Dead Relatives. Well where do I start?!? Maybe firstly with a thank you and an apology.
The Thank You going to Jordan at Dead Ink Books for sending me an copy of this stunner before publication day.
And the apology again to Jordan and author for Lucie McKnight Hardy for the delay in getting the review written. I know it’s so last year but blame Covid!
Dead Relatives is a collection of short stories with a deeply delicious and unsettling tone. From the title story, whose last paragraph made me throw the book in surprise (only to grab it straight back hungry for more) to the last tale, there is glorious sense of horror and unease.
Comparisons to Shirley Jackson are wholly justified, but there is no doubt that Lucie McKnight Hardy has a style completely of her own. These stories are all the more powerful for being rooted firmly in the every day. These tales hang themselves on the domestic, on family dynamics and deep seated emotion; elements that combine to develop an unstopped and unbearable tension that spills over in the macabre and delights in it’s power to both shock and delight.
It is also impossible to ignore and wonderful to celebrate the strong female characters within these stories. There is a sense of long held wrongs being righted, often in the most unexpected and darkest ways.
If I had to choose a favourite tale, if you really, really pushed me, I would plump for Dead Relatives but the gloriously dark Resting Bitch Face and The Pickling Jar are screaming at me from the sidelines!
If you want an October read to push the boundaries of darkness, malevolence and everything in between than Dead Relatives is just the book for you!