Books are a fundamental part of being human. And for me, nothing brings me more joy than a book! Leafing through a pile of cookery books on a Sunday evening, exploring the world through a travel guide, searching for quiet moments to get my nose stuck into that page-turner and enjoying whimsical picture books at bedtime with my little boy.

I read as much as I can, although of course not as much as I would like. Passing books on to friends and family is such a pleasure and finding someone who feels equally as passionate about characters in a book is a thrill.

One of my favourite books of all time is A Little Life, and my love of this book is how my Insta friendship with Alex (@allex.c) began. We slide into each others Instagram DMs with recommendations, pop books in the post to each other and generally just share our love of reading together. It's an unexpected, but truly lovely friendship.

And I'm really excited that Alex has agreed to write a series of reviews for you, my wonderful Object Story community. I know many of you are avid readers too.

Reading time, like all time, is precious, so I hope this book review series will help you to add some fantastic books to your shelf. 

Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

death in her hands book review

Review written by Alex Cottam ~ a lover of all things contemporary fiction who never likes to be without a book on the go. A personal focus on living a slower lifestyle where possible. Lives on the South Coast. 

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To celebrate Spooky Season! One for those who aren’t usually crime-fiction readers, but want something eerie to dive headfirst into for this time of year. 

We follow Vesta, a 70 something year-old woman, who becomes obsessed with solving a murder. Recently moving to the woods after becoming a widow, she lives in a once girl-scout camp with her dog, Charlie, in a most unwelcoming, eerie town. One day on a walk in the woods she stumbles upon a note: "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." This is the catalyst for her fixation, almost as a coping mechanism for her loneliness, Vesta is determined to find out who killed Magda.

The story isn’t quite what you would expect of a classic ‘who-dunnit’ as much as trying to solve the murder, you are equally invested in whether in fact Vesta is delusional. It seems that she is slightly losing herself, flitting in and out of black outs, as the book progresses, weird things continue to happen in the woods.

Looking into the fallout of grief and memory, Vesta has clearly been moved by her own experiences of this. Moshfegh questions what happens when the memory of someone you loved isn’t as charming as you once thought. This is something that you learn later in the novel, which I think takes the plot up a notch, rather than your traditional thriller.

After reading ‘My Year of Rest and Relaxation’ by Ottessa Moshfegh previously, I was a little dubious to read more from her, as I have to be honest, I found the unlikable character and plotless book a little boring. However, after finishing ‘Death in Her Hands’, I am now a complete convert to Moshfegh’s work.

This is also a little reminder to visit your local library! I managed to pick this up in my tiny library near where I live, which I have only, shamelessly, started using. It’s also a great way to pick up a book that you wouldn’t normally choose - as you have nothing to lose. Reading books can become an expensive hobby, so it’s always worth a wander to see what titles your library holds - you’ll probably be surprised! 

October 26, 2021 — Alice Paling