Hydra by @ConcreteKraken Matt Wesolowski #BookReview #BlogTour

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the "Macleod Massacre." Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden "games," online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

It's my pleasure to be one of the hosts (along with Jo from the fabulous My Chestnut Reading Tree) for the blog tour for Hydra today, many thanks to the publishers, author and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.
Matt Wesolowski's debut, Six Stories was one of the most memorable books I read last year, the podcast format making for a unique and exciting thriller. So I was delighted to learn that Scott King would be returning with another Six Stories, even more so when I first set eyes on that spine-tingling front cover.
That Arla Macleod brutally murdered her family isn't in any doubt, what interests King with this case is just what drove a young girl to carry out this horrific act. Arla has become a hugely controversial figure; on the one hand a pop culture icon whose image adorns T-shirts, on the other she is vilified for what many see as her soft sentence. She now resides at a medium security mental health institution but there is widespread belief that she should be in a maximum security prison instead. King hopes to find out what may have triggered the psychotic episode that led to Arla bludgeoning her mother, father and sister to death with a hammer.
King's first interview is with Arla herself before he talks to people from her past who may be able to shine a light on events. It gradually becomes clear that what lies behind this horrific mass murder is even more dark than many people would perhaps have believed. The media were quick to pinpoint her musical tastes as somehow to blame but as King delves into her history, he suspects the real reasons may be rather more connected to a family holiday Arla went on to Cornwall when she was fourteen. Meanwhile, somebody seems very keen that King stops his investigation and the disturbing threats he receives are enough to make him feel very concerned for his own safety.
Hydra is a truly unnerving book but just what drives that fear is something I think will vary from person to person. For some it will be the spooky Black-Eyed Children and the menacing internet games that Arla became obsessed by. However, although horror fans will find much to enjoy here, I didn't personally find it a novel I needed to read with the light on as it's not the supernatural we should be scared of, it's real life -  what goes on in families behind closed doors, the failure of mental health provision which means the vulnerable don't get the help they need and perhaps most terrifying of all, just what lurks in the darker recesses of the internet. Matt Wesolowski recognises that this is where true horror lies, as we reveal more and more of ourselves online just what are we laying ourselves open to? That the outsiders and outcasts can find solace in their subcultures is undeniable but the criminals and trolls that skulk there are ready to predate on the unaware. Starkly current and with an unsettling melancholy, Hydra isn't always an easy read. It is, however, compelling, intelligent and beautifully written - each voice is distinct, each setting is brought vividly to life.  Matt Wesolowski has crafted a cautionary and chilling tale that cements his place as one of the freshest writers around today.

Hydra is published by Orenda Books and can be purchased here. Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details can be found below.

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.

Social media links
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Matt-Wesolowski-1424984807729101/
Twitter - @ConcreteKraken


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