An intriguing, creepy and ultimately tragic novella
Every time she bleeds a murderer is born.
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?
This is the first book by Thompson that I’ve read. The first thing that jumped out at me was the quality of the author’s prose: it’s pristine, really. It’s journalistic in its clarity, it is gripping, expressive, and a delight to read. Over the course of this short novella, you’ll come to care for Molly, and even some of the mollys. Once again, Tor.com have published a fantastic piece of short speculative fiction.
Molly Southbourne’s condition is fascinating and quite horrifying. Thompson doesn’t spend much time explaining it (though there is a short potential explanation towards the end of the story). We get a fair amount of information about how Molly’s parents prepared her to deal with her condition, and we see how this training serves her (or not) when she eventually finds herself away from home and alone.
I found Molly to be one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve read in a long while — she’s functionally a serial killer, but her victims are her doppelgängers. This, of course, has a rather stark psychological impact on her. I enjoyed how blunt she was at times.
There was something about the way the novella and protagonist is written, too, that put me in mind of Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August — they don’t share subject matter, but the overall quality of excellence in pacing and prose made me think of North’s debut.
I can’t go into more detail without spoiling the story. But, needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a short, thought-provoking, chilling and tragic novella, then I highly recommend The Murders of Molly Southbourne. This could easily be one of my favourite reads in the past couple of years.
Very highly recommended.
The Murders of Molly Southbourne is out now, published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK. Thompson’s next release is a new edition of his Nommo Award-winning novel Rosewater, which is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK.