Review: Hydra

Review: Hydra


Author: Matt Wesolowski

Published Feb 2018 by Orenda Books (e-Book)

Paperback, 320 pages


Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Hydra has been making the rounds at many, many blogs over the past month and its hype is well deserved. I’m thrilled to me one of the final stops in reviewing this eerie and macabre story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.




From the publisher:  


‘Matt Wesolowski is the next Stephen King…’ Antti Tuomainen


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 northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather 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 key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as 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.


My review:


Hydra is, at it’s most basic, a fictionalized account of a “true crime”.  This novelization is similar to the popular podcast, Serial in it’s episodic format. Hydra is the second “Episode” in the Six Stories series, the first being the eponymous Six Stories (Amazon | Goodreads). 


Scott King presides over Six Stories, a podcast devoted to uncovering the mysteries of cold cases or other true crime murders.  This time, however, he delves deep into the enigma of the recent massacre of an entire family and scores an exclusive interview with the convicted murderess. The book reads like a transcript of each podcast episode.


In 2014, University student Arla Macleod was convicted with diminished responsibility of killing her mother, father, and younger sister in cold blood. She is currently living out her life sentence at Elmtree Manor, a mental health hospital after being deemed mentally unfit for traditional sentencing. But why did she do it? The book follows King’s well-researched interviews with Arla and five other witnesses as he attempts to help his listeners put together the pieces.


Despite the unusual format of a novel, Wesolowski cleverly captures the peculiarities of each unique person as they pop up in Scott King’s broadcast.  You can almost hear their accents as their words jump off the page. As each person details their accounts of the gruesome murders, the reader is left spellbound.


The plot blazes forward, fresh and original and deeply poignant in today’s popular culture. The surreal and almost clinical POV that King has drops the listeners (readers) directly into the action with very little attempt at bias.  I don’t want to get into the plot much because it’s best if you just dive on in and experience it for yourself. Nothing is quite what it seems.  For the listeners of Scott King’s Six Stories, the more you listen, the less you might actually know.


I absolutely recommend this book to all readers, especially to anyone who is interested in true crime, podcasts, or thrillers. This book has it all.  If you’ve listened to Serial, S-Town, or Casefile you will absolutely love this book.

Pick up your copy today:  Amazon



This review is part of a promotional blog tour for this book. I received an advanced copy thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater, however the thoughts and opinions on this page are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

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.



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