The Murders of Molly Southbourne
This review is full of spoilers, because it's my blog and I'll spoil if I want to. tl;dr: get thee to the Tor.com eBook of the Month Club
I almost never read horror, but got Tade Thompson's THE MURDERS OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE for free from the Tor.com eBook of the Month Club and steeled myself to check it out. It freaked me right the fuck out. Which, I suppose, is the point of horror? I am too delicate for this genre!
As I mention basically every time I review a novella, I love the novella length. This is a pretty short novella, and was easy to read in one sitting. I was surprised by how fast it went, in fact--in a lot of ways this felt like reading a short story. (Okay, there were times when I wondered if it should have been a short story instead.)
Most of the horror is psychological. There's some gore, dismemberment of bodies and deadly fight scenes, but the really impactful stuff, for me, was the mollys who weren't just all about violent, bloody death, but were conversationalists instead. That was creepy as shit.
I like the central conceit--the idea of the self being overtaken by other versions of the same self. If I have one complaint about the book, in fact, it was that (spoiler) the ending felt pretty low impact to me because there are hints dropped throughout the narrative that suggest that it's not the first time a molly has replaced the 'original' Molly. Before I got to the end, I was pretty sure that it had happened before, and she just hadn't remembered accurately--which was part of the horror, I thought. Looking back, it's possible that this wasn't what was actually happening, but the impression of it was certainly there. So the idea of the old self cooperating with the replacement was the only new part, and the ending was a little anticlimactic.
Relatedly, I wish I understood more clearly why Molly found herself so suicidal by the end. I mean, okay, killing yourself over and over could certainly acclimate you to the idea of killing yourself. It just didn't feel like the end of the story, to me--it felt like the time you look back on, and laugh about cynically over beer with friends because, as Robin Eames says, "when you get to/ that point you have to either laugh or just/ fucking kill yourself & I already tried that/ & it didn’t work out, so, this is where I live now."
So anyway, I guess I don't really read horror because I'm the sort to laugh instead of kill myself. But if you read horror you will probably like this one, and even if you don't read horror you should absolutely check out the eBook of the Month Club offered by Tor.com because they've offered a wide variety of fantastic books--I recently read Witchmark by CL Polk, which was a book of the month also, and really enjoyed it.