I was sent a free copy of Sinner by Christopher Graves in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Smith Publicity!
Sinner was not the book for me. While an interesting premise and good pacing, I could not overlook the content in this book and how uncomfortable in made me feel.
Content warnings for Sinner (highlight to see): murder, rape, violence against women
Sinner was based on an award-winning screenplay written by the author, Christopher Graves. It tells the story of Zeke, a religious extremist, whose life has been immersed in violence and literal interpretations of the Bible. While hiding in the world as a grocery store clerk, Zeke continues decades of violence and crusades created by his ancestors. Zeke spends his time in his cellar preparing his victims for the ultimate choice: redemption or death. Zeke’s latest victim makes a third option, though, and escapes. Now Zeke must recapture his victim or face his worst fear: the thought that God has forsaken him.
Based on content alone, I don’t know that I would have finished this book. While I love true crime and thrillers, this book was really heavy and violent towards women. Given that Zeke’s victims are women he deems “sinners” and that Zeke is a serial killer, it would make sense that he is violent towards woman. However, it is a trope I am very tired of and makes me very uncomfortable. I dislike reading about the woman who has been assaulted (view content warnings for more specificity) rising from the ashes and becoming stronger than she was before. Women can be strong without having a traumatic event to help them “realize” it. This is where Sinner fails for me. The trope really spoiled the book and kept me from fully immersing myself in Graves’ story.
Another negative, is that I found myself a little confused at moments throughout this book. There were times while I was reading that I felt like I had skipped over something important and missed a major piece of the novel. I’m not sure if this was because I wasn’t reading closely enough or because there were parts that weren’t written very clearly, but it definitely hindered on my experience reading this novel.
What redeemed this book was the pacing. Since it was previously a screenplay, the story moved quickly and had very few lulls. Since the pacing was exciting, I was able to get through this book and definitely felt some chilling moments. I think Graves did a good job at building the tension throughout this novel thanks to the pacing.
Overall, I think this book would be great for horror/thriller fans. If you like horror and can handle reading the content (see content warnings for examples), you might be a fan of Sinner. I think the reason this book wasn’t for me was because of the content.
This book gets two out of five stars from me!