Book Review: Don’t Kill the Messenger by Eileen Rendahl

Melina Markowitz is a Messenger, a go-between for paranormal forces and supernatural creatures. Problem is, when a girl’s a go-between, it’s hard not to get caught in the middle…

When ninjas steal an envelope from Melina, her search leads her to a Taoist temple in Old Sacramento, where the priests seem to practice Zen and the art of mayhem. Melina learns from the handsome ER doctor (and vampire) who gave her the envelope that it contained talismans created by the priests to control Chinese vampires, who are attacking gang members to spark a street war.

Although he may look more like a surfer than a cop, Ted Goodnight is dead serious about investigating the surge in gang violence. At every turn he runs into Melina, a very attractive-and very mysterious-young woman. Can Melina enlist his help to battle something he doesn’t even believe in without blowing her cover?

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First off, I have to thank my lovely friend Patricia Rickrode for gifting me with this book. She had a great idea to give books away to everyone who commented on her blog (which I obviously did), reinforcing the importance of readers leaving reviews. I thought that was a creative way to share books while selflessly garnering reviews for other authors. Genius! If you don’t follow her blog, you should.

So…Don’t Kill the Messenger is the first book in the Messenger series, and for me, it was a mixed bag.


photo courtesy of / Stuart Miles

THE UNIQUE WORLD. This is urban fantasy, but the concept was something fresh and fun. Our main character, Melina, basically died when she was 3 and returned…with Messenger responsibilities. This isn’t really explained, but that’s okay. It’s urban fantasy, after all. But a Messenger was a new and interesting concept I hadn’t read before, so that was intriguing. As a Messenger, Melina is tasked with making no-questions-asked deliveries between all the supernatural beings in the world. And that’s another thing I loved–the full range of supernaturals. There are vampires, werewolves, witches, imps, zombies, gnomes, everything! But if she doesn’t make the deliveries, she’s plagued with bad luck until the delivery is made (she learned that the hard way, of course).

MARTIAL ARTS. I’m a martial arts girl, so the fact Melina not only practiced martial arts but taught kids at her local dojo…I was IN. All the lingo and brand names and struggles that go along with it had me nodding. Oh yeah, I felt her pain.

NINJAS. ‘Nuff said, because…ninjas.

CHINESE VAMPIRE ZOMBIES. Seriously. How could you not want to read about Chinese vampire zombies? That went right along with the unique world Melina deals with on a daily basis.

ROMANCE: There was just enough romance to make me happy, and I was definitely on board with the person Melina chose to get a little frisky with, although she did have a few other options that probably would’ve been just as fun.

THE GANG: Once Melina’s individual friends from all her different worlds converged, I really liked them together. They were fun and they squabbled and made each other a little crazy, but their care for Melina made a common cause. I would’ve loved to see them together more on the pages.


First person POV isn’t generally my favorite, but it won’t make me shy away from a book I really want to read. Melina’s introspection was often entertaining, not gonna lie. The problem for me, though, was there was just too much introspection and not a lot of action, especially at the beginning of the book. Even though I liked Melina’s character, I eventually got bored with her inner monologue, simply because there was so much of it. And maybe the problem was that Melina was mostly investigating by herself for a good portion of the book. Who else is she going to talk to, right?

I also didn’t feel completely immersed in the story until the end, and that was probably due to the combination of too much introspection and first person POV. Until the gang got together, I felt as if I was being told the story by Melina more than being in the story with her, which made it hard to enjoy the read as much as I wish I could have.

Melina’s job as a supernatural Messenger is initially what leads her to trouble in the story, but the side missions felt unconnected to the main plot line, which pulled me a little more out of the story. They were sorta fun, true, but didn’t tie in with figuring out how to stop the villain and his creatures.

All in all, Don’t Kill the Messenger had a lot going for it with a unique world, fun protagonist, and interesting supernatural creatures. It’s the first in a 3-book series, and I’m sure Melina will have a lot more opportunities to get into trouble.


  1. Thanks for posting your review Coleen! I appreciate that you took the time to participate in my experiment. I hope to carry on with book gifting in the future.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. CJ Burright says:

      And thanks for the book! Such a great idea. 🙂

  2. Aaah yes too much inner monologue can pull me away from a story for sure. It does sound like a nice read even with the quibbles 🙂

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Yep, despite the excessive time spent in the character’s head, it was still a fun read!

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