“A family massacre. A deluded murderess. Five witnesses. Six Stories. Which one is true?”
Welcome to my stop on the Hydra blog tour, I’ve been [not so] patiently waiting to share my review of this brilliant book with you. Before we even get to the book description and my review, you may as well know, you need this book in your life! Could it be possible, that in the first month of this year, we’ve already found the best book of 2018!?!
One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess… Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.
First, a little bit of background, if you’ve read Six Stories, also by Wesolowski, you’ll know he has this totally original way of narrating his novels. Six Stories is a podcast hosted by Scott King, in which he explores “true crime” cases; in each episode (chapter) he has a different guest related to the case and he explores their perspective on what occurred. Hydra is an episode of Six Stories and this podcast, excuse me – this novel, focuses on the case of the Macleod Massacre. You don’t have to have read Six Stories prior to reading Hydra as each novel focuses on its own case with King being the only returning character. But I say, read Six Stories anyway because it’s so good!
Now, on to the brilliance that is Hydra, I loved it, and if you’re a fan of true crime, postcasts, crime fiction, in fact, if you enjoy reading good books, you’ll love it too! What makes Hydra so great is the original narration and the interesting case being examined. I won’t go into detail and tell you who King interviews because that’s part of the fun, discovering for yourself who shares their perspective on the case and their connection to Arla. But I will tell you who the first guest is, it’s Arla herself and I cannot even begin to describe the creepy and unsettling vibe that ran through her account – who are these black-eyed kids!?
Sometimes, it’s the little things that you appreciate in novels and help make them what they are. In Hydra, I love that a criminal psychologist was briefly brought into one of the interviews King hosts. In real life, whenever such a tragedy occurs, experts are always brought in to give their opinion and by doing so in this novel, it made it feel more real. In fact, the believability of this novel is scary, I said it about Six Stories and I’ll say it again about Hydra, if you told me this was a real life case, and Hydra a non-fiction book, I would believe you, such is the strength of Wesolowski’s writing. Don’t be deterred if you don’t read non-fiction because this has all the gripping qualities of a fictional novel, I just want to highlight how much this novel draws you in, how it lingers like reading about a true crime would.
Each episode/chapter brings something new to the mystery; there are many theories surrounding why Arla murdered her family, but one particular line stuck with me throughout this entire novel because I believe it’s so true:
“Monsters can only be made, monsters are not born.”
Another great thing about this novel is that as King is conducting his podcast, he makes it clear that his job isn’t to make judgements, draw conclusions and speculate, that’s for us to do. And, oh boy, does Wesolowski have us making judgement, drawing conclusins and speculating! You will certainly have an opinion on what you read.
One last thing, the suspense that builds throughout this novel is crazy, especially going into episode/chapter 6. And the ending, oh my god – THE ENDING, my jaw hit the floor, brilliant! So, I sign of this review saying you need this book in your life like you need blood flowing through your veins!
My thanks to Orenda Books & Anne Cater (A Random Things Tour) for providing me with a copy of this book and inviting me to participate in the blog tour*
About the Author:
Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.
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