Cover Image: How to Kill Your Family

How to Kill Your Family

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Member Reviews


This is one of the most interesting books I've read this year! 
We follow the story of anti-hero Grace who tells her tale from behind bars. She is in jail for a crime she didn't commit, although she has killed many people. II absolutely adored the writing! Grace is funny, witty and the dark humour really made this an enjoyable read. As we start at the beginning, we learn about Grace's past and why she is on a quest to kill these individuals. I really enjoyed how clever she was in making sure she wasn't found out. She also had her doubt- which made her a morally grey character and I was hooked! She contemplates whether to kill her cousin who left the wealthy family, and those doubt made her seem more human. I really liked her voice and following her perspective made for a really engaging read!

This book is unlike anything else I've read before, and I can't wait to read more by Bella Mackie! Highly recommend.
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Fans of the cold, calculating and often drily funny Villanelle (of Killing Eve fame), might want to add this quirky forthcoming novel by Bella Mackie to their wishlist. How to Kill Your Family has already been tipped by Grazia and Cosmopolitan as one of their books of the summer.

There were lots of things I really liked about this book and a few things I thought didn’t work so well. I loved and got on board with Grace’s narrative voice almost immediately and found myself chuckling away at her sheer lack of conscience and her supreme confidence. Her witty commentary on the modern world and the people in it was just brilliant. The dual timeline really helped to propel the story along and, through this, I became thoroughly invested in her plight.

Though the writing is a little clunky in places, it didn’t affect my enjoyment too much, but I did think it felt somehow a little too long and if it had been 50 pages lighter my personal preference for a slightly more pacy read might have been satisfied. I also had a few issues with the characterisation towards the end of the book…

With thanks to The Borough Press for gifting me a digital copy to review.
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This is an incredible read. Original, clever, gripping and  pacey with a twist that could not be forseen. Beside the brilliant storyline I loved the authors writing style. It spoke to you with some fabulous cryptic comments which gave it a very witty edge. Her observations of society and people were very acute. I will definitely want more from this author.
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I was really looking forward to this as the synopsis sounded brilliant and to be fair the overall story was brilliant, my only issue with it was it was slightly too long and many parts really felt like they dragged - to the point where I skim read to get to the bit where she actually killed them. 

This wasn't the issue with each killing though. I absolutely loved the parts during the sex clubs, I thought this was a fantastic chapter and I only wish the others were as engaging as this. The parts with Byrony were also great as I really liked how the author explored the world of 'influencers'. 

I cannot fault the authors writing though, the character of Grace was so well written and the narrative was at times hilarious. Grace has a dry sense of humour and some of the things she comes out with made me laugh out loud and were spot on with what many of us would think in that situation. 

The twist near the end was ok but did feel a bit convenient and I think I would have liked it to end a different way.

Overall though I loved the character of Grace, she was so witty and funny. There were definitely some stand out chapters and I think if it had been just a little shorter in places (it often felt like a lot of needless information at times) then I would have loved it. In the end it was just ok but not one I would be rushing out to buy.
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I had no idea that Bella Mackie was publishing a novel but as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew that I had to give it a shot. I was so excited to be accepted for it on NetGalley and it didn’t disappoint.

Grace Bernard is a product of Simon Artemis’ extra-marital affair with French model Marie Bernard but her father has never acknowledged her, despite being fully aware of her existence. Despite the Artemises enormous wealth, Simon rejected Marie’s requests for help, so it’s now down to an adult Grace to avenge her mother by destroying Simon. Of course, the best way to do this is to gradually pick off the other Artemises before killing Simon himself. So, it’s a shame really that Grace gets jailed for a death that she isn’t actually responsible for.

Grace is an incredibly determined, confident and witty character. She has a lot of charisma and therefore despite her gruesome plans, she is very likeable. I like to think that had I had a similar background to hers, I’d have the balls that she does to fight back against the world. She is only 28 but she is very wise to the ways of the world, which I guess is thanks to the fact that she has largely had to fend for herself for the last decade.

'He took up other people's space -women were pushed out to the margins, only featured as beautiful props for Simon Artemis.' 

With descriptions like this, it’s not too hard to see why it’s easy to get on board with Grace’s mission to annihilate Simon. We all know that these men exist in the very upper echelons of society and many of us would love to see them receive their comeuppance. Since the phenomenon that was #MeToo, I think we know how rife misogyny, abuse and games of power are amongst the social elite. Any efforts, no matter how dark or deliciously evil, to stop or punish this is always welcome news.

Grace is laugh-out-loud funny in the darkest of ways. Her tongue is razor sharp and there were several times where I physically screwed my face up at the black humour that she spouted. She reminded me of both Villanelle from Killing Eve and Rhiannon from C.J. Skuse’s Sweetpea trilogy. Mackie has definitely nailed the uncomfortably relatable serial killer vibe with Grace.

Grace’s cellmate Kelly is a chatty woman, who I felt a little uneasy about from the start. The very end reveals a twist involving Kelly that I didn’t see coming but it did confirm my suspicions about her. Grace sees her as nothing but an incessant nuisance and it’s here where Grace reveals herself to be not quite as good as reading people as she first appeared to be. Perhaps this is a lesson that we shouldn’t take anyone at face value. You never know who could be harbouring a hidden agenda or who could have secret virtues.

Grace’s relationship with her long-time best friend Jimmy is somehow both complex and incredibly simple. It is obvious that she have a very clear, deep love for each other but the nature of this love is blurred and I wasn’t quite sure whether Grace saw him in a romantic light or not. At times, it felt like she wanted to end up with him but a lot of the time, it felt like their relationship was sibling-like. I often felt that Grace took him for granted too and I worried that the balance between genuine appreciation and unconditional loyalty wasn’t quite right between them. It was a very strange relationship to watch actually because I didn’t really know what I wanted to happen between them. 

In her quest to eliminate all of the Artemises, Grace enlists the help of a teenage hacker who she meets on the internet to infiltrate and corrupt the smart home in Monaco where Simon’s wife Janine lives. Posing as a teenage girl herself, Grace builds a connection with this boy who starts getting a little too flirty with her. As soon as Grace rejects him, he gets angry and stops speaking to her. This whole interaction is clearly a commentary on what it’s like to be a young woman on the internet. I think it’s really clever how Mackie manages to weave these nuggets of real life into the story. I know that so many women will immediately recognise their own experiences in this part of the book and perhaps create an even stronger bond with Grace as a result.

Of course, by the end of the book, we haven’t seen any evidence that Simon deserves to still be alive. Much like many other members of his family, he is ignorant, unfaithful and emotionally vapid with too much money but not enough kindness or conscience. We’re fully on Grace’s wavelength when it comes to his demise. I was expecting something very elaborate and deliciously gruesome (as I think Grace was too) to bring this about but actually what we got was an ending that was actually reasonably mellow. I think some readers might question why Mackie didn’t go for the big bloody climax but in some ways, I think ending the spree on a quiet note is a nod to Grace finally gaining some peace of mind. Sadly, things still don’t quite work out as Grace intended but she has completed the majority of her mission. 

Grace even takes the time to reflect on her mistakes and how she can move on without the huge wedge of hate in her heart. The deaths of the Artemis family mean that she can now live the rest of her life without the weight of it driving her to anger and revenge. I like to think that there is hope for Grace to become rich in the best ways (through building real, loving relationships) and to learn how to live happily.

How To Kill Your Family is a very sharp, witty and satisfying read. Grace is a heroine with incredibly complex morals but it’s clear where they come from. It’s a story about trying to claim what is rightfully yours, bringing karma around to the people it needs to hit and learning what the real ingredients for happiness really are.
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I liked this! It was dark and funny and the cultural reference points were spot on. I really wanted Grace to succeed in all her murders. She was an engaging and fascinating character.
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Adored this. Adore Bella. Can't wait to handbell this to our customers. It'll be big. Very unique and really kept me up past bedtime reading it!
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How to Kill Your Family is a part thriller, part dark comedy story about a girl in prison plotting to kill her family. Although she isn't in prison for the reasons you might think. If you enjoyed My Sister The Serial Killer, this is the one for you! The writing is gripping and it's intriguing hearing the story from the perspective of the killer as she plots the murder. The themes of wealth and class are very present as well. If you enjoy dark satirical thrillers, be sure to check out How to Kill Your Family today.
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We’ve all had those moments when we’d quite happily throttle our nearest and dearest, right? But they’re moments, brief passings of fury that dissipate as quickly as they arrive. But not for Grace. She’s hell bent on wiping out her parts of her family. She plans, she infiltrates before carrying out her dastardly plan. And her plans are extreme but executed perfectly.

The way Mackie splits the story between Grace’s incarceration and how she proceeds to eliminate those members of her family is entertaining. Then dropped in sporadically are snippets of Grace’s childhood and teen years – these are heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time as Grace goes through more in her formative years than most do in their first 30! I really took to Grace despite her intentions. She’s a focused young woman and is determined to complete her mission. She’s thorough in her planning and execution, her dedication to her own cause admirable.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mackie’s debut novel. Her writing flows smoothly between past and present. This isn’t a regular crime novel; it’s kind of a cross genre kind of book. If you’ve read Jog On, you’ll be in for a surprise; this (unsurprisingly) is nothing like Mackie’s first foray as a published author. Mackie inserts a bucket load of dark humour into the story of real vengeance. I really hope this is the start of some dark and twisted novels from Mackie’s keyboard.
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Thank you so much to Harper Collins UK  for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

The premise of this book immediatley had me drawn in and i was hoping for a dark tale with a lot of twisted humour thrown in and thats exactly what i got. 

The book follows Grace an illgetimate child born to her foreign and vulnerable mother and fathered by a wealthy businessman. Turns out that businessman had a family and wife of his own and after learning that Graces mother is pregnant who soon leaves them high and dry. Graces mother does her best to raise her alone but after she dies Grace is somewhat left to her own devices. She decides to take revenge on her fathers family to ultimately inherit his fortune after they are all dead. This plan takes many years to come to fruition as Grace plans to make every death look like an accident and something that cannot be linked back to her.

We learn from very early on that Grace is currently in prison at the beginning of the book so the book is told in a dual timeline of present day prison and slowly finding out what Grace is in there for and past tense of Grace carrying out her plans to murder her fathers extended family. 

The humour had me laughing out loud, Grace is very dry witted and i really appreciated that. I really enjoyed the ending but wanted an epilogue of Graces reaction to it and maybe a 1 year later of what she was doing now. All in all a really great read!
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How to kill your family tells the story  of Grace. We know that she has killed several members of her family but she is in jail for a murder she did not commit. Grace explains to the reader why she is so set on killing her family and gives us a description of each of the deaths. 

I found the writing style of this book very engaging from the beginning. Bella Mackie does a great job at getting you to route for a character who is doing terrible things, and Grace is very unapologetic for the way she is. 

I did wonder how this book was going to come together at the end as you know the basic outcome from the very beginning. I needn't have worried as the ending still managed to take me by surprise.
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This was a really good fiction debut for Bella Mackie. I have been looking forward to reading this, having read her book Jog on and lots of articles that she has written. Grace is a great character and the book is laced with dark humour. My only qualm was that the pace in parts felt a little slow and some parts felt a little repetitive so overall it could have been a little shorter. A good read overall - and I hope to read more Bella Mackie books in the future
Thank you for the review copy!
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Do you like a good-old-fashioned revenge story? Then you’re going to love How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie. An absolutely wild ride, this story is a darkly funny, witty, deadpan take on what would happen if you let your darkest desires take charge and killed the family that had abandoned you…

24-year-old Grace Bernard is our narrator. She grew up in a small flat with her mother who struggled to make ends meet. Their situation was compounded by the fact that Grace’s father, Simon Artemis, is a multi-millionaire but refuses to have anything to do with Grace and her mother as is married and has another family.

He is also happens to be a morally dubious, self-centred person so, when her mother dies, Grace decides its time to avenge her – by killing her father and all his significant others…

When we meet her she is in prison, but significantly:

'The justice system in this country is a joke, and there is nothing which illustrates that more than this one sentence: I have killed several people (some brutally, others calmly) and yet I currently languish in jail for a murder I did not commit.'

I must stress here the deadpan, hilarious nature to the tone of How to Kill Your Family. It’s an absolute abandon reality and go with it vibe. In a variety of ingenious ways (from a frog sanctuary to a Big Brother style remote CCTV system via a sex club), Grace does indeed proceed to kill her family in a truly entertaining way.

I totally enjoyed this – the plot was different to any I’ve read recently, there were moments of page-turning tension scattered throughout and any book that makes you feel like you’d love to go for a drink with a lead character who, despite her worrying bloodlust, feels intelligent, complex and fully formed (if, yes, psychopathic – they are notoriously charming, after all…) A great testament to clever writing and strong character development. Definitely add this to your TBR!
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I really enjoyed this for the most part but it was a bit too long and the ending infuriated me, it felt like it had been tacked on in order to be reactionary.
The overall premise is fantastic, I love the fact that she is imprisoned for something she didn't actually do whilst blithely getting away with murder. But she's immensely unlikeable and self absorbed, which frustrated me, I'd have liked to have had more sympathy for her.
Definitely an interesting one for book clubs.
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**Listened to the audio book and read along to the kindle version**

I really like Bella Mackie's writing, and I enjoyed her first book - non fiction - all about the joy of running and how it changed her life. So when i found out she was releasing a fiction book I was super excited.
However, I was left disappointed by this. I'm a big fan of CJ Skuse's Sweetpea books, and this book just reminded me of that. It had similar plot, and had the same dry sense of humour (but no where near as funny as Sweetpea) 
The opening chapters of this book were really intriguing and definitely got me interested from the beginning - but overall the plot was very slow paced and I lost interest by the end. It was as gripping as I had hoped.

I liked the narrators of the audio book, they helped to bring it to life. We spend more time with the female narrator - and I did prefer her. 

Overall this book was a real let down. I definitely would read what Bella Mackie does next - I just hope it's a bit more gripping, and a bit more original than this book.
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I’ve been lucky enough to read some really gripping crime novels this year, and ‘How to Kill your Family’ is another great read. In this darkly sarcastic novel, the serial killer tells you all about their inventive killing spree as though you’re their best friend, and their chatty narrative makes you forget that there’s anything wrong with what the anti-hero is doing at times. There is a huge amount of black humour, and the protagonist is wickedly persuasive in her justification of her evil deeds to the extent that you do find yourself championing her cause in places.

There’s a big twist at the end which I’m not convinced that I liked as much as the rest of the novel, but it was needed to prevent a very predictable ending. This is a new type of crime thriller and the cheeky little narrator is a refreshing voice for the genre. I think that this will charm readers of YA and crime alike.
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For a book about a woman who murders six people, How to Kill Your Family is surprisingly... Bloodless. It's a vague, flimsy thing which relies heavily on millennial stereotypes (heck, stereotypes full stop) and the slightly juvenile writing style does it few favours, either. 

Mackie can't seem to decide whether protagonist Grace is a snobbish, bratty psychopath or a brave class warrior, and that's what makes her so, well, vague - all we know for sure is that she's pretty awful. The murders feel entirely distinct from one another, giving the overall feel of a bunch of short stories tacked together; it's disjointed and clumsy.  The denouement is slightly more satisfying but the newcomer who suddenly pops up to deliver it is waif-like and thinly drawn - introducing a new voice at the very end of a tale to tie up loose ends neatly feels like something of a cop-out. 

I was hoping for something along the lines of CJ Skuse's brilliant Rhiannon character from her Sweet Pea books - instead we're presented with a sort of cut price Fleabag with a talent contest tearjerker backstory and murderous intent. Which sounds a lot more interesting in theory than in reality, sadly.

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was amazing! I had high hopes going into it as I'm a fan of Bella Mackie and it really didn't disappoint. Fantastic writing and story - I really liked the main character Grace.  I really have no complaints. Absolutely recommend this is if the description appeals to you.
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WOW! This is most definitely a 5⭐️ read for me!  This book is so fantastically and intelligently written that I found myself laughing out loud, agreeing with many of the main characters' observations about society that I couldn't help but love Grace. Grace is the protagonist in this book, who is serving time in prison and telling her story of her revengeful killing of her uber rich, capitalist, hedonistic family members.  

The societal/millennial observations are spot on and her dark, sarcastic humour makes this book an absolute page turner until the very last page.  I LOVED it!
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Grace has had a rubbish life. She was dealt some tough cards and felt she was owed some juicy revenge. So she took it in an interesting and twisted way. Things don't go exactly to plan however and she ends up in jail for something she didn't do. This was written in the first person and was chatty and easy to read. I found it quite humorous in places and enjoyed the ending. Well worth a read.
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