I am so excited to be part of today’s blog tour! If you’ve read my Best Books of 2017 post you’ll know that I was a big fan of Matt Wesolowski’s debut thriller, Six Stories. So when I was asked to be part of the blog tour for Matt’s second Six Stories novel, Hydra, my reaction was very much ‘where do I sign?!’
Told using the same podcast/interview format as Six Stories, Hydra is actually a prequel of sorts, set before the events of Six Stories and, as such, the two books can be read entirely independently of each other.
This time elusive investigative journalist Scott King is examining the case of Arla Macleod, a young woman who bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer one cold November night in 2014. The events would become known as the Macleod Massacre and would lead to Arla being incarcerated in a medium-security mental-health institution for the remainder of her life. As he interviews five key witnesses to Arla’s life, and Arla herself, King becomes embroiled in a complex question: what made Arla do it and was her responsibility really as diminished as her legal team made out? Unpicking the tangled web of narrative and speculation, King is thrust into a world of dangerous internet games, online trolls and the mysterious black-eyed kids – which brings him to the attention of someone very dangerous indeed.
There’s always a worry when reading a second book that’s part of series you love – the difficult second novel is only a cliche because it happens so often following promising debuts. There’s definitely no reason for Six Stories fans to be worried though, Hydra more than lives up to it’s predecessor and is packed with the same page-turning quality that had Six Stories readers gripped from beginning to end.
Expertly plotted, this is a taut and atmospheric thriller that has the narrative compulsion of podcasts such as Serial. Each ‘episode’ builds the tension, pulling the threads that bind tangled Arla’s story together that little bit tighter each time before lobbing a plot grenade in right at the end of each chapter for that ‘can’t stop reading’ momentum. I genuinely couldn’t put this book down so don’t make the mistake of starting it late at night or you’ll be bleary-eyed for work in the morning (which definitely didn’t happen if you’re reading this boss)!
Set in a rundown northern town, there’s an ominous atmosphere that lends definite horror element to proceedings and will send a shiver up your spine at times. Yes, this is a thriller but, as with Six Stories, there’s a hint of something nasty in the woodshed hiding just around the corner. The sinister black-eyed kids and the dark world of supernatural internet games lends a spooky undertone to a twisted tale of real-world failings, a miserable home life, social disconnection, teenage rebellion,friendships gone wrong, internet trolls; all of which contribute to the tragic events of the Macleod Massacre.
And the ending? Oh the ending! As with all the best thrillers, you’ll need to wait until the very last page for the true story to unfold and, when it does, it’s a plot twist and a half!
Showing that there’s still plenty of life left in the mystery/thriller genre, Hydra is another slice of Matt Wesolowski’s page-turning, original and genre-blending style and it’s a treat for anyone who loved his first book. Definitely deserving of wider readership, this is a dark and mysterious treat for fans of page-turning literary thrillers. Prepare to be engrossed – and while you’re at it, pick up Six Stories too and see how Scott King’s story really ends!
Hydra by Matt Wesolowski is published by Orenda Books and is available now from all good bookshops. My thanks go to the publisher for providing an advance copy in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater for arranging the blog tour. Check out the rest of the stops!