Review: How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: The Borough Press
Published: July 2022
Pages: 400


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.

When Grace Bernard discovers her absentee millionaire father has rejected her dying mother’s pleas for help, she vows revenge and sets about to kill every member of his family. Readers have a front-row seat as Grace picks off the family one by one – and the result is as gruesome as it is entertaining in this wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder.

But then Grace is imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit.

Outrageously funny, compulsive and subversive, perfect for fans of Killing Eve and My Sister, the Serial Killer.

My Thoughts…

After a few heavier reads and a rather hectic couple of weeks, I was longing to dive into a funny, comfort read. So, of course, I plucked How to Kill Your Family from my never-ending TBR. What better way to relax than with a book about multiple murders?

The premise for this was great, and I was super excited about it going in. I enjoy a good mystery, love an unreliable narrator and am all for irony and sass in my MCs, so this seemed like a perfect fit. Alas, this is one of those cases where the execution just didn’t live up to my expectations. The book started out strong but slowly started its slow descent downhill, right up until it crashed and burned at the end.

Grace is the illegitimate daughter of a millionaire who abandoned her and her mother, ignoring her mother’s pleas for help as she was close to dying. After discovering this, Grace vows revenge and decides to kill every member of her father’s family, leaving him for last. The story is narrated by Grace in journal form, as she is in prison for murder… except it’s the only one she didn’t commit.

I enjoyed the journal form, even though it made very little sense to me why Grace should ever want to commit to paper a full account of every murder she committed and so far got away with. Still, her narrating voice was snarky and sarcastic and perfect to set the tone for the book. This unfortunately didn’t last very long, as soon she just became annoying and borderline offensive. The story started to drag from very early on, and I almost started to feel like reading this book was a chore.

We have a front-row seat to Grace’s attempts at social commentary, which typically reduce to her hating everyone and everything and resenting the world for all that she missed. Although her feelings could be understandable, and could have been written in such a way as to allow for her character to grow, there was a distinct sense that we should be agreeing with her full stop even when she is spewing hate for no discernible reason. There were also a few very uncomfortable scenes and behaviours, which I just could not get on board with.

I didn’t DNF this as I kept hoping I would actually start enjoying it, or at least find it funnier than I had so far, but unfortunately I never did. There were a few funny scenes here and there, but they were sadly not enough to carry the whole book. I also absolutely hated the ending, which just felt like an afterthought tacked on for the sake of one final plot twist.

While I appreciate what the author was trying to do here, the class commentary was just not effective and in fact more often than not was reduced to a slew of stereotypes and never-ending judgment with absolutely no foundation to stand on. For me, Grace was not the witty anti-hero she should be, but rather came across as an extremely unlikeable, self-centred and, ultimately, shallow individual. Sadly, this one was just not for me.

CONTENT WARNINGS This book contains mentions of death, murder, sexual content, drug use and terminal illness.

Rating: 2/5

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