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Death in Her Hands: A Novel by Ottessa…
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Death in Her Hands: A Novel (edition 2020)

by Ottessa Moshfegh (Author)

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1155171,697 (3.25)2
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by: The Washington Post, Vogue, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, New York Magazine, Paste Magazine, LitHub, E! News Online, and many more From one of our most ceaselessly provocative literary talents, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds an ominous note on a walk in the woods. While on her daily walk with her dog in a secluded woods, a woman comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground by stones. "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." But there is no dead body. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to this area, alone after the death of her husband, and she knows no one. Becoming obsessed with solving this mystery, our narrator imagines who Magda was and how she met her fate. With very little to go on, she invents a list of murder suspects and possible motives for the crime. Oddly, her suppositions begin to find correspondences in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to fade into menacing certainty. As her investigation widens, strange dissonances accrue, perhaps associated with the darkness in her own past; we must face the prospect that there is either an innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one. A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, Death in Her Hands asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both reflect the truth and keep us blind to it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, and the stakes have never been higher.… (more)
Member:j_aroche
Title:Death in Her Hands: A Novel
Authors:Ottessa Moshfegh (Author)
Info:Penguin Press (2020), 272 pages
Collections:Your library
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Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

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Showing 5 of 5
While out on her morning walk Vesta finds a mysterious letter hinting at the murder of Magda. With no body and no motive, and not knowing the Magda of which the letter refers, Vesta begins piecing together her own version of events that quickly escalates into an obsession as she begins to make connections between her made up events and goings on in her real life small town. But when the edges of reality and fantasy blur, how well can we trust Vesta herself?

I was drawn to the story after reading the blurb, but as I progressed I realized how much Death in Her Hands is not a typical read for me. I haven't read anything else by Ottessa Moshfegh, but she's not entirely unfamiliar to me and I thought a new book would be a good introduction to the author.

The opening lines Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body. are absolutely brilliant and a perfect example of how to pull the reader immediately into a story. I was intrigued. But the story proceeded at a more languorous pace as Vesta supposes what has or could or should have happened to the mysteriously unknown Magda. With long sentences that drive forward Vesta's suppositions but also tend to recall her past experiences in the same breath, you understand that every single word has weight, every single occurrence has the potential to have importance so you have to read the story with careful detail. No getting excited and skimming certain passages.

For me, this makes it a heavy read. For all that it's relatively short. I loved seeing the story start to spiral. That moment where you, like Vesta, begin questioning everything that you just read. I loved the author's play on words and meaning especially in regards to the title. I think this is a book that has deeper meaning and reveals more truths with you go back and read it again. Little things that were missed the first time around become clear when you know where things originate.

Overall, I wish the conclusion could have been a bit more definitive. I think that the beginning of the story set such a high bar, and such high stakes were kind of touted throughout, that the rest couldn't really compete. Certainly an interesting read and the writing itself is really well done that I'm interested enough to check out Ottessa Moshfegh's other titles. ( )
  AmyM3317 | Jun 23, 2020 |
Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh is the type of novel that, upon finishing, had me mentally throwing the book across the room screaming "What. The!" We are stuck in the mind of a judgmental, fat-phobic, psychologically-abused widow who is so damn lonely and isolated that you end up questioning the whole damn novel. No thank you.

To make matters worse, the narrative is not stream-of-consciousness nor is it the ramblings of someone who is mentally ill. I might be able to appreciate it more because at least I know that we are literally in the narrator's mind. Instead, we have to listen to this omniscient narrator who may or may not be unreliable. We just don't know because the ending is so nebulous.

Even more disappointing, the note that the narrator finds within the opening sentences is nothing more than a lure to get you to read the story. Once the narrator starts down the road of imagining her own murder mystery surrounding the note, you understand that no one will find out the note's origins or validity. Then again, by the end, you wonder whether the note ever truly existed.

I feel duped having read Death in Her Hands. Maybe it is my own fault for not understanding what metaphysical suspense is, but there is literally no point to this story, in my opinion at least. It is not a murder mystery nor is there a satisfactory conclusion, let alone any conclusion. The only suspense comes from a dawning realization that our narrator may not be as trustworthy as we initially think. Other reviewers point out that this is a typical Ottessa Moshfegh novel. If so, I don't think she is the author for me.
  jmchshannon | Jun 17, 2020 |
My thanks to the Author publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a Kindle version of this book to read and honestly review.
According to the blurb this is A triumphant blend of horror, suspense and pitch-black comedy. Our recently widowed heroine whilst out walking her dog finds a hand written note pinned to the ground by black pebbles, announcing the death of Magda. What follows is a quirky strange tale of obsession, where instead of simply handing the note to the police, she sets about solving the mystery herself. Well written with an assortment of odd characters this is an engaging read. However whilst having no problem finishing the book, I was ultimately disappointed, and certainly found it lacking in horror or real suspense. ( )
  Gudasnu | Jun 3, 2020 |
The lonely, imaginative (immediately dubious for the reader), 72-year-old Vesta Gul, while walking her dog, comes across a note about a murder with no body, seemingly impossible to solve ("Was futility a subject worthy of exploration?"), and does the writerly thing of creating an elaborate story to fit it.
  beaujoe | Dec 15, 2019 |
Nah ( )
  kvschnitzer | Dec 8, 2019 |
Showing 5 of 5
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"Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body."
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From one of our most ceaselessly provocative literary talents, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds an ominous note on a walk in the woods.

While on her daily walk with her dog in a secluded woods, a woman comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground by stones. “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.” But there is no dead body. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to this area, alone after the death of her husband, and she knows no one.

Becoming obsessed with solving this mystery, our narrator imagines who Magda was and how she met her fate. With very little to go on, she invents a list of murder suspects and possible motives for the crime. Oddly, her suppositions begin to find correspondences in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to fade into menacing certainty. As her investigation widens, strange dissonances accrue, perhaps associated with the darkness in her own past; we must face the prospect that there is either an innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one.

A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, Death in Her Hands asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both reflect the truth and keep us blind to it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, and the stakes have never been higher.
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