Book review: How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

I wrote this a week ago, but decided publishing a review of a book called How to Kill your Family on Christmas Eve was in poor taste, particularly as my dad reads this blog (for the record the thought has never crossed my mind).

Kelly decided that I was her new best friend, and worse, a trophy cellmate. At breakfast, she will bustle up to me, linking arms and whispering to me as if we are in the middle of a confidential discussion. I’ve heard her talking to the other prisoners, her voice dropping to a stage whisper, as she intimates that I’ve confessed all the details of my crime to her. She wants leverage and respect from the other girls, and if anyone can provider her with it, the Morton murderer can. It is immensely tiresome.

Grace Bernard is writing her memoir from a jail cell in Limehouse prison. She was locked up for a murder she did not commit. Her memoir confesses to murders that she did commit. By age 28 she had killed six members of her own family.

Helene was kind, but she was hardly a great intellect, and had a fairly basic level of insight. Her favourite shows were all on ITV, if that makes it at all clearer.

She was raised by a single mother who died of cancer and exhaustion when Grace was a teenager. Whilst her mother was dying Grace discovered that her father was a business tycoon and owner of a well known fashion label. He had abandoned her mother and wanted nothing to do with Grace. Grace spends her remaining teenage years plotting revenge.

How to Kill Your Family is a story of class, family, betrayal, rejection and retribution. Dark and at times brutal, yet told with a hilarious wry humour.

Kelly asks if I want to talk anything over, tilting her head in what I image she thinks is a sympathetic gesture. She knows my final appeal is due any day now, and her recent forays into group therapy seem to have convinced her that she has a bright future in counselling. I have to stifle the urge to explain that the vest therapy that Harley Street has to offer wouldn’t help me much, so I doubt that Kelly’s offer of trying to contact my inner child will suddenly fix whatever she imagines might be wrong with me. Besides the fact that Kelly is an undeniable moron, I think talking is overrated.

The character of Grace is a little reminiscent of Villanelle from Killing Eve. Grace is smart, sarcastic, cunning, meticulous, judgemental and conniving. Yet despite her psychopathic tendencies and twisted view of the world, you can’t help but like her.

A great read for when you a looking for some light-hearted dark humour.

Happy New Year, may 2022 be kind to you. See you out the other side.

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