A family massacre
A deluded murderess
Which one is true?
One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather 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 key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as 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 kids, whose presence seems to extend 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.
Hydra was published on the 24th December 2017 by Orenda Books. Many thanks to Orenda Books for having me on the blog tour and providing me with my copy of the book for this review.
It is no secret that I loved Matt Wesolowski’s first book, Six Stories which was a memorable read due to its approach in telling the overall story, told from six different points of views via podcasts. As such, I was really excited when starting Hydra, but I’ll admit I was also a little cautious as to whether the approach would work again….I need not have worried, this formula for Wesolowski is definitely not a one hit wonder!
The Hydra podcasts are focusing on the murder of the McLeod family a few years prior which daughter and sister, Arla has been convicted of. Arla is currently being held in a mental health institution following her actions. Arla has chosen to speak with Scott King to give her side of events, she has not and will not speak with anyone else which pulls Scott into an extremely complex investigation. At first I did wonder where this narrative was going to go considering the verdict however the reader is soon pulled into Arla’s world whilst Scott King attempts to unravel what happened and why on that fateful night through Arla and 5 other interviewees.
Six Stories is a fantastic read but Hydra has raised the bar (didn’t think that’d be possible!) by being as disturbing and creepy as hell!! (Caution: read alone at night at your peril!). The underlying narrative of the black eyed children is terrifying and really emphasises Arla’s state of mind and the fear she experiences.
The structure and complexity of this book is pure brilliance – the matter of fact approach to relaying events of a cold crime which allows the podcast listeners (and therefore the reader) to draw their own conclusions is fabulous.
This is one of those books that I keep thinking about – those black-eyed children and the urban legends that feature are both intriguing and chilling. I can not recommend this and Six Stories enough, so much so that I hope Scott King has many more ‘Six Stories’ to tell.
Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. 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, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio..