I am delighted to be on the blog tour today for Hydra by Matt Wesolowski. I’d like to say thank you to Orenda books for providing me with a copy, and Anne Cater for running, and allowing me to be part of the tour.
About the book
Hydra was published by Orenda books on January 15th 2018 in paperback – ebook formats are also available.
A family massacre
A deluded murderess
Which one is true?
One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess…
Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.
I read Six Stories last year, and I knew straight after reading that Matt Wesolowski was a special author to watch out for in the future, and with his new book Hydra he’s certainly not changed my thinking!
Hosted by Scott King, the podcast “Six Stories” is structured around crime cases. When I read the first book I’d never listened to a podcast in my life, so was completely unfamiliar with the set up and how it worked, which meant it took a while to get the gist of things, but this time round I settled in straight away and felt completely at home.
This time, the case King is looking into is the “Macleod Massacre” where in 2004 at 21 years of age, Arla Macleod brutally murdered her mum, younger sister and stepfather with a hammer. There was never a doubt that Arla committed the act, but many questions were, and are left unanswered; What actually made Arla do it? Why did she change so quickly leading up to the event? With a verdict of diminished responsibility, was she really mentally unstable, and is it right that she is in a mental institution and not prison? With the six podcasts we learn more about the type of person Arla was by the people who knew her best. Obviously these accounts aren’t always the most reliable and it’s up to you, along with King to pick apart the events leading up to the murder and decide what is correct and which is the true account of Arla.
Arla’s story is a complex one; showing how difficult it can be in your teenage years when you are someone who doesn’t quite fit in with what society calls the norm. Arla has a big obsession with the goth singer Skexxix, the clothes she wears, the make up she wears and the clothes all make her a little different. From the very start there’s a coldness to Arla’s story and with her sightings of the black-eyed children and her fascination with deadly Japanese games and rituals it will certainly cause a real chill when reading, and in my case not wanting to turn my light off to sleep!
Wesolowski is so skilful at what he does – he reels you completely into a case and you end up forgetting it’s a work of fiction. The way the book is structured is why it feels so real; news reports are included, Arla’s recordings to her psychologist are there which gives you a look into her state of mind, and when hearing from those who knew her in the podcasts, they all have a clear and individual voice due to the clear language and accents used. The writing is very atmospheric and the podcasts slowly unravel more twists, turns and revelations, with once again Wesolowski throwing in a final shocker of a moment…
There are some tough subjects tackled in this book; bullying, mental heath, online trolling, abuse, manipulation. Effects of not feeling wanted and being made to feel worthless… all these and more, are dealt with a clear understanding and a sensitive nature.
You’d think it would be difficult to sympathise with a character like Arla, and don’t get me wrong it is, but by the end of this book you realise it’s actually a rather sad and tragic story, more could of certainly been done and that definitely gave me a small air of sympathy towards her.
Hydra is another fresh, dark and unique book from this talented author. I love what he does and hope he continues with these “Six Stories” books. If, like me, you love real life crime documentaries, then this book will certainly appeal to you. Blending supernatural and reality together, leaving you unsure what is real…
About the author
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller Six Stories was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.
Thank you or taking the time to read my review. There are still many more wonderful bloggers stopping by and sharing their thoughts on the tour, so please do check them out.