I am thrilled to bits to be able to share my thoughts with you on Hydra by Matt Wesolowski on my stop for the blog tour. Many thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the tour and my review copy!
Author : Matt Wesolowski
Title : Hydra
Pages : 320
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : January 15, 2018
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 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 Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.
Oh … my … word! My brain can’t compute this level of awesomeness! How do you even review something like this?!
When I started reading Six Stories last year, it only took a few pages to make me realise I had something rather extraordinary in my hands and I had no doubt the book would end up in my Top 5 list of the year. So Hydra was one of my most anticipated books of this year and, rather unfairly perhaps to the author, my expectations were somewhere near the end of our solar system. However, I’m guessing you can already tell I absolutely loved it and I am utterly convinced this book too will be in my list of books of the year by December.
When I read Six Stories, I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of podcasts and I thought it would throw me off. It didn’t but upon reading this one, I felt even more comfortable with the concept and the way the story is presented. You may think, but well, it was original and unique at first but it’s been done now. Believe me, it’s every bit as refreshing and fantastic. Dare I say, it’s even better! This story will hook you from the first page and not let go. By the end, I felt utterly wiped out and unable to string sentences together.
In Hydra, Scott King sets out to investigate the “Macleod Massacre”. Back in 2004, Arla Macleod murdered her stepfather, mother and younger sister. There was never any doubt Arla was the killer but as the murders were completely unprovoked, what lead her to do these atrocious acts? Was her responsibility as diminished as her legal team made it out to be? Should she be held in a mental institution, a place many feel is not the right punishment for her, or should she have been in prison? Scott King is determined to find out the truth behind these acts but when he is targeted by a relentless online troll, will he admit defeat and let the story go?
What I love about these stories, is that I know it’s fiction and yet it feels so incredibly real that I’m left reeling as much as I would be if I’d been watching a true crime documentary. There’s no end to the level of suspense and creepiness. At times I took a little break after a podcast, desperately in need of a little breather while also checking to see my doors and windows were locked. Arla’s story is utterly disturbing and harrowing. Between her interview with Scott and the tapes she records for her psychiatrist, my heart just broke for her. Throw in the presence of the Black-Eyed Children and I didn’t sleep for days.
I’m still lost for words, to be honest. I could mention things like compelling, addictive, engrossing, gripping and they’re all true but none really accurately convey the sheer brilliance and genius that is Matt Wesolowski and his latest offering. It’s just impeccable, an incredibly crafted masterpiece, a true gem which stands out effortlessly. I feel incredibly proud and honoured to have Hydra sitting comfortably on my bookshelf. While I’m not entirely sure my review does it any justice, I do hope it will convince you to pick up a copy. All that’s left for me to say is, please can I have some more, sir.
Hydra is available in ebook format. The UK paperback release is set for January 15th.
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.