WARNING: THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
‘The Murders of Molly Southbourne’ is a weird, dark, but gripping story. It horror story with a firm set of rules that it sticks to throughout. The story is relatively simple, it is about a girl, Molly Southbourne, who grows up on a farm before going off to university. However, she and her parents live (and indeed die) with the ever present issue of that every time Molly bleeds, a few days later a copy of her turns up and tries to murder her. The premise of the story is very out of the box, but it works extremely well by avoiding doing what so many horror stories end up trying to, explaining everything. Throughout the book Molly begins to formulate theories, and late on there is even a very heavy implication of what could have caused this unique blood disorder, but by the end, that is a question that is still unanswered.
I really liked the book and was not left in any way disappointed by the lack of full explanation before the story ended. The character of Molly was deep and relatable, even with her being so highly intelligent and socially awkward due to her upbringing of being home-schooled. Her relationship with “the mollies” is ever changing and completely understandable, dancing between curious about them and inconvenienced.
The main idea which drives ‘The Murders of Molly Southbourne’ is very skilfully executed, and I was really drawn in by it. Yes, there are obvious plot holes and serious questions that arise when you think deeply about it, but the book does very well of just leaving these alone and focusing on the story rather than explaining itself. With stories such as these there needs to be a clear set of rules and it needs to stick to those rules in order to work. Tade Thompson does this masterfully throughout. At no point was I left scratching my head or having to re-read parts to understand what was going on. Even better than that was the lack of a “twist” which so many horror stories feel the need to include, where the established rules are broken in order to get a cheap shock.
I call this book a horror story because for me that is the closest I think it fits into any genre. However, I think it was just darker than out and out scary. At no point did I truly fear for the main protagonist, Molly (although that was mostly due to the framing of the story). Yet, whereas I did foresee how it would end for her parents, I was still moved by their demise. The relationships within the family were very well done, subtle and not overplayed, and it was due to the letters sent by her father after Molly moved to university which really allowed that emotional connection.
Overall I was greatly surprised by how much I enjoyed ‘The Murders of Molly Southbourne’. By no means was it the perfect book, or even a 5-star masterpiece, but for what it was it was very well done and has left me eagerly anticipating the rumoured sequel.