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The Murders of Molly Southbourne Paperback – October 3, 2017
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"The Murders of Molly Southbourne is so strange and well-written and well-conceived. I read it in one sitting and yet it follows me around wherever I go. I loved it." ―Paul Tremblay, author of Disappearance at Devil's Rock
"A bold outpouring of flesh and crisis at once horrifying and familiar." ―The New York Times
"Inventive, chilling, and professionally rendered." ―Elizabeth Bear, author of Karen Memory
"This premise fleshes out the strangeness and the grace of the human condition as well as anything I've read." ―Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels and Mapping the Interior
"Tade Thompson's writing is as inexorable as a march to the executioner's block, layered with cold dread and an exquisite understanding of body horror." ―Cassandra Khaw, author of the Persons Non Grata series
"The Murders of Molly Southbourne is bloody, quiet, haunting, and sharp―a book worth savoring." ―Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence
"This bloody exploration of identity and self in a changed world will stay with readers long after they finish the last page." ―Publishers Weekly
"A bloody, intriguing puzzle of a novella." ―Kirkus
"An enormously vivid, enormously peculiar novel... compellingly written." ―Locus
"Excellent, bloody, unsettling." ―The Book Smugglers
"The Murders of Molly Southbourne reaches deep into the heart of existence and drags our fears into the sunlight. An excellent, terrifying read." ―Fran Wilde, award-winning author of Updraft, Cloudbound, and Horizon
"Tade Thompson weaves a subtle, surreal tale of life, death, love and damnation around an absolutely unforgettable heroine. Molly will terrify you, even as she breaks your heart." ―Stephanie Saulter, author of the (R)Evolution books
"By turns disturbing, fascinating and heartbreaking, and mesmerizing from first to last." ―Simon Bestwick, author of the Black Road series and The Feast Of All Souls
“Viciously real. Chillingly absurd. There's a visceral, bloody logic to Tade Thompson’s tale of self murder.” ―Jon Courtenay Grimwood, author of The Fallen Blade
"A story to make your skin crawl and your veins feel full of dark secrets." ―Sophia McDougall, author of the Romanitas trilogy, Mars Evacuees and Space Hostages
“A darkly compelling, offbeat tale punctuated by memorable characters and an endlessly fascinating mystery. The dark imagination of Tade Thompson is a wondrous thing to behold.” ―Maurice Broaddus, author of Buffalo Soldier
“A novella that showcases the emotional depth of this writer, Tade Thompson’s The Murders of Molly Southbourne is utterly compelling, dark and disturbing.” ―Kaaron Warren, author of Slights
About the Author
TADE THOMPSON lives and works in the south of England. His background is in medicine, psychiatry and social anthropology. His first novel Making Wolf won the Golden Tentacle Award at the 2016 Kitschies. His second novel Rosewater is a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award and is on the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List, and his short story The Apologists has been shortlisted for a British Science Fiction Association award. He enjoys jazz, comics, and baking deformed bread.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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It's a fresh and bizarre concept played wonderfully straight by Tade Thompson, who delivers a smattering of scares and genuine creepiness alongside some soft sci-fi mojo in the book's latter half. But what really impressed me was the character of Molly herself.
Molly is a psychologically complex figure, and she left me thinking a lot about nature versus nurture. Because of her condition and the pseudo hemophiliac-like countermeasures of her life (furniture with no corners, for instance), as well as the rules she must live by (If you see yourself, run. Don't bleed. Blot, burn, bleach.), I couldn't help but wonder how much of Molly's behavior and quirks was a direct result of her odd condition and the fashion in which her parents were forced to nurture her, and how much was her natural state simply being given an outlet. Having to confront her evil twins on a routine basis, she is allowed to explore certain dark impulses that she might have otherwise repressed. Although Thompson doesn't delve deeply into such an exploration, it's still leaves me curious, and the mannerisms of several of the other mollys leaves it as a nagging question, a sort of mental puzzle box to explore without authorial hand-holding.
Equally impressive was the writing itself. Thompson runs a tight ship and infuses this novella with a startling amount of depth in such a short span of time, yet keeps the story moving fast. He pulls off character development and spectacle with equal aplomb, accomplishing so much with both in so few pages. This book is expert-level stuff all the way through. Although I have a few questions, and plenty of suspicions, about Molly, the biggest question is how the hell haven't I heard of Tade Thompson before, and how quickly can I buy more of his work?
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
Molly Southbourne's parents teach her four very important rules:
"If you see yourself, run.
Blot, burn, bleach.
Find a hole, find your parents."
Sorry, but that's about all you're getting from me about The Murders of Molly Southbourne. If I tell you any more than what you read in the book's blurb I'm going to spoil the story for you.
This novella is a quick read and I needed to keep reading to find out how it was all going to be resolved. There's a nice twist and potential for another book. I'm usually a fan of endings that don't form question marks above my head but for Molly I really feel the ambiguity of what happens after the final sentence works in its favour. Having said that, should there be another Molly/molly book I would be interested.
Despite rule #2, there is a fair bit of bloodshed in this book so if you've got a case of haemophobia and an overactive imagination, buyer beware. It's in context with the storyline and I didn't feel it was gratuitous at all.
There was one section that really annoyed me because it didn't feel like it belonged in or added any value to the story. ⚠️ SPOILER ALERT: [I didn't see why there had to be a threesome with Molly, the professor and a molly. Call me a prude if you want but I just don't see why you'd be interested in having sex with your doppelgänger and if for some reason you were, why you would when you know you're going to kill them in a few hours time.] ⚠️
The Murders of Molly Southbourne is a story that works perfectly for its novella length.
Whenever Molly bleeds, a copy of herself is created. The Mollies may be friendly at first, but within a few days, they’ll inevitably turn vicious and try to kill the original. On the isolated farm where Molly lives with her parents, they’ve been preparing her for a life of constant danger. If she wants to live, she’ll have to spend her whole life killing girls who look just like her.
As you might expect from this sort of childhood, Molly is a bit unusual. She’s cold and detached, which I suppose she has to be to survive. Her unusual circumstances have basically forced her to become a serial killer starting from a really young age. She was a hard character to connect with, part of why I found The Murders of Molly Southbourne intellectually interesting but not emotionally engaging.
The explanation of why this is happening to Molly is pretty vague. The Murders of Molly Southbourne takes place in a near future where human fertility has fallen to levels making the survival of the species precarious. This may tie into Molly’s special biology, but it’s left as a loose background sketch. The focus of the novella is on the story of Molly’s life.
While I don’t know if this sci-fi horror novella lived up to my high expectations, I did enjoy reading it. If Tade Thompson is ever to publish a sequel novella (and I hear one’s in the works!), then I’ll be sure to pick it up.