect Edge book, it has multiple layers. It's so worth being re-read again and again because there's so much more to
Kristin Fouquet
May 30, 2011 Kristin Fouquet rated it it was amazing
Having loved Ross’ collection of short stories, Charactered Pieces, I greatly anticipated reading his first novel. I was not disappointed. Again, he takes the reader out of his or her comfort zone. The theme of this book reminded me of a strange incident.

In the fall of 2003, I was seven months pregnant with my first child when I visited San Francisco for the fourth time. In the previous three trips, I noticed the homeless population, but didn’t dwell too long on the issue as I live in a city wit
Apr 05, 2013 Lissette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In William Lowson's life, there is no room for error. The world he now lives in leaves a lot to be desired. His job as a Human Remains Removal Specialist means he spends most of his time cleaning up the stains left behind by the dead. His wife, Julie, doesn't really like the idea of his doing so, but she'll put up with things because it's their only means of getting ahead. Not to mention that she's also pregnant, and hoping for a better life.

For William, the thought of being a father is daunting
Marthe Bozart
Jan 18, 2014 Marthe Bozart rated it really liked it
So, I really enjoyed this book. The only reason i only gave it 4 stars in stead of 5? The language. As I am not a native english speaker I found the language quite complicated at times. Knowing the writer though (he's on booktube) that totally makes sense to me, he's superintelligent :P this book is much darker than i expected, much deeper too. At the beginning of the story i couldn't really relate to the maincharacter, but i believe that's exactly what the writer wanted, to show us a person ...more
Katie Mansfield
Where to begin, where to begin... I guess I should start by saying that my rating is actually a 2.5, not a 2.

This book had quite a few beautiful moments both in the imagery and dialogue. Mrs. Rose, especially, had a number of quotes that really impacted me to where I would have to put my book down for a minute to really digest what had just been said. Overall, there was major character development.

That being said, I found the plot surrounding the well-developed characters to be less than stellar
Victoria Brinius
Apr 02, 2013 Victoria Brinius rated it it was amazing
Wow. I love dark horror, but this was a step beyond. I literally had to make sure the lights were on. The author is definitely either messed up or extremely talented. I think he is extremely talented. He created a world so dark and vivid, that it was beyond what ever I could have imagined it was about. The main character is jacked up. He has more issues then I don't know who. He job is to clean up crime scenes. How gross is that? Not only does he know what probably happened, but he also gets it ...more
Shah Wharton
Apr 07, 2013 Shah Wharton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an uncomfortable book for me to read, but then I never expected it to be otherwise once I read the blurb. The darkness surrounding the story and characters in this novel is not the usual darkness I explore in fiction - the vampires and and monsters of urban fantasy and horror were no where to be sen, yet this felt darker at times – even horrific. It’s grounding in reality made this much more compelling, but also difficult to digest. I did so in chunks and punctuated by other, more easy ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Caleb J. Ross has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I actually read I Didn't Mean To Be Kevin first and blew through it and then quickly bought Stranger Will next (it's been on my to-read list for a while).

As a father myself, to two children, this book was very gut-wrenching from the get go in only the way a parent can be by William's complete disdain for his unborn child. I hated him at first and wondered how completely fucked up someone could be like him.

As the book progresses you see
Mar 26, 2013 Danielle rated it really liked it
well this was an unexpected hit with me.! i follow Caleb on youTube, and 2 months ago he gave away copies of his book for review, and i received a copy! GO ME!!

i read this book, and im not gonna lie, i had mixed feelings the whole book. I guess i feel like the lead character suffered from a long undiagnosed mental illness and needed help, before the murders, before the messages, hell before he got married.

i also understand that im probably one of the few people that will feel that way.

i hated
Jul 14, 2014 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this book felt very Palahniuky at times. But, good Palahniuk, old Palahniuk. The whole carrier pigeon thing, the "strangers", Mrs. Rose, the charismatic, cultish leader who's able to influence followers to buy into her strange, controversial life philosophy (a la Tyler Durden, Princess Brandy Alexander, or Fertility Hollis). This book, however, has none of the humorous, satirical elements of a Palahniuk novel. It's more of a moving portrait of a man losing his way and trying to reign ...more
Cherstin Holtzman
Jun 24, 2013 Cherstin Holtzman rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book despite the horrific subject matter. Ross is a brilliant writer and has a wonderful way with language, but I felt the book ended rather abruptly. I wanted more loose ends to be tied, but was left wanting and filling in the blanks on my own. Despite that, I'll definitely be reading more of his work to see what else he has to offer. I finished last night but I'm still having a hard time deciding on how many stars for this review: I'm going with four, but it was ...more
May 27, 2011 Bookedpodcast rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Fantastically written. A truly unique and disturbing book.

Stranger Will tells the tale of William, who cleans the stains left by dead bodies. Will's fiance is pregnant and Will can't imagine bringing a child into such a messed up world. Not for the weak-stomached, Stranger Will is a tale of impending parenthood, control, decisions and consequences.

Hear our full spoiler-free review at:
May 05, 2011 Christine rated it it was amazing
I recieved this book through First Reads.

I have to be honest and say this is probably not a book I would have picked up off the shelf.

I was hooked from the beginning and loved this book! :)

Thank you Caleb J. Ross for sending me this book. I would LOVE to see a zombie novel from you. I think you could make an awesome one with your care to details :)
Mar 11, 2013 Shiya rated it liked it
I went into this book knowing nothing except the character was going to have a baby. I don't mind dark books, but this just wasn't my cup of tea. At no point in the book did I like the main character (not saying I have to like him to enjoy the book). Even when he tried to do good I still didn't like him... In the end I give the book a 3.5 not because of the writing, that deserves a 4 .
Ryan Mac
Jul 12, 2011 Ryan Mac marked it as on-hold
I made it about 20 pages into this very dark book when I had to set it down. I can already see where this book is headed and I'm not sure if I can go there right now, especially as a relatively new father. It doesn't help that I think that the main character, William, is a jerk. I'm curious about what happens later in the book but will have to pick it up later.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Stay God
  • Transubstantiate
  • The Sound of Loneliness
  • Warmed and Bound: A Velvet Anthology
  • Out of Touch
  • Angel Falls
  • Hogdoggin': The Next Chapter of the Billy Lafitte Saga (Billy Lafitte, #2)
  • The Bridge of Deaths
  • Praise of Motherhood
  • Escucha Means Listen
  • It Came from Del Rio
  • Dust Devils
  • Girl Three
  • Cipher Sisters
  • Sweet Cider
  • Finding Favor
  • Incidental Daughter
  • Poppy the Proud
I'm more fun than this bio implies, I promise.

I have a BA in English Literature and creative writing from Emporia State University. My fiction and nonfiction has appeared widely, both online and in print. I am the author of five books of fiction. I am a co-host of the Important Question? Podcast which aims to explore publicly the questions you explore privately.

I am also the creator of Burning Boo
More about Caleb J. Ross...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“I started the first drafts of the book during my sophomore year of college. I wasn’t thinking at all about kids at the time. But I was thinking. A lot. About everything. I wish I could capture that head-space again; everything meant something to me in college. Every leaf, every sound, every lecture, every textbook. It’s like I was on drugs, 24/7. I am glad I was able to pair that ceaseless pondering with plenty of time to write. What came of that time was the first draft of the novel, a lengthy, unnecessarily angst-driven pile of crap. Years later, with Zoloft, I approached the novel with a more level head, and came away with a much, much better novel. My advice to writers, I suppose, is write your novel when you feel like shit; edit when you feel great.” 5 likes
More quotes…