How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie – Book review

Do you like a good-old-fashioned revenge story? Then you’re going to love How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie. This is journalist Bella Mackie‘s debut novel and her trademark wit is here. An absolutely wild ride, this story is a darkly funny, witty, deadpan take on what would happen if you let your darkest desires take charge and killed the family that had abandoned you…

Opening sentence: Limehouse prison is, as you might imagine, horrible.

Amazing Grace

24-year-old Grace Bernard is our narrator. She grew up in a small flat with her mother who struggled to make ends meet. Their situation was compounded by the fact that Grace’s father, Simon Artemis, is a multi-millionaire but refuses to have anything to do with Grace and her mother as is married and has another family.

He is also happens to be a morally dubious, self-centred person so, when her mother dies, Grace decides its time to avenge her – by killing her father and all his significant others…

When we meet her she is in prison, but significantly:

The justice system in this country is a joke, and there is nothing which illustrates that more than this one sentence: I have killed several people (some brutally, others calmly) and yet I currently languish in jail for a murder I did not commit.

Deadpan dream

I must stress here the deadpan, hilarious nature to the tone of How to Kill Your Family. It’s an absolute abandon reality and go with it vibe. In a variety of ingenious ways (from a frog sanctuary to a Big Brother style remote CCTV system via a sex club), Grace does indeed proceed to kill her family in a truly entertaining way.

I totally enjoyed this – the plot was different to any I’ve read recently, there were moments of page-turning tension scattered throughout and any book that makes you feel like you’d love to go for a drink with a lead character who, despite her worrying bloodlust, feels intelligent, complex and fully formed (if, yes, psychopathic – they are notoriously charming, after all…) A great testament to clever writing and strong character development. Definitely add this to your TBR!

If you’re in the mood for a darkly deadpan read, I have some other lovely recommendations on my book list page – in, funnily enough, the deadpan dreams section.

  • Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
  • Get your copy of How to Kill Your Family here;
  • Published by The Borough Press 22nd July 2021;
  • 400 pages;
  • My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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