Imaginative, hilarious, gruesome: How to Kill Your Family, by Bella Mackie (book review)

Limehouse prison is, as you might imagine, horrible. Except maybe you can’t imagine it, not really. There are no games consoles and flatscreen TVs, as you have surely read about in the newspapers. There’s no friendly communal vibe, no sisterly tribe – the atmosphere is usually frantic, hideously loud, and it often feels as though a fight will break out at any moment. From the beginning, I’ve tried to keep my head down. I stay in my cell as much as possible, in between meals that could optimistically be described as occasionally digestible, and attempt to avoid my roommate, as she tiresomely likes to be called.

How to Kill Your Family

Grace Bernard is in jail for murder. She has murdered people; many people, her family in fact, but it is not for these murders that she is currently serving jail time for, and she would like justice.

I was hooked by this book from the off. Grace has such an unmistakeably strong voice and her sarcastic and darkly humorous observations of life and the people around her made me snort with laughter.

I have a plan in my mind, but no idea whether I’ll be able to pull it off. I have a wig that I bought at cosmetics shop in Finsbury Park, which looked convincing enough under the store strip lighting, but appears worryingly flammable in the Spanish sun. Despite this free-floating anxiety about my lack of preparation, excitement spreads through me. As I fix my wig and apply my makeup, I feel as though I’m getting ready for a brilliant date, and not at all like I’m on the way to kill my grandparents.

How to Kill Your Family

We learn that Grace’s father, Simon, a millionaire businessman with dubious moral standards, left her mother, Marie, when she was pregnant to go back to his wife and baby daughter. He cut Grace and Marie out of his life and told them never to contact him. As Grace grew up watching her mother struggle to make enough money for them to survive and Simon ignoring her pleas to help them, Grace swore revenge against not only her father but his entire family.

So that’s my dad. Not the one I’d have picked had I been consulted, but there we are. Some people have fathers who beat them, some have fathers who wear Crocs. We all have our crosses to bear.

How to Kill Your Family

If you are a fan of Killing Eve, you will love this book as it tears round London, Monaco, Marbella and St Tropez, following Grace on her murderous excursions. She’s the anti-hero you can’t help but root for. The murders are also wonderfully imaginative and comically gruesome (frogs, that’s all I’ll say). But they are also totally believable in terms of the length of time and effort this character would put into killing her victims. Pure enjoyment, if you like that sort of thing.

Now, the ending. Full shocker. I hated it because it wasn’t the ending I wanted for Grace, but it was very clever and probably a far superior fate for Grace than one I could ever think up. I honestly can’t wait for Bella Mackie to write another book.

Have you read this book? What did you think of Grace and Simon?

Published by luggageandscribble

Oh hey, just a girl who loves reading.

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