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Bella Mackie

Author of How to Kill Your Family

3 Works 787 Members 21 Reviews

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Includes the name: Bella Mackie (author)

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After a few heavier reads and a rather hectic couple of weeks, I was longing to dive into a funny, comfort read. So, of course, I plucked How to Kill Your Family from my never-ending TBR. What better way to relax than with a book about multiple murders?

The premise for this was great, and I was super excited about it going in. I enjoy a good mystery, love an unreliable narrator and am all for irony and sass in my MCs, so this seemed like a perfect fit. Alas, this is one of those cases where the execution just didn't live up to my expectations. The book started out strong but slowly started its slow descent downhill, right up until it crashed and burned at the end.

Grace is the illegitimate daughter of a millionaire who abandoned her and her mother, ignoring her mother's pleas for help as she was close to dying. After discovering this, Grace vows revenge and decides to kill every member of her father's family, leaving him for last. The story is narrated by Grace in journal form, as she is in prison for murder... except it's the only one she didn't commit.

I enjoyed the journal form, even though it made very little sense to me why Grace should ever want to commit to paper a full account of every murder she committed and so far got away with. Still, her narrating voice was snarky and sarcastic and perfect to set the tone for the book. This unfortunately didn't last very long, as soon she just became annoying and borderline offensive. The story started to drag from very early on, and I almost started to feel like reading this book was a chore.

We have a front-row seat to Grace's attempts at social commentary, which typically reduce to her hating everyone and everything and resenting the world for all that she missed. Although her feelings could be understandable, and could have been written in such a way as to allow for her character to grow, there was a distinct sense that we should be agreeing with her full stop even when she is spewing hate for no discernible reason. There were also a few very uncomfortable scenes and behaviours, which I just could not get on board with.

I didn't DNF this as I kept hoping I would actually start enjoying it, or at least find it funnier than I had so far, but unfortunately I never did. There were a few funny scenes here and there, but they were sadly not enough to carry the whole book. I also absolutely hated the ending, which just felt like an afterthought tacked on for the sake of one final plot twist.

While I appreciate what the author was trying to do here, the class commentary was just not effective and in fact more often than not was reduced to a slew of stereotypes and never-ending judgment with absolutely no foundation to stand on. For me, Grace was not the witty anti-hero she should be, but rather came across as an extremely unlikeable, self-centred and, ultimately, shallow individual. Sadly, this one was just not for me.

CW:This book contains mentions of death, murder, car accident, sexual content, drug use.


I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
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bookforthought | 19 other reviews | Nov 7, 2023 |
AHH all the feels! I loved this book so much, if your a fan of Colleen Hoover's Verity or twist endings you will most likely enjoy this! 5*
 
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KitKat101 | 19 other reviews | Sep 13, 2023 |
I might not want anti-heroine GrĂ¢ce as a friend, but I did enjoy her judgemental, snippy comments about everything from the Bored Rich to Manicured Influencers, as she does away with the family she never knew.

I could have done with shorter chapters, they always make for a speedier read, but it was fun to enter vicariously into the different worlds of each of her victims. And the twist was great.
 
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LARA335 | 19 other reviews | Aug 31, 2023 |
'How To Kill Your Family' is a clever reboot of the Ealing comedy 'Kind Hearts And Coronets' with a wicked sense of humour, lots of twenty-first-century trappings and in-jokes (including having our homicidal heroine reading 'Israel Rank', the book 'Kind Hearts And Coronets' was based on) and a truly devilish twist to liven things up.

It's a fun piece if your sense of humour runs towards the snarky and dark, which mine does. I enjoyed the constant flow of sneering observations of the vacuous vulgarity of the nouveau riche, even though they mostly served tactically to reinforce the taste of members of the long-established upper class.

I found that I shared and enjoyed reading about a great many of the misanthropic assessments made by the serial killer heroine. It made me think that it's a good job that I haven't been given a reason to wreak bloody revenge on anyone.

One of the problems I had with the book was that I didn't think that Grace Bernard, our heroine, had enough of a reason to focus her whole life on revenging herself by killing off all the members of her estranged family. Yes, she'd made a vow as a young teenager to revenge the harm she thought her family had done to her mother but I found it hard to believe that she'd still be following that plan more than a decade later.

For most of the book, Grace struck me as naive and emotionally stunted. She didn't plan well. She took no real joy in what she was doing. She was good at making snarky comments and observing people's weaknesses. She could make herself angry enough to commit to violence when it was needed but she seemed largely unaware of the risks that she was taking. The combination of this lack of awareness and her reliance on improvisation and luck over planning and preparation took a lot of the tension out of the various killings that she committed.

By the end of the book, I understood that portraying Grave this way was intentional and that most interesting parts of the plot depended on it but somewhere around the halfway mark I'd started to run out of patience with her.

The ending made up for all that. I didn't see it coming but it wasn't some slight of hand trick that tested my ability to suspend disbelief, rather it was like a perfectly executed magic trick that had had me looking in all the wrong places. It was a wonderful twist that not only worked but was deeply satisfying and fiendishly clever.

I listened to the audiobook version of 'How To Kill Your Family'. It worked well enough but I found the delivery of the main narrator very flat at the beginning. I got used to it and I can see that it was an interpretation of Grace's character but I was irritated by the way the narration ignored the rhythm of the text and sometimes buried punchlines. The second narrator was pitch-perfect.

Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of the narration.

https://soundcloud.com/harpercollinspublishers/how-to-kill-your-family-by
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½
 
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MikeFinnFiction | 19 other reviews | Aug 16, 2023 |

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