Meda may look like a slightly scruffy teenage girl, but in truth, she is a monster: She eats souls, and she enjoys it. She can’t just slurp a soul from a person in a dainty, nongruesome fashion, either: She has to physically rip her victims apart to get at them.

She enjoys that part, too. Which is a good thing, since she needs to do it to stay alive.

But her mother taught her well, and so, like Dexter Morgan, she is a monster with a code: She only eats people who deserve it. And since every ghost she runs into—in addition to her superspeed, superstrength and aforementioned soul-sucking abilities, she can see the ghosts of murderees—is desperate to be avenged, she’ll never come close to running out of meal tickets.

As far as she knows, she’s one-of-a-kind. She’s never run into anyone else who can do what she does, and no one—not even her own mother—has offered up answers about why she’s different.

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A job in an insane asylum gone wrong, an attack by men in black suits, a last-minute rescue by a Templar-in-training, and Meda is suddenly hiding in plain sight among the very people who’ve dedicated their lives to eradicating her kind. The only way she’s going to survive—let alone find some answers—is to keep them from learning the truth about her…and refraining from eating any of them along the way.

I ADORED Eliza Crewe’s Cracked. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s full of action and bare-handed decapitations. Meda’s voice is hilarious and snarky and brash and inhuman and original. She’s an art lover with a wonderfully morbid sense of humor, a monster who takes joy in brutal violence but who secretly hates herself for giving in to her mindless rage, and she’s a girl who’s all alone and just wants to know who she is. She's a quick thinker who considers every angle of a situation, and she doesn't yearn for humanity or, as Buffy’s Spike so wonderfully puts it, exhibit any of “that Anne Rice crap.” She's a mostly unrepentant killer who doesn't shy away from playing the damsel in distress card—even when she's the most dangerous thing in the room.

While Meda is a fantastic creation, the rest of the book is super, too! Most of the exposition is worked in over the course of a few pages, but rather than going the lazy infodump route, Crewe doles it out during a hilarious interrogation scene. And it's more than just simply funny: That scene doubles as a showcase of Meda's personality, as well as her impressive skills of manipulation (Chi, the boy she's pumping for information, doesn't even notice what she's doing). Her team is comprised of a somewhat doofy All-American hometown hero-type, a supremely crabby brainiac whose physical impairment prevents her peers from seeing her value, and a young, eager tag-along with the personality of a golden retriever; the story deals heavily with the issues surrounding being the Chosen One (and not just in regards to our heroine); and despite the paranormal elements, there is NO LOVE TRIANGLE. It’s even better than that, actually: Our heroine doesn’t even HAVE a love interest*.

I’d love to give you a few excerpts, but as the finished copy won’t be released for a few weeks yet, I shall hold off. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it, and all I want to know now is this: WHEN CAN WE EXPECT THE SEQUEL?? Until then—and for you, until the November 5 publication date—here are a few others to fill the Meda-less void:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: A ghost hunter falls in love with a ghost! More spookily atmospheric than Cracked by far, but both books are heavy on the gallows humor, the gore, and most importantly, the heart, and both are perfect picks for fans of Buffy and Supernatural.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay: As I’ve said before, I think the television show—at least the first few seasons—is far stronger than the book series, but the similarities between Meda and Dexter cannot be denied. In addition to both being monsters with a code, they both revel in darkly humorous wordplay, and their emotional detachment leads them both look at other people anthropologically.

Misfit by Jon Skovron: Like Meda, Jael has a terrifying bloodline, and like Meda, Jael doesn't necessarily buy into the whole Nature Over Nurture thing. Unlike Meda, though, Jael has a support network...or, at least, a support network that who knows what she is, and still hasn’t walked away.


*I suspect that will change in the second installment, though.

If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while re-watching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.