Book Review – How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

books, reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My family holiday was lovely overall. There was one awkward moment when, during a day at the beach, I revealed this baby. I don’t think any of them trusted me for the rest of the week. I swear they were hiding the knives just in case. There were definite side-eyes over the dinner table. It was probably a mistake to pick this as one of my holiday reads but I was desperate to finally read it. It sounded like such a fun book. Like a bit of a British American Psycho.

I had high expectations for this book, which normally means that I end up disappointed. Thankfully, How To Kill Your Family changed everything. I did have a few issues with but overall it was a super fun read. And very different to anything I’ve read in a while. I thought it was such a refreshing crime novel and I look forward to reading more by Bella Mackie in the future. The concept of this book alone is enough to get me to agree to that.

Imagine getting away with 6 murders and then being locked up for one that you didn’t commit. Talk about a slap in the face. That’s the situation facing Grace and she’s not going to let it stop her. After all, she’s successfully killed off most of her family. It all came about after her mother died and Grace found out everything about her father. The famous millionaire abandoned his young girlfriend when he found out she was pregnant and ignored all of her pleas for help. To avenge her mother’s memory, Grace decides that he has to pay and she’s got a particularly gruesome plan.

What is so refreshing about this novel is that it manages to find the perfect balance between dark and depressing with fun. It deals with plenty of real-world issues but it also has a tongue in its cheek. You’ll be laughing one minute and then feeling uncomfortable the next. I can see why many people don’t like this. If you only like reading books about nice and kind people then it’s not for you. For me, I think narrators should be more awful, so I totally engaged with Grace immediately.

Grace is undeniable proof that villains are much easier to engage with. She’s not exactly evil but she’s not a sweet and innocent young woman. She’s a sociopath who regards most people as worthless and irritating. Maybe I engaged with her because I saw something of myself in her? What I did really enjoy was that she did have some nuance. Grace wasn’t just a one-note evil bitch. She had some levels and wasn’t just another woman scorned. Admittedly, I would have appreciated a few more levels but it just about worked.

What was more disappointing was the story itself. It just dragged on a little bit. There was a lot of faffing around before we got to where we wanted to be. Also, I’ve never been a fan of narratives that flip between the past and present, which is what happens here. Grace is telling her story as she waits in prison. It’s not a straight timeline and she flips all over the place. I found it a little irritating and would have preferred a chronological story. However, I guess it was done to replicate human behaviour. Who hasn’t started telling a story and then gone off on a tangent in the middle?

Still, despite my misgivings, I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it so much that I can ignore the irritations and give it 4 stars. I’ll always love a book full of dark humour and I’ll always champion books featuring terrible people.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

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