The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?
Y’all, I think book for book this might be the best Halloween Read-a-thon I’ve done so far. We’re sitting at 2.5 (good reads) out of 5 this year, and The Murders of Molly Southbourne is here to put us firmly over the halfway mark. What a fucking ride.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne is a super intense, character-driven tale that takes a bizarre premise – a woman spawns murderous clones every time she bleeds – and focuses entirely on the human side of it. So your blood-clones want to kill you; what next? How does Molly cope with this? What is her life like? How does she function on a day to day basis? How did she deal with it as a child? As a teenager? How did it impact her development, her home life, her family? How did her parents cope? Murders explores the nitty gritty details in a way that is deeply satisfying. Yes, break this idea down and show me how it works. I don’t care about how it happened or what the ramifications are for the world at large, I want to know how Molly deals with her period, or what she does when a clone shows up at the office. Give me those mundane details, baby, I want them all.

That being said, if you are someone who’s curious about the why and the world, don’t worry, Murders doesn’t leave you hanging. The explanation is a little trite, conceptually, but it’s executed so well from a characterization standpoint that it works anyway.

It helps immeasurably that Molly is a fantastic character. It’s fascinating to see her develop through the years, to see how she becomes the woman that she is at the start and end of the book, so specifically shaped by her parents and her doppelgangers and the circumstances of her life. Molly is a complex woman, yet another who is allowed to live, without judgement, in her ugly emotions, the ugly necessities of her life, in a way that I deeply appreciate.

On top of being an engrossing exploration of a complex woman with a bizarre problem, Murders is tense as fuck. The whole thing is permeated with a sense of unease that only increases as you learn more about what’s going on, and become more keenly aware of the danger that waits around every corner.

True story: I kind of had a panic attack reading this. I mean, it was also in the midst of a stressful day, but the tension in this book was so goddamn substantial that it left me jittery and raw, even after I’d put the book down. It’s extremely effective in what it sets out to do.

Like, I’m just really, really thrilled to have found this book, and read it, and to now tell you to read it immediately. It’s weird and surreal and it sticks the fucking landing SO HARD. I just learned that there’s gonna be a sequel, and while that ending was mwah *chef kiss* no expansion necessary, I’m still thrilled at the prospect of getting another ride like this. This book is good, Tade Thompson is good, thank Tor for quality novellas, do yourself a favor and check out The Murders of Molly Southbourne like right now.

five stars


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