Book Review: How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

I am lucky enough to be sent loads of advance review copies of books to read – often unsolicited from publishers. But when I heard that Bella Mackie had written her first fiction book, I actively sought out a copy on NetGalley! I love Bella’s writing style (and podcasting and Instagram styles) and so was keen to see what her foray into non non-fiction would be like.

Here’s the blurb:

I have killed several people (some brutally, others calmly) and yet I currently languish in jail for a murder I did not commit.
When I think about what I actually did, I feel somewhat sad that nobody will ever know about the complex operation that I undertook. Getting away with it is highly preferable, of course, but perhaps when I’m long gone, someone will open an old safe and find this confession. The public would reel. After all, almost nobody else in the world can possibly understand how someone, by the tender age of 28, can have calmly killed six members of her family. And then happily got on with the rest of her life, never to regret a thing.
A wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder.
Outrageously funny, compulsive and subversive, perfect for fans of Killing Eve and My Sister, the Serial Killer.

I really enjoyed this book from the start. It’s dark and funny and brilliantly observed – just as I expected it to be based on Bella’s previous output.

It’s written from the point of view of Grace Bernard who is in prison for a murder she didn’t commit. However, there have been plenty of murders she did commit that she escaped justice for – and she decides to use the time in prison to write her memoir. The book flits between the present day in prison back to Grace’s childhood and then through the various murders. Grace is clearly a really dark character – capable of multiple murders – but despite that, you still really like her and are rooting for her! It did remind me of the TV series ‘Killing Eve’ and the film ‘Promising Young Woman’ in that way.

The descriptions of the murders are like mini films in their own right (perfect episodes of a TV series should any TV execs be reading this?!) and each setting is really well written and evokes the relevant atmosphere, be that the Costa del Sol / marshlands / Monaco / seedy sex clubs – it’s nothing if not varied. (I should point out I have no actual experience of seedy sex clubs when making this comment!)

Whilst I am no way claiming that Bella herself could be a serial killer – there are definitely elements of Grace that remind me of Bella, such as helping her mental health with running (although no mention of pausing her runs for window and door photos?) and a love of beautiful accessories.

The observations of different ‘types’ of people are spot on – be they the do gooder virtual signalling posh woman, to the business tycoon and his ‘new money’ family, to the petty criminal cell mate, to the braces wearing barrister – you will DEFINITELY recognise people you know (or have read about in celebrity magazines). It’s so clever and slick and sharp and bitchy – but in a fabulous way.

Now you know this book isn’t going to have a saccharine sweet fairy tale ending, with everyone living happily ever after – but I did not expect the massive twists of the last few chapters – it was brilliant and perfect for the book. I was actually really sad to finish the book – which is always the sign of a good read I guess.

‘How To Kill Your Family’ is out in July 2021 and I would highly recommend you pre order it now!

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Fiction for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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