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Next of Kin

(John Cleaver #3.5)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,604 ratings  ·  158 reviews
We call them demons, for lack of a better word, but the truth is something much more mysterious. In the "I am not a Serial Killer" trilogy, the young sociopath John Cleaver killed three of them to protect his family, but he has no idea what horrors he's stirred up.

Elijah Sexton was a god of the ancient world. Now he drives a hearse in a Midwest town and keeps his head down
Kindle Edition, 44 pages
Published June 29th 2014 by Fearful Symmetry, LLC (first published June 27th 2014)
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Andrea It it pretty short, and definitely not vital to understanding the series. It takes place between the third and fourth books. It's an interesting look …moreIt it pretty short, and definitely not vital to understanding the series. It takes place between the third and fourth books. It's an interesting look into the demon psyche, but if money is short you could skip it.(less)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,604 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Yolanda Sfetsos
I really enjoyed the John Cleaver trilogy about a teenage psychopath who quiets his murderous thoughts by killing demons. So when I found out that more books were on their way and this novella ties them together... I decided to check it out ASAP.

The novella is in the POV of a different character. His name is Elijah and he's one of the 'demons'. An ancient creature that steals dead people's thoughts because his own are fading fast.

He keeps to himself and has a job, but when one particular person'
Claudie ☾
It’s always great to get the other side of the story. This one was told from Elijah’s (or rather, Meshara’s) POV — one of the Gifted, or Withered, as they sometimes call themselves, who has to feed on dead people’s memories to stay alive…

Amazing introduction to the second part of this series! John was totally badass here, even if he appeared for like, half a page. 👍
On the one hand, this was a very enjoyable short story. On the other hand, after reading book 4 I'm not sure if I really think it was a necessary addition and also am entirely unsure if I would recommend reading this before or after. Reading it before introduces the second half of the series and one of the new characters, but also kind of spoils the plot up until the halfway point. Reading it after I think would be entirely pointless because you would already know all of this, albeit from a diff ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please please more Elijah!

That is all.
Mohamed Ghazi
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful start to the new era of John Cleaver.
I still advice everyone to start reading the phenomenal series by Dan Wells.
Loved every word. Great job.
This was good. I found it very interesting to be in the mind of one of the "demons." This demon though isn't like the others in that he actually cares about humans. I hope to see him in a future book. I would guess you don't have to read this short story to enjoy the whole series. It doesn't really tell you anything. It's just a nice short installment. 3.5 stars. Hopefully book 4 loan comes thru soon. 😊 ...more
Terry Weyna
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I died again last night.” It’s a compelling first sentence to a novella told from the point of view of Elijah Sexton, a demon, and it promises a different and exciting new start to Dan Wells’s JOHN CLEAVER series.

Sexton drinks memories. For a time, he killed people himself, “topping off” his memory as he pleases. Soon, though, imbued with a hundred thousand lives, he could no longer bear to kill. Instead, he works in a morgue and drinks the memories of the newly dead. He lives

"from death to dea
Jessica White
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alright, so I accidentally read The Devil's Only Friend (book 4) before I read Next of Kin because I didn't realize this novella was technically book 3.5 in the John Cleaver Series.

When I think of novellas I usually think of a really quick read, maybe a hundred pages or so. When Dan Wells thinks of a novella..... he writes less than 40 pages.
But I'm not arguing because I really needed those 34 pages!

Next of Kin explored the life of Elijah Sexton, a Gifted who happens to regularly visit the same
Kylie Stoneburner
Nov 07, 2020 rated it liked it
"More than anyone else, this book owes a debt of gratitude to my grandfather, Lowell Alley Wells, who was one of the greatest men I’ve ever met, and whose mind was eaten alive by Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t think I could have become a horror writer without living through that horror."

Am I glad that I read this novella, yes. Do I think it was necessary, no. Labeled as 3.5 but honestly has scenes from book 4, just seen through the POV of one of the demons, or withered as we come to know them.

Dallen Malna
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legendary
Basically the perfect Novella. It got me super hyped to see how out of control this series is going to become!
Brittany DeVido
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just don't want these books to end!!! I can't wait to get the next three in the mail!!!! ...more
Udy Kumra
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-fiction
Most of this novella was 3 stars but the last 2 scenes were 5 stars so this is 4 stars. And excellent! Seeing this world through the perspective of one of the demons was really cool.
Feb 20, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
is this novella like a bridge between both trilogies?

edit: upgrade to 3 stars for the line "professional psychopath"lol I guess, John isn't a sociopath anymore?
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I had read this book awhile back but I guess not - anyway good prequel to the next trilogy.
I love the original John Cleaver trilogy. The best thing about the series is John Cleaver's voice. John's a teenaged psychopath turning his murderous tendencies towards monster hunting. The glimpse we get inside his head is utterly unnerving at times. So it's hardly surprising that the best part about this excellent novella, which is to be the bridge between the original books and the upcoming sequels, is again the main character's (who is not Cleaver this time) inner voice. Dan Wells has a real ...more
Kylie Bliss
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this short add-on story to the John Cleaver series. It gave a small yet satisfying look into the life of one of the "demons" that John comes across. I enjoyed seeing how this lovable and misunderstood character went about his tragic life and would definitely recommend any John Cleaver fans not to skip over this story. ...more
Companion to The Devil's Only Friend told from an alternate character's perspective. ...more
Amelia Jacobson
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristen Landon
I love this creepy, disturbing world Wells has created.
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much better than most companion novellas I've read in a series. ...more
I died again last night.

Well. That's a way to start a story.

Next of Kin basically acts as glue between the first John Cleaver series--set around 15-16 year old John Cleaver in his hometown of Clayton--and the second--which I haven't read yet, but from the summary appears to be set a year or two later with John hunting down the demons.

This time around, we actually get into the head of one of the demons, a hearse driver currently going by the name of Elijah Sexton who steals memories. It's an int
Tina Hawley
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dan Wells does it again! This novella, set in the world of the John Cleaver books, takes a different view by telling the story of one of the "demons." Dan does a beautiful job of showing us that not all the demons may be quite as demonic as we'd like to think, and teases the new trilogy in genius ways. Elijah, the demon in question, lives by stealing the memories of the dead, and his struggle to resist seeking out his victims' loved ones when he loves them just as much as the newly deceased is b ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was quite interesting and refreshing to experience Wells' world of demons from a different set of eyes - a demon's eyes in fact (or if you prefer . . . Withered, Cursed, Gifted). Elijah Sexton was a fantastic protagonist, and as I'm writing this, I'm in the part of book 4 where Elijah still has more of a role to play. This novella is woven so much into the book 4 that I would say it is a mandatory read for those completing the sequel trilogy. It's really clever how the books overlap and build ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seems to me this would have been detrimental to my enjoyment of The Devil's Only Friend, had I read it first, but having read it afterwards, I found it mostly redundant and not very interesting. You get to see how some scenes actually played out in John Cleaver's absence, but the dialog in these scenes is not Wells' best, and for me the support group scene in particular fell embarrassingly flat. I would recommend sticking to The Devil's Only Friend (which I also found disappointing, but at least ...more
Carrie Clark
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after book 4 in the series, instead of after book 3. I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed the books more or less or the same if I'd read them in the correct order. I think I preferred reading it after book 4 because I already knew so much about Elijah when I got to this, that I felt for him more. I wish this book had been longer, and I wish Wells had written more novellas with the other Withered's points of view. It gives a very interesting spin on things. ...more
Patrick Ellard
Apr 22, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting Novella that explains the lore of the "demons" to us, how they came to be and what their motivations are etc. It was an enjoyable albeit very short read.

However I will say that the ending foreshadows the direction that the series will be going in and it does not fill me with confidence for the next three books in the series. I'm hoping that it doesn't turn into a bland action sci-fi series.
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is exactly the sort of thing these 0.5 stories are made for: give us a little more detail on a character that wouldn't naturally fit in a book.

I really enjoyed getting inside Elijah's head, so to speak. He was a very interesting character from book 3 and this little story served to both satisfy a little curiousity and increase it. So thanks for nothing, Dan Wells.
Ryan Residence
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, but poignant. Although we barely get to know the narrator, the immensity of his hollow existence is profound and terrifying. This novella hints at the origin of the demons (who we now know have various titles, each communicating a little something different about just what it means to them to have their powers), and I look forward to learning more in his next set of books!
Steven Brown
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A strong emotionally impactful short story that is best read after book 4 because of spoilers.

This is a short story that is well worth the price and can be read over an hour lunch. In that time it will draw you in and give you a punch in the feels will also.setting up a cool bittersweet twist among other twist. The concept of our point of veiw the character is sad and terrifying in its on way. Recommended for any who enjoyed Dan Wells Cleaver trilogy.
Chelsey Rothwell
I was so excited to start the fourth book when I realized there was a short novella in between! I quickly ordered it on Amazon and it got here and I was shocked it was only 33 pages! And it was incredible, such a unique perspective coming from one of the “monsters”. This is the best series I have read this year I can’t get enough of it, looking forward to the next 3 books!
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Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new w ...more

Other books in the series

John Cleaver (6 books)
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer (John Cleaver, #1)
  • Mr. Monster (John Cleaver, #2)
  • I Don't Want to Kill You (John Cleaver, #3)
  • The Devil's Only Friend (John Cleaver, #4)
  • Over Your Dead Body (John Cleaver, #5)
  • Nothing Left to Lose (John Cleaver, #6)

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47 likes · 1 comments
“His words held a mixture of embarrassment and anger, the latter caused by the former. He knew he couldn’t remember anything, and he hated it; he was ashamed and embarrassed and angry at everything in the world—himself most of all, for who else could he blame? (..) He hated this place, and he wanted to get out, and after one door and one hall and one elevator, he’d forgotten it all. He was here in a place that he recognized, and it didn’t matter that he hated it because that glimmer of recognition overshadowed every other emotion. Here was something he remembered, somewhere he’d been before, and just like that, he was happy.” 0 likes
“They used to worship us, Meshara—they used to worship you. The god of wisdom, the god of beginnings, the god of dreams. They chanted your name in the darkness, dancing naked around the first fires of the ancient world, and now you’re here, hiding and tired and worthless, as scared of living as you are of dying.” 0 likes
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