Book Review: How To Kill Your Family – Bella Mackie

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

About The Book

I have killed several people (some brutally, others calmly) and yet I currently languish in jail for a murder I did not commit.

When I think about what I actually did, I feel somewhat sad that nobody will ever know about the complex operation that I undertook. Getting away with it is highly preferable, of course, but perhaps when I’m long gone, someone will open an old safe and find this confession. The public would reel. After all, almost nobody else in the world can possibly understand how someone, by the tender age of 28, can have calmly killed six members of her family. And then happily got on with the rest of her life, never to regret a thing.

When Grace Bernard discovers her absentee millionaire father has rejected her dying mother’s pleas for help, she vows revenge, and sets about to kill every member of his family. Readers have a front row seat as Grace picks off the family one by one – and the result is as and gruesome as it is entertaining in this wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder.

But then Grace is imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit.

Outrageously funny, compulsive and subversive, perfect for fans of Killing Eve and My Sister, the Serial Killer.

My Review

You know how sometimes you meet a character in a book and you think, ‘oooh, I’d really like to be friends with you’? Well, this happened to me with Grace, the protagonist and narrator of Bella Mackie’s debut fiction novel, How To Kill Your Family, the only problem is, Grace is a serial killer. Awkward.

When we meet her she is in jail for murder, a murder she didn’t actually commit. She’s furious about this. I mean, wouldn’t you be too? Especially when it wasn’t even a good murder. She is far more inventive in her crimes, taking out her victims via ingenious methods. So ingenious that I fear for Bella Mackie’s search history.

Her victims? Members of her own family. Yup, you read that right. Grace is the result of a short lived but passionate affair her mother had with a very wealthy and very charming man who also happened to be very married. When Grace’s mother dies when Grace is a teen she discovers that despite her mother’s pleas to her father for help and support he has wanted nothing to do with either of them. He was quite content to leave them to sharing a tiny one bed flat in London and let them struggle for money. Grace’s mother dying doesn’t even bother him. He couldn’t care less that his teenage daughter has nowhere to go. Unable to get over his abandonment she plots to get her own back, deciding that she will pick off his family one by one. And boy she does it with style.

This is such a great book. It is caustic, sharp and archly funny. It takes a satirical look at those with wealth, showing us their greed and their lack of compassion and empathy. Their constant striving for more and never being satisfied seeps from the pages and made me cringe with embarrassment for their classlessness. I could imagine Grace flicking through Hello magazine, an eyebrow raised at yet another photo spread of a living room with grey velvet sofas and a marble fireplace. I laughed out loud on more than occasion, recognising the Instagram generation and their constant pursuit of affirmation and the next dopamine hit of a few thousand likes. Mackie uses this book to show us that much of what we see is smoke and mirrors, that those in power are generally only out for thing; themselves and that money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you gold taps and as much botox as your face can take.

It’s such great writing, witty and intelligent with a real punch to it. I loved how Mackie turned the serial killer trope on its head and explored a female serial killer and her motivations. It is so refreshing and honestly, I didn’t think that I’d ever be rooting for a serial killer, but somehow, Mackie makes Grace likeable. Even when she is plotting the slow death of somebody you really, really want her to succeed. Her family are just so awful, (without being cartoonish, a delicate balancing act which Mackie gets pitch perfect), that you just think that she is actually doing the world the favour.

How To Kill Your Family is brilliantly plotted, inventive and a real masterclass in smart writing. It also features a really satisfying ending which made me do a little applause of appreciation. Honestly, it just gets everything right and is such a readable and fun book. I look forward to reading more from Bella Mackie, this was cracking. Recommended!

Where You Can Buy It

My thanks to HarperCollins for supplying me with a copy of the book via Netgalley.

How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie is out now in both hardcover and ebook.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: How To Kill Your Family – Bella Mackie

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