One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence – A Book Review




In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.


Author: Mark Lawrence

Publisher: 47north

Pages: 201

Release Date: 01/05/2019

Series: ‘Impossible Times’ Book 1

My Rating of ‘One Word Kill’: 5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US




That’s really all that needs to be said about One Word Kill but, if that’s all I said, I wouldn’t be much of a book reviewer, I suppose. The book starts off with a teenage boy coming to terms with the fact that he has cancer. Literally, we are thrust into his diagnosis. I wanted to read this when it first came out but, expecting a sad, depressive slog, I opted to wait a little bit. I wish I had got it straight away as it is anything but the depressive read I expected.

One Word Kill is a funny romp through time and space … and 1986. It’s got so many funny/incredibly well-written moments or descriptions that I couldn’t help but highlight a few on my kindle (something I don’t normally bother doing as it takes a lot for an author to wow me. Mark wowed me a handful of times). My particular favourite being about one character having been sent to private school so he could be ‘bullied less viciously and by a better class of bully’.

Being a dungeon master to my D&D group, I loved the nerd moments in this and also love that each book in the series is named after (well, in a way that won’t infringe on Wizards of the Coast’s Intellectual Property) spells from D&D.

The cast of characters are the perfect blend of awkward and borderline cool to make the group fit effortlessly well in ways that you might not actually expect them to fit at all. Every character in said group has his or her own flare that makes them unique and, in only 200 pages, Mark has done incredibly well at making them all feel like real people.

The villains in One Word Kill are no exception. You can’t help but hate them and, with one in particular, fear that he’s lurking behind every street corner, knife in hand, just waiting to leap on Nick and his friends.

My only slight iffy moment as far as characters go is that the group didn’t figure out who Demus was sooner … the clue is literally in the name; a name that stares at them pretty much every week at their session. Then again, to assume that’s who he was would involve them accepting that impossibilities were realities, so I suppose I can let them off on that account.

I said earlier that it wasn’t the depressive novel I expected, but it still has its sad moments. I genuinely feel that the parts involving Nick and Eva will make any reader think differently towards others and may even make some of us better people. I can’t remember if we learn how Eva faired with her battle against cancer, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion I know how things turn out for her.

I’ve already said more than I needed to. The simple ‘wow’ from the start or the slightly more praisy ‘This is one heck of a special book’ are all this one needs. Its books like this that make me happy the author doesn’t write a few and then stall on the rest of the series for a decade. At least we know Mark Lawrence is a trilogy machine and that this will be finished by the end of 2019.

If anyone is looking for a plucky, hilarious, upbeat short read this summer, pick up One Word Kill. It’s one hell of a ride.


16 thoughts on “One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence – A Book Review

  1. Sounds like something I need to put on my To Read List. Nice review. A book to read both for fun and instruction, perhaps. I’d like to see how the author handles using 1986 for his setting since I remember that time well, and I love D&D/rpg’s myself and used to play quite a lot so that sounds fun too. Will also be interested to see how the novel successfully, as you say, handles having the protagonist dealing with cancer without having the story turn readers off by being too depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you do get around to reading it, I look forward to seeing your thoughts.

      I feel the same. Drew at the Tattooed Book Geek started his book review of for this by saying ‘I have something special here’. So I thought the exact same as you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I hope so too! 😀 Sounds like a really cool little book, and the second installment is out already, so I will make a request in my library pretty soon 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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