Ella, The Slayer

Ella, The Slayer (Serenity House #1) by A. W. Exley


Seventeen-year-old Ella copes the best she can; caring for her war-injured father, scrubbing the floors, and slaying the undead that attack the locals. Vermin they're called, like rats they spread pestilence with their bite. Ella's world collides with another when she nearly decapitates a handsome stranger, who is very much alive.
Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfield, has returned to his ancestral home with a mission from the War Office -- to control the plague of vermin in rural Somerset. He needs help; he just didn't expect to find it in a katana-wielding scullery maid.
Working alongside Seth blurs the line between their positions, and Ella glimpses a future she never dreamed was possible. But in overstepping society's boundaries, Ella could lose everything - home, head and her heart...


"You shouldn't be out in the woods alone. There are undead about, but I suspect you know that."
What gave it away? Maybe the piece of red matter stuck to my boot. Was that spinal column? I snorted back a giggle.

I picked this story up because of its author. Not because Exley has proven to be a such a competent and intriguing writer in the past that I couldn't pass on the opportunity to read another of her books but, on the contrary, because I thought Nefertiti's Heart was so, quote unquote, bad it was funny. Combining the awkward fun I had with said book and the concept of a zombie-slaying Cinderella? Well, needless to say, I was intrigued.

But, ultimately, this was a disappointment. It was neither funny nor particularly interesting. Basically, it was a slightly below-average story with maybe slightly below-average characters – and it had a definite below-average impact on me. In other words: I was bored. Very bored. You know those kinds of books you start reading and immediately wish you had picked something else? Well, this one belongs to that category.

Exley seems to have a tendency to write about "strong female characters" (you know, those that kick-ass to some capacity) but not only did Ella fail to even fulfil said description (shrinking from her step-mother, shrinking from her "duty" as slayer just as Seth arrives) there also isn't much more to her character than that. In Nefertiti's Heart the protagonist had additional stuff to work through besides being a bad-ass (it wasn't done well but at least there was something), Ella, however, was simply Ella-who-sometimes-kills-zombies-with-a-katana.

Lots of elements in this book played out similarly. The zombies were very boring – although the whole "the church doesn't know yet whether killing zombies is bad or not" concept was mildly interesting it was never explored in a satisfying way. The Cinderella plot was nothing but dull and stereotypical (retellings can be fun if you play around with the concept enough to create something truly new out of it). The setting (time-wise) fell flat. The romance happened way to fast and was so cheesily see-through that it put me to sleep. I could go on but I think you've got the gist of it.

"Such a glorious spot to grow up. You must have had so many adventures around here." I know I did. I doubt there's a tree I hadn't climbed in the district, or a river that I hadn't stripped down to my chemise and swam in.
He shook his head. "I gaze at it and see only a procession of sad memories."
"Oh." Well, that drained some of the magic out of the sight.


You know, it was below-average but it really wasn't a catastrophe or anything. I was bored, sure, but that's it. Objectively, this one was better than Nefertiti's Heart. I'll give it 2/5 stars.


Name: Ella, The Slayer
Series: Serenity House (but I'm not planning on continuing this series)
Author: A. W. Exley
Publisher: Ribbonwood Press
Pages: 238
Where?: Amazon


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