Cover Image: How to Kill Your Family

How to Kill Your Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

“His willingness to punish a girl for not immediately embracing a photo of his penis was chilling, and I say that as someone who has killed five people” 

Meet Grace Bernard: millennial, fashionista, serial killer. Truly, there's unlikeable narrators and there's Grace Bernard. How To Kill Your Family is her story, a tale of multiple murders, told as she languishes in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. How To Kill Your Family is presented as Grace’s diary of sorts, flitting between past murders and present monotony. Over the course of this novel, we hear the intimate details of each slaying, as well as Grace’s reasoning behind each of them. This reasoning is primarily linked to Simon Artermis, multi-millionaire and Grace’s estranged father. Grace, who grew up in poverty before being orphaned, is on a quest for revenge as well as her inheritance. And to claim that inheritance, she has to take down a few family members. 

If that sounds like a lot? It is. We have a bunch of murders re-told with a phenomenal amount of detail and snark, because Grace Bernard is kind of a dick. A dick about the super-rich who have wronged her, yes, but a dick all the same. I found her immensely frustrating as a character, all hard edges that don’t really allow the reader to get anything more than a surface level engagement with her. Maybe that’s the fact that she’s a god damned sociopath, though. 

The murders themselves are the high points of the slightly overlong narrative, and Grace comes up with some incredibly inventive ways to pick people off without being caught. Some of them are funny in the blackest way possible, some of them will haunt me forever. Most chilling was the murder of her stepmother Janine - I won’t give it away but it is genuinely blood-curdling. The murders are presented as almost episodic, and so the in-between times of Grace’s scheming can get a little tedious. This eases off as the overarching plot comes into play, in fairness to Mackie, but it takes a little too long to get there.  

I’ve seen How To Kill Your Family marketed as a sharp exploration of wealth divides in the UK, but I am not sure how much new thought Mackie is bringing to the table here. It’s pretty rote “rich people bad” rhetoric, which isn’t new to many of us. Maybe it’ll be groundbreaking to some readers, but as someone with a healthy distrust of the wealthy I didn’t learn much at all. The rich people are cartoonishly evil, fond of embracing their basest desires and little else. I wanted Mackie to push this wealth divide further and give us something new within the narrative, so this exploration left me a little cold. 

Overall, How To Kill Your Family is a black-as-coal comedy with some biting social commentary, but it fell a little short for me. I couldn’t connect with Grace and given that we spend the entire novel inside her head, it made it difficult to get through. If you enjoy social commentary, unreliable and messed-up narrators, and, well, murder, you’ll love this, though.
Was this review helpful?
If you enjoyed 'The Silent Patient', you will love How to Kill Your Family. 
Bella Mackie writes a dark and twisted murder mystery, but in reverse. We know how the killer is right out of the gate, Grace Bernard.
Grace is on a revenge mission, taking out every one of her estranged upper class family to settle a score and inherit the family wealth. 
But there is another catch, Grace is currently in prison, but not for the reason you might think.
How to Kill your family is a great read filled with dark humour, twists and turns.
Was this review helpful?
Some of the best books leave you feeling utterly bereft when you read the last page, and that’s exactly how I felt about this one. Spending a week with Grace Bernard felt exciting and thrilling, and I was really upset when it came to an abrupt end.

The story follows Grace’s plan to kill her family, for crimes committed against both her mother and herself. I didn’t find the reasoning for the vendetta totally compelling, but as the book progressed, I felt it actually didn’t matter. It was really fun following her process - doing the research, plotting the death and then carrying it out. It’s not always straightforward (it would be a dull story if it was) but it’s quite the wild ride. 

I also really loved the little insights into Grace’s societal views. They’re often added to the ends of paragraphs, and they’re caustic, witty, judgemental and completely deadpan. 

The ending broke my heart a little, but I didn’t feel like it affected my enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, I found myself racing to the end to digest all the information. 

I’ll be recommending this book to everyone who’ll listen for a long time to come. I’ll also be thinking about Grace too. What a character!
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely wonderful. Black satire, a murder mystery and topical too, just what I didn’t realise I needed. I loved it and adored our antihero and all her snippy asides. I read Jog On and loved it, but approached this warily, it is after all a big change from non fiction about running and mental health. But it actually makes so much sense, the running and the mental health issues are still there, but just as part of the landscape. There is a clever plot, deliciously awful characters  and sharp words about influencers and men who like comedy socks. I do hope Bella Mackie plans to write another book soon.
Was this review helpful?
I didn’t finish unfortunately. It has a dark humour but the MC is so unlikeable and I didn’t enjoy the tone in places and didn’t feel grabbed by the story.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars
This is easily one of the best books that I have read in a long time!
I absolutely loved how well written it was and the way in which Grace's story was revealed as the chapters progressed.
The idea of it being written in a confessional style was brilliant.
Plus, each of the murders were unique and somewhat unexpected, which I really enjoyed. 
This was easily a 5 star read for me until a certain character appeared (I won't say who so as to avoid spoilers) in the last 15% of the story.
Up until then I could not fault this book or the story but it changing to a different perspective, one which ultimately put a kibosh on Grace's plans/the ending I wanted for her, was a little bit frustrating.
I do get what the author was trying to do and how it all tied in but I was hoping for Grace to get her cut of the Artemis fortune and to see how she would proceed now that everyone on her list had been checked off.
But that was only a minor issue for me as the rest of it was so strong.
How To Kill Your Family is smart, witty, dark and definitely memorable.
I can't wait to read more from Bella Mackie and I will be wholeheartedly recommending this to everyone that I come across.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
So many morals are thrown out the window in this wickedly humorous fest of getting even.

Grace is a determined character whose deeds should horrify everyone, yet at times I found myself wanting to shake the woman’s hand. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting murder is acceptable under any circumstances, but her life story is a curious one and she consistently, and convincingly, shows why her ‘victims’ were selected and how she graphically dispatched them.

The narration is lively and quick-witted, focussing on a written account of Grace’s crimes which she is penning as she serves a sentence for a murder she ironically did NOT commit. There’s a ‘real-time feel’ to her recollections as she shares the details of each murder for the benefit of her readers (aka ‘us’).  

Without a doubt, she’s a memorable personality with an unforgettable ‘pastime’. It’s odd, funny, and hugely refreshing to read something a little bit different. It also a reminder that you should never take anything for granted, or underestimate those around you. 

If you have a dark sense of humour then dare I say you could find this all hugely entertaining too.
Was this review helpful?
Excellent dark comedy and cheeky, witty and confessional. Challenges perceptions and Grace pulls you in with her thoughts. 
Did find the pace a little slow on occasion but maybe that's because I was too keen to race through it.
One very interesting voice.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved this book! It was dark and intriguing, yet hilarious at the same time, I loved the characters and the plot! Fantastically written! Would definitely recommend!
Was this review helpful?
Grace Bernard's multi millionaire Father cruelly abandoned her mother when she finds out she's pregnant; years later after an unhappy childhood Grace decides there's only one course of action, to kill her family.

This dark novel was thoroughly entertaining and I couldn't help but cheer for Grace as she tries to accomplish her 'hit list'. I read it in one sitting and loved every second.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
There's no two ways about it, Grace, the protagonist of this story isn't a nice person. And yet, I still found myself really liking her as a character. She is brutally honest, incredibly vengeful and darkly comical and we as the reader get front row seats to her innermost thoughts and feelings told through her life story written while serving time in prison for a crime she, ironically, didn't actually commit. I thought the premise was fantastic and I really enjoyed reading as Grace executed her cunning plans as well as her musings on all manner of subjects including wealth, class and even influencers. The narrative is generally really sharp and clever although at times Grace's story is interrupted by the present day so at times I could understand why people found this to be a bit of a ramble. I didn't actually mind this as it felt more realistic for me personally. After all, whose thoughts are ever organised?

I'm still deciding how I feel about the ending of How to Kill Your Family. On one hand, I always enjoy a twist but on the other, I'm not sure how satisfied I feel with it, especially on behalf of Grace. But then perhaps, that is entirely the point. Either way, I"ll be crossing my finger for a sequel, if at all possible.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! What an amazingly good book this is.   So deftly written with great style and wit and I just loved it.  The main character really draws the reader into her life and her emotions so you are totally invested in the story.  I read it far too quickly but was trying to savour it at the same time as I did not want the story to end.
Was this review helpful?
Grace Bernard is in Limehouse Prison serving a sentence for a crime she didn’t commit but that doesn’t mean to say she hasn’t committed some! To relieve the boredom and the inane chatter of cell mate Kelly she decides to write her astonishing story. This tell all explains exactly what she is guilty of! This is a novel about rejection and betrayal, revenge and retribution. 

First of all, let’s deal with Grace. She’s definitely an awful person, she’s vengeful, superior, a snob and has her own very specific belief system which she doesn’t hesitate to share with us and her narrative is peppered with her judgements from the highest to the low! And yet, and yet .... I can’t help liking her and I know I shouldn’t as she’s done some truly awful things to some truly awful people. She’s very funny (it’s black humour of course) and I confess to liking her wry dark style and admiring her superb put down lines and wish I’d thought of them! What she tells you in her confession makes your jaw drop with her audacity. It’s devilishly delicious and deviously dastardly. The characterisation is extremely good and there’s a good mix of some to like, some to make your fists and teeth clench and some are so odiously unlikeable they deserve all they get. There are occasions in the narrative where you burst out laughing but it’s one of those laughs you know you shouldn’t release and so you check over your shoulder to check no one’s heard!!! The tell all journal works well although there’s a bit of repetition in some places and the occasional dip in pace. There are some good plot twists that you don’t see coming and some instances of irresistible irony. 

Overall, this is very easy to read, it’s well written, I love the darkly wry style of the author who has acquired a new fan!

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to HarperCollins, Harper Fiction, The Borough Press for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Engaging, well-written, witty; Mackie's "How to Kill Your Family" is an acute and intense exploration of family, status, class and its hypocrisies and vulgarities.
Was this review helpful?
Bella Mackie is an incredible writer. How To Kill Your Family is a dark and twisted revenge tale about a woman who plans to kill 7 members of her family. Fast forward 14 months later, she’s in prison for a crime she did not commit. The narration was on point, it explored themes of class and money, and there were so many unexpected plot twists. Although it felt like some of the murders dragged a bit, and some scenes were a bit too raw, I was really invested in the story from start to finish. Really excited to see what’s next for Mackie.
Was this review helpful?
How To Kill Your Family is a darkly comic novel about getting revenge on the family you never knew, but things not quite going to plan. Grace is a twentysomething woman who works in fashion PR and resents the estranged father she's never spoken to, wealthy self-made businessman Simon Artemis. She's also telling her story from prison, but she's not even there for the right reasons. As Grace unfolds what has happened to her and her hopes for release, it's clear trying to kill your entire family is no simple business.

As the book's concept is that Grace is writing down her story from prison, it has a classic 'unreliable narrator who gets interrupted by current events' feel, which brings suspense and also ridiculousness, especially as most of the interruptions are her despairing about her cellmate, who she finds annoying, or complaining about prison life and clothing. Grace is a purposefully unlikeable narrator: a snob, constantly making up opinions of people and judging them, and someone who was so caught up in her revenge plot that she just assumed everything else in her life would happen how she expected. This works well for the dark comedy vibe of the book, as there's always a sense she's not actually that good at murder, and has mostly been protected by luck and rich people not wanting others to look to hard into their affairs. She's not someone with a grand masterplan as much as someone out for revenge who is almost as stuck up as the people she's after.

The book tries to play around with some class stuff, from Grace's struggling upbringing, the middle class family who took her in as a teenager, and the wealth of her father and those around him, but this is also undercut by Grace's own snobbishness and the fact she's clearly painting a very specific picture so you can't actually tell if she's exaggerating things. Generally, things around class and money are more for plot reasons or comedy, like whether Grace can afford a particular thing or get time off work for her plans. There's also a few comments about the treatment of non-white servants by the Artemis family, but these are more part of Grace's own sense of social commentary than really saying anything.

How To Kill Your Family is a light read that feels like it fits in with a lot of the current pop culture moment, with a murder romp set amongst the well-off. The style of the narrative is distinctive and the concept is fun, though after a certain point it starts to get a bit repetitive, and the ending's twist fell a bit flat for me. I could really imagine it being adapted into a TV series or film, as it feels very visual from Grace's tendency to describe everything (and pass judgement on it).
Was this review helpful?
The best way I can describe How to Kill Your Family is an entertaining murder-romp. Think Killing Eve or I Care A Lot, only with a spikey, sharp tongued narrator who seeks to avenge her mother's mistreatment by bumping off her father's wealthy family. Everyone in this book, including the protagonist Grace, is deeply unpleasant and self-obsessed and while that might be an issue for some readers, it wasn't for me. While I wasn't quite cheering her on, I was compelled to see how her outlandish and complex plans would work to murder the family.

The novel is told from Grace's POV so at times her bitter outpourings can feel intense, but this is peppered with witty observations and commentary on the hypocrisies and vulgarities of everyone from the elite Monaco dwellers, to Uncanny Valley influencers, to earnest rich liberals.

This was a novel I really enjoyed picking up and going back to. There were moments where it felt a little long and slow, but overall it was a fun read.

Thank you to NetGalley and The Borough Press for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really like Bella Mackie. Her first book, Jog On, played a huge part in me taking up running. I very much enjoy her on Instagram (is that a weird thing to say?) and her ABJ mantra is something I appreciate ✨ I’m so pleased that Bella’s first foray into fiction is as brilliant as I’d hoped it would be. 
Grace is a stone cold mardy bitch, with wry observations pouring out of her, and I liked her a lot. Her story is full of dark humoured twists and turns, perfect for our generation of true crime junkies. Surely a TV adaptation is in the works? Here’s hoping!
Was this review helpful?
The highlight of this book is the narration from Grace.
Its funny,deadpan and just a little chilling,as she tells how she calmly bumped off six members of her family.
Grace is a voice I could happily listen to again and again.
The whole book is just amusing,and I got to the end and felt really satisfied at how it ended.
Hoping its a hit for Ms Mackie,and we see more to come.
Was this review helpful?
Genre: Literary Fiction 

Release Date: Expected 10th June 2021

TW:  Murder, Death, Illness, Prison, Graphic Sex. 

Grace is currently sitting in jail for a murder she didn't even commit. 

Not that she hasn't killed before, she definitely has, but she didn't do this one. For the last fourteen long months she's been amongst the criminals who were stupid enough to get caught and it has dragged. 

At 28, her body count is six - six members of her family killed in clever and untraceable ways - and nobody knows but her and her secret journal. How wonderful it is that she'd gotten away with it all, but how sad it is that nobody will ever know just why and how she got the perfect revenge. 

How To Kill Your Family is Grace's private confession, as we travel back in time to find out the reasons that she killed off her entire family and the plans that slowly fit together into the perfect revenge. Through diary entries and thoughts, we jump between the prison cell and her former life, waiting for the moment she gets to see freedom again. 

There was a strange, uncomfortable feeling the whole way through the book when you realise you're rooting for the success of a mass-murderer but the more we get to know Grace the deeper entrenched in her life we become. Jumping between outrageously hilarious highs to dark disturbing lows, this was an actual roller-coaster in paper form. 

The narration throughout felt personal, as though she was speaking straight to the reader at times but it rambled a lot - as though her train of thought was constantly getting lost and repeating herself so through these rambling sections I did lose interest a little as it felt like a large chunk of info-dumping at once - but this also gave it it's unique charm. 

How To Kill Your Family was a deeply uncomfortable yet uplifting exploration into class, status, family and love with a killer heroine and deliciously dark twists. 

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to Bella Mackie, Harper Collins UK and NetGalley for this ARC in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?