- Hydra (Six Stories #2).
- Matt Wesolowski.
- 320 pages.
- Crime / Thriller / Mystery / Suspense / Horror.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
A family massacre. A deluded murderess. Five witnesses. Six stories. Which one is true?
One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 21-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 kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…
Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.
I have often seen various Orenda books on many blogs that I visit and regardless of the author or the book all seem to garner unanimous praise from my fellow bloggers or as I’m coining them The Orenda Army, you’re welcome.👍😱😂😝📚
One Orenda author that I have seen on blogs and wanted to read myself for a while now is Matt Wesolowski and his book Six Stories and the sequel Hydra. His work sounded like something that I could really dig and that would appeal to me. I’d seen it referred to as light and fluffy, hell to the yes, sign me up!
Obviously, for clarity’s sake light and fluffy means dark and disturbing.👍👌
‘Into the dark I stray, into the dark I stay,
I chose a broken road until the life had left my soul’.
Now, for the unaware those be Parkway Drive lyrics, I could have used:
‘Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again’.
The classic lyric from The Sound of Silence but…..I thought I’d freshen things up.👍
Alas, you all know how it is and it is the lament of the reader, too many books and never enough time to read them all. However, I’d just finished reading a rather hefty beast of a book, none of my mountainous TBR pile was calling to me (I’m male, I’m picky) and I was browsing the Kindle books on Amazon. Now, obviously, I wasn’t on Amazon to begin with, I’d been reading up on what are appropriate nicknames to call my co-workers and somehow the next instance the Kindle store was open the only explanation, my laptop is possessed!😱👻
Anyhow, I saw that Hydra was on offer for the sum of £0.99p and at that low price, I just had to give it a read and pop my Orenda cherry.🍒😱😝
You might be wondering why I didn’t purchase Six Stories and instead opted for the sequel in Hydra. It’s simple, Hydra was on offer, Six Stories wasn’t but also, the dark cover for Hydra called out to me and yes, I know, I committed a cardinal sin by not reading the first book, first.😱
And so, here we are, over 300 words into the review and it’s yet to be any sort of review!😱😂
The idea behind the Internet sensation true-crime podcast Six Stories is that the host, the investigative journalist Scott King takes a crime and then interviews six people over six episodes over six weeks looking back on the events, the people involved and discussing the whole affair. This approach gives the podcast listener the same story told by six different people with six different perspectives allowing them the opportunity to digest all the gathered information from the various sources and come to their own conclusion.
Scott King and his Six Stories podcast where every other journalist before have failed is given the opportunity to interview the infamous Arla Macleod who as a twenty-one-year-old on a November night in 2014 murdered her mother, stepfather and sister in a brutal killing dubbed the ‘Macleod Massacre‘. Arla was subsequently found guilty and sentenced with diminished responsibility for the crime. Now residing for the rest of her life in the medium security mental-health hospital of Elmtree Manor.
Hydra isn’t a book where you are looking for the killer’s identity, we already know that Arla Macleod brutally killed her family. So, the question Wesolowski is asking of us isn’t Who? But, why? Why did she do it? Why did Arla enact this horrific and unprovoked killing? What drove her to murder her own family? A psychotic episode? A supernatural force? Were there other mitigating circumstances? And finally, is Arla telling the truth?
Arla’s own account is one story out of the six and, then, you have the five remaining people left to tell their story who in some way all had a connection with and knew Arla. With each new interview and interviewee, the veil is pulled further back on Arla offering a new look, different reasons, thoughts and views as to what led Arla down the road to commit murder and why.
The interviews conducted by King are each fascinating in their own way and give us additional insights into Arla, her personality, her school life, her family life, was negligence involved? Her obsession with the musician, Skexxixx, his dark lyrics and the meaning and the sense of identity that she found in them. Her infatuation with dangerous occult games and rituals. Could the amount of time that Arla spent online chatting with people in groups and forums have had any effect on her? Did she have an undiagnosed mental health condition? And, finally, what occurred leading up to the sinistrous night that culminating in her killing her family. This allows Wesolowski to slowly build both the tension of the story and the portrait of Arla as more and more of the mystery surrounding who Arla is and the ‘Macleod Massacre’ is revealed.
Along with the six podcasts we are also given more depth and insight into Arla thanks to her own recorded personal thoughts from sessions with a psychiatrist.
The host, Scott King likes his anonymity. He hasn’t created Six Stories in the hope that it will make him famous. No, he created the podcast to ask questions and look at old crime cases in a new light. His anonymity, however, is thrown into doubt by his series into the Macleod Massacre when he starts being trolled, receiving threatening text messages both to his mobile phone and on the Six Stories social media warning him to stop with the series. Add into this that the interviewees themselves often seem afraid, fearful, on edge and reticent coming across like they are reluctant to divulge certain things to King. This all adds to the pervading sense of unease that is felt throughout Hydra, something tangible lurking in the background as the picture of Arla unfolds.
The horror and supernatural element of Hydra come from the addition of the black-eyed kids (BEKs). The BEKs have randomly haunted Arla ever since a childhood holiday in Cornwall years before the killing took place. The BEKs are a group of children with porcelain pale skin and empty dead black eyes appearing at night, knocking on doors and windows and asking to be let into your vehicle or house. Now, I hadn’t heard of the urban legend surrounding BEKs until I read Hydra so I had to Google them (it needed to be done) and damn, there is some creepy and weird shit to do with them on the web! If you aren’t expecting any visitor’s but you hear a knocking on your door then ignore it and don’t let the creepy little fuckers in!
Hydra is formatted to read like the transcripts of the interviews conducted by King, it’s an inventive and original approach (at least for me in books) that works really well creating an atmospheric and chilling read. I knew that I was reading a work of fiction but I often had the feeling that I was reading ‘real‘ transcripts and accounts and not a ‘story‘ adding an air of authenticity to Hydra.
Wesolowski’s fresh style of writing and storytelling, the characters he creates who all have their own individual voices, the various accounts, the probing questions that King asks, the answers, his commentary on the answers, the information that he is given, the musings, his laying out of the knowledge, his putting together the pieces of the puzzle and the forming of the character profile of Arla all add to a tragic, occasionally unsettling yet ultimately fascinating read.
I loved Hydra! It is clever, devilishly dark, mesmeric and oh so sinister.
Purchase Hydra (Six Stories #2).
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