BOOK REVIEW: OTTESSA MOSHFEGH – DEATH IN HER HANDS

Today, I am back with another review of a brilliant new book by Ottessa Moshfegh, Death In Her Hands.

Today, I am very excited to talk about a new novel from one of my favourite authors, Ottessa Moshfegh and her new novel, Death In Her Hands. But first, what is it about exactly? Here is a synopsis:

While on her daily walk with her dog in the nearby woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with stones. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body. 

Shaky even on her best days, she is also alone, and new to this area, having moved here from her long-time home after the death of her husband, and now deeply alarmed. Her brooding about the note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession, as she explores multiple theories about who Magda was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But is there either a more innocent explanation for all this, or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home?

In this razor-sharp, chilling, and darkly hilarious novel, we must decide whether the stories we tell ourselves guide us closer to the truth or keep us further from it.

I have fallen in love with Ottessa Moshfegh and her writing over the last couple of months and she has quickly became one of my favourite authors. I loved My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Homesick For Another World and Eileen is one of my all-time favourite novels and I still haven’t read McGlue but it’s on my list(!) and I really enjoyed this new novel, Death In Her Hands.

I’ve seen a lot of mixed/negative reviews about this book in the press but I really enjoyed it! I loved how similar but also different it is to her previous work: a lonely, isolated figure with an air of mystery and ambiguity around the book and character/s. For me, this was a slow, absorbing, gripping, moody, atmospheric mystery. A perfect read as the nights get colder and darker…

Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.

I also enjoyed the first-person perspective of Vesta, our main protagonist as she finds the note about Magda in the woods and then goes on to try and work out the mystery of what happened to Magda. Almost like a monologue, which I enjoyed. I love how Moshfegh writes her characters, there is just something that she manages to get just right and make them sing. They are unreliable, flawed, characters on the margins, full of secrets and so much more.

I really felt that I was in the novel as the atmosphere was described beautifully, just like her other work. There is one particular passage that is so beautiful about the stars in the sky that I just read over and over again. Is this my favourite Ottessa Moshfegh book? No, but it’s one that I still really enjoyed and loved reading something new from her. I think this will be a marmite of a book, some people would love it, some would hate it, but for me, it’s a book that I really enjoyed and she is a brilliant writer – a true master of her craft. A perfect book for the colder nights and I, for one, can’t wait to see what she writes next.

You can read my review for Homesick for Another World here, my review for My Year of Rest & Relaxation, here, and my review of Eileen, here.

Have you read Death In Her Hands? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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