Motherthing by Ainslie Hogarth – Book review

In the run up to Halloween, if you’re looking for a horror themed book with a difference, may I recommend Motherthing. This is the story of Abby and it does take some dark and gory turns. There’s even some ghosts and psychics thrown into the mix… It looks at a theme lots of people do indeed find scary – motherhood in all its forms.

What is a Motherthing?

The first thing to say about Motherthing is that while it references some dark and serious issues such as the affects of suicide and psychosis, it’s also funny. In the very best dry, deadpan way. Some of Abby’s observations on life or her take on a situation are so relatable. They connected with my sarcastic core or really resonate on a deeper, cutting level, making it such a clever, engrossing read.

Winter never lets you forget you’re alive. Maybe that’s why it makes people sad.

Abby had a traumatic childhood with a lack of mother’s love and looked to fill the gap with motherthings – finding her comfort elsewhere, including inanimate objects.

Abby is now married to Ralph and has a desire to be a mother. The book explores all angles of motherhood: how Abby deals with finding out others are pregnant when she isn’t, her fractured relationship with her own mother and the warped relationship with her mother-in-law, Laura, whose suicide triggers the events of the book.

Things get a bit chaotic for Abby as Laura’s ghost haunts her in more ways than one…

Written as Abby’s stream of consciousness (I enjoyed the unique ‘scene’ elements that were flashes back to moments in Abby & Ralph’s past), the closeness and then fracture of Abby and Ralph’s relationship is brilliantly captured as Ralph doesn’t cope amazingly with his mother’s death.

To lose this sense of yourself must surely be awful, but maybe, she thinks, it’s worse to die without ever knowing yourself at all.

Nothing scarier than motherhood

The ending does take a gory twist, but that just adds to the horror credentials. By that point you will be fully immersed in Abby’s tale – I really felt for her – so that it seems like a natural conclusion really. It did to me anyway. I very much enjoyed Motherthing as it felt so different from anything I’ve read recently.

In the spirit of Halloween, here’s a spooky link: Abby’s surname is Lamb, which was also the surname of the book I finished just before this one – The Family Upstairs – what are the chances? And what can it mean??

  • Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
  • Get your copy of Motherthing here;
  • Published by Vintage September 2022;
  • 288 pages;
  • My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 thoughts

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