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Death in Her Hands ❴Reading❵ ➿ Death in Her Hands Author Ottessa Moshfegh – Thomashillier.co.uk A novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds a cryptic note on a walk in the woods that ultimately makes her uestion everything about her new A novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds a cryptic note on a walk in the woods that ultimately makes her uestion everything Death in PDF or about her new home While on her normal daily walk with her dog in the forest woods our protagonist comes across a note handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with a frame of stones Her name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn't me Here is her dead body Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this She is new to area having moved her from her longtime home after the death of her husband and she knows very few people And she's a little shaky even on best days Her brooding about this note uickly grows into a full blown obsession and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of her conjectures about who this woman was and how she met her fate Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world and with mounting excitement and dread the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape But as we follow her in her investigation strange dissonances start to accrue and our faith in her grip on reality weakens until finally just as she seems be facing some of the darkness in her own past with her late husband we are forced to face the prospect that there is either a innocent explanation for all this or a much sinister one one that strikes closer to homeA triumphant blend of horror suspense and pitch black comedy 'Death in Her Hands' asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both guide us closer to the truth and keep us at bay from it Once again we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned only this time the stakes have never been higher.


10 thoughts on “Death in Her Hands

  1. Michelle Michelle says:

    I have to be honest here and admit that I just didn't get this book Ottessa Moshfegh is so insanely talented as a writer but this book was utterly pointless We have a 72 year old woman a widow that lives in almost complete solitude with her dog Charlie in a cabin on a lake While out walking she finds a note Her name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn't me Here is her dead body However there is no body and Vesta becomes completely obsessed in solving the mystery of Magda She creates a complete back story on Magda who she is what she was like to how her death came to be Going as so far as meeting strangers and giving them roles in her narrative Essentially this is a story being told within a story We all know that Ottessa embraces the oddball eccentric and unlikable characters uite well and she shines here with our dear Vesta She is also able to create a claustrophobic atmosphere and there are a couple downright creepy scenes but I needed than that to enjoy this Word of warning This woman HATES fat people and it's mentioned over and over and over again There is also killing of an animal which I personally could have lived without reading I have read the ending twice now and I am still trying to figure out the point I hate finishing a book and thinking that it was a complete waste of time but sadly that is how I feel here Maybe this is a meditation on loneliness and unfulfilled desires due to a domineering and unfaithful husband I don't know Eileen will remain a favorite of mine but I have yet to read anything else by this author that satisfies me even though I love her writing style 2 stars Thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Press for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review


  2. Robin Robin says:

    Is there nothing this woman can't do? Death in Her Hands Ottessa Moshfegh's newest novel takes the cozy mystery genre and stands it on its head Takes what Agatha Christie and her lot do so well and goes six feet under that Deeply examining life death grief Regrets resentment anger All that uncomfortable stuffThe book opens with a cryptic note found in the woods by a 72 year old woman Vesta walking her dog Her name was Magda No one will ever know who killed her It wasn't me Here is her dead body Vesta a widow who is living in a cabin in a very secluded area becomes obsessed Who is this Magda? Where is she? How did she die? Her imagination runs amokWe readers wonder about Magda too We do But the real mystery of this book is whether our narrator is losing her mind She seems unstable from the first so the uestion isn't is this narrator unreliable? It's like will this narrator turn out to be reliable after all? We desperately hope soFans of Moshfegh who have already read Booker nominated Eileen will find this narrator somewhat familiar Both stories are told from the point of view of an older woman looking back at her younger tougher days Both women have gained perspective and a certain wisdom about life Another comparison can be made Poetry by William Blake and a rural setting in which an older single animal loving woman is fighting the patriarchy will bring to mind Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the DeadThe writing is gorgeously muscular experienced Completely character driven relentlessly interior fascinating and clever Moshfegh compels you through this uasi mystery by injecting tension and her trademark bleakness This novel captures the insanity of loneliness in a murky brilliant snarlI should mention if you're waiting for someone to shit in the middle of the room or keep a dead rodent in the glovebox of their car you might be disappointed It's the least controversial of her books thus far which could be a letdown for those craving that kick in the crotch we've come to expect from dear Ms Moshfegh And then after you think about Vesta and the mystery and her grief there lurks a deeper meta layer While pondering the circumstances of Magda's death Vesta behaves much like a writer coming up with a list of suspects character traits motives background setting She stays up late writing in notebooks How terribly lonely that whole process is Writing The creating of world and story populating a once empty reality venturing into a weird untraversed headspace It's solitary It's crazy making It's self defeating It nearly kills you But if you're good you'll find the jugular that sticky bloody life sourceWas there any doubt? She's so good She found it again


  3. Beata Beata says:

    Despite the title I somehow did not expect to read a book dealing with a murder of a woman not to mention a capture of a culprit For me the story of a 72 year old widow who moved to a small town of Levant New England and lives in a modest cabin with a dog Charlie whom she gave a forever home is a story of loneliness and bitterness she suffered in her life The note found during one of the walks with Charlie becomes the opening to her speculations on whether there wasreally a murder committed and who the murderer is She spends her days observing the people around and creating the story of Magda giving her life and identityVesta Gul is not a character you come to like however perhaps owing to a good narration by Ann Marie Lee I felt for her at many moments as she seems to have had a rather unhappy marriage and now she lives in an environment that she finds unfriendly to say the least On the other hand she keeps the distance and is not a senior citizen who seeks to blend in the neighbourhood I suspect she likes her isolation even if she does not realize that as it gives her independence of which she was deprived in the past Vesta is an unreliable narrator my favourite kind hence my warm feelings towards her


  4. Meike Meike says:

    Ottessa Moshfegh has written a twisted genre bending detective story Her protagonist Vesta Gul is a 72 year old widow who lives in a remote former girl scout camp with her dog Charlie But mind you Vesta is no Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher; rather it becomes very clear early on that there is something psychologically wrong with this lonely female narrator who tells us that she found a mysterious slip of paper in the woods with the words scribbled on it Here name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn't me Here is her dead body There is no dead body though and the suspense of the whole novel relies on the uestion what really happened in how far Vesta is delusional what her delusions point at and whether Moshfegh has broken the main rule of the murder mystery The detective and the murderer can't be the same person Vesta sets out to investigate what happened to Magda but her conclusions mainly rely on projection her rambling thoughts her restless mind and her obsession with the note seem to be driven by her lack of occupation and social contacts She constructs her own suspects and their backstories gives them names feels like she recognizes them in people she meets by accident and we follow her further and further down the rabbit hole As the story progresses it becomes clear that Vesta's deceased husband of almost four decades Walter Gul a German epistemologist with Turkish roots did not treat her particularly well and Vesta who has Croatian roots still hears his voice telling her what to think and do Now two fun facts 1 Vesta is the name of the Roman goddess of home hearth and family 2 Moshfegh herself is half Croatian Throughout the text we are trapped inside Vesta's mind which leads to feelings of claustrophobia although the topic is completely different the whole narrative experience is not unlike Milkman What fuels the story is Moshfegh's typical disregard for narrative conventions and her playfulness Mystery was an artless gernre that much was obvious Many of Vesta's thoughts are darkly comic and her ideas freuently point to wider concepts We have a potential victim called Magda Mary Magdalene and a potential perpetratator called Ghod which might be a reference to of course God or mock deities or authorities in general or to Walter or just check out Urban Dictionary; then there are two poems in there one Vesta cannot identify it's WB Yeats' The Second Coming the famous line Moshfegh does not uote but that applies here being Things fall apart; the center cannot hold and the other William Blake's The Voice of the Ancient Bard; plus lots of other puzzling stuff like childless Vesta's unsettling fixation on uestions of abortion So all in all Death in Her Hands has all the classic ingredients of Moshfegh's fiction mainly the potential to disturb and challenge readers and I love her daring fearless unusual writing This effort might prove to be uite divisive because the author refuses to leave the self imposed restrictions of her narrative voice but I think that's also the special appeal of the story There is no outside of Magda she lives entirely within her misaligned perceptions and while immersed in this story so do we the readers


  5. Blair Blair says:

    I reviewed this for Sublime Horror Read the full review here Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh review – an easier book to admire than enjoy 35 Initially I thought Ottessa Moshfegh was toning down her usual style with what seems like a deliberately bland narrative voice Vesta is a widow in her seventies who's recently moved to a lakeside cabin in non specific small town America One morning while taking her beloved dog Charlie for a walk she finds a strange note on the ground It reads 'Her name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn't me Here is her dead body' But there is no body While Vesta is instantly obsessed with the 'mystery' she makes no attempt to find out whether anyone named Magda has been reported missing in the local area Instead she finds a 'character profile uestionnaire' on a webpage titled 'Top Tips for Mystery Writers' and bases her investigation on thatVesta's narrative is an infinite scroll feed of her fantasies and imaginings She constructs a whole world around her make believe Magda including several lovers Most of her interactions with people are imagined too; the voice of her late husband Walter often intrudes on her thoughts Anyone who read My Year of Rest and Relaxation will be unsurprised to meet another character who regards most everyone she encounters with contempt judging their looks making assumptions about their lives thinking about how poised and beautiful she is in comparison A Moshfegh protagonist who hates fat people? Groundbreaking Only her fictional Magda whom she sometimes imagines as a daughter escapes this judgement I deliberately read this directly after Olga Tokarczuk's Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead; several early reviews have noted the resemblance between the two novels Both have an elderly female protagonist a dog lover who lives alone likes to wander through the woods and invents nicknames for the people she encounters There are characters of Eastern European origin and even references to the poetry of William Blake I can't say I know what to make of these similarities – they seem prominent enough to be intentional but to what end? Perhaps it's just part of Moshfegh's literary trickery a deliberate attempt to invoke the spectre of plagiarismunoriginality within a novel that is after all a closed self referential loopThere's a reference to The Yellow Wall Paper in here too and probably others I missed Vesta made me think about other novels with female protagonists whose imaginations wildly outstrip reality Katie Kitamura's A Separation Anita Brookner's Undue Influence Sara Gran's Come Closer Towards the end the sense of escalating dread and loss of control reminded me strongly of I’m Thinking of Ending ThingsThe blurb calls Death in Her Hands 'a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense'; the key word in that sentence is 'metaphysical' This story is not what it seems It's not going where you think it's going What Moshfegh is doing here is very clever The title for example is genius it's an inspired choice to lift this particular phrase from the book – I'd never have guessed what it was actually describing – but it's also a clue a key and an injoke for the enjoyment of those who have unlocked it The problem is that it takes so long to reach the point where things like this are clear For so much of the book I was just bored and annoyed by Vesta wanting to get at the meat of the plot instead of reading page after page of a small minded character's weird fantasies Eventually I understood that this is exactly the point which again is clever but not necessarily very pleasurable Making Vesta's account so determinedly dull also blunts its uotability something I've always thought of as one of the author's main strengthsBut I get the impression that this – putting a neat narrative trick above the reader's enjoyment of the story – is typically Moshfeghian The joke's on me I suppose for taking Vesta's 'murder mystery' at face value It's just hard to love a book when it feels like the whole thing amounts to the author having a laugh at your expenseI think I'm destined to come away from Ottessa Moshfegh's books thinking 'that was really interesting but I didn't particularly like it' As with My Year of Rest and Relaxation I appreciated it a lot once I had finished it stepped back and fully understood what it was aiming for I can see now that all the signs were there from the start and I can see how rereading it might be a satisfying experience Yet I would never want to reread it Death in Her Hands works as a concept; it is frustrating as a novelI received an advance review copy of Death in Her Hands from the publisher through NetGalleyTinyLetter


  6. Maxwell Maxwell says:

    Things might be theoretical that was true I may be imagining it all but it still hurt It was still sad to lose someone you lovedVesta is a 72 year old dog owning loner She's recently moved cross country after the death of her husband 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 bodyExcept there is no dead body present With this incident Vesta sets out on a murder mystery metaphysical than literal perhaps subverting the genre and probing at grand themes of loneliness grief and finding solace in the face of deathMoshfegh is without a doubt a phenomenal writer I could see that when I first read her novel Eileen though it took me a second reading to truly understand Followed by her short stories and then second novel which was widely praised Moshfegh made a name for herself as a writer focused on the fringes on the characters just left of center the losers and weirdos the messed upsBut I think her fascination with these characters goes deeper than uirks In her works she is searching for consolation Isn't that what we all seek? In life? In the novels we read? In the people we love? We want than anything not to be alone And not only that but to be loved in return— authentically wholly without pretenseVesta is grappling with this just as much as Eileen or the unnamed narrator of My Year or any of Moshfegh's other protagonists What does life look like after you've lost someone you loved? What happens when your memory of that person isn't as shiny and beautiful as you'd have hoped? Moshfegh so cleverly allows Vesta to wrestle with this issue outside of herself in attempting to solve Magda's alleged murder While so much of the events of this book take place in the 'mindspace' as Vesta puts it there is even going on in the backgroundSwimming through these murky waters may not be for every reader Vesta can be aloof and naive; I'd be tempted to say she even goes as far as to be deluded if I didn't have a soft spot for her Clearly many didn't resonate with this work my GR friends' average rating is 29 Ouch and that's fine That's what makes reading so special Like Vesta stumbling upon a secret note a novel that feels like it's written just for you Something to keep for yourself to journey through alone and find that elusive connection we all seek Recognition in something greater something outside of yourself something good


  7. Read By RodKelly Read By RodKelly says:

    Oh the terrible wonders of the mind⁣⁣⁣⁣Death in Her Hands is a dark layered novel that lulls the reader into the crumbling psyche of an incredibly lonely depressed protagonist desperately trying to free her mind expunge the painful memories that she tries to bury within a labyrinth of half truths alternate history She is a woman powerless over her mind yet dependent on it to conjure a reality she can believe in; that she can survive in At length she reflects on a life of unfulfilled desire; mourning her unrealized dreams her unsatisfied yearnings her suandered passion Recently widowed she begins to register the hatred she felt for the deleterious pompous academic she married her dissatisfaction with the decades long monotony of life as a housewife may have caused her mind to deteriorate in deeper ways than she realizes For years she had been constructing alternate realities counterlives to combat the constant interia boredom she felt now in her old age her mind is uncontrolled deranged dangerous deceptive than she knows being without the mental fortitude to comprehend her own deficiences ⁣⁣⁣⁣In this novel Ottessa Moshfegh returns to the dark death reek of McGlue crafting a meta murder mystery cum domestic drama suffused with slowly built tension dread fear It is all interiority murk a story of imagination loosed delusions how ideas germinate sprout become palpable living things The author explores the imaginative s of senility of an unwinding mind uite unsurprising if you've followed her career to this point While this novel wasn't as transcendent a reading experience as the brilliant and perfect My Year of Rest and Relaxation it is nonetheless a highly entertaining complex fifth offering from a writer I will stan forever ⁣


  8. Marchpane Marchpane says:

    Death in Her Hands begins intriguingly when a woman finds a note in the woods Her name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn’t me Here is her dead bodyBut there’s no body just the note weighted down with little rocks Vesta—the 72 year old widow who discovered it—fancies herself a sleuth and becomes obsessed with Magda but her ‘investigation’ resembles a creative writing exercise she simply invents the suspects and circumstances leading to Magda’s death Vesta admits that the note is the closest thing to a social call she’s had in a long time—her’s is a solitary lifeSo the reader begins to wonder what’s up with Vesta? Is she unraveling? Maybe she wrote the note herself? What exactly is going on?But this is no mere ‘unreliable narrator’ trope and as the novel progresses it becomes and slippery Vesta reveals about her ambivalent feelings towards her late husband and his controlling and cruel nature And it becomes clear that this is not a whodunit but a psychological study of grief regret and facing one’s own mortalitySlow moving atmospheric with a strong distinctive voice in the eccentric Vesta Death in Her Hands is a head scratcher in a good way 4 stars


  9. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Audiobookread by Ann Marie LeeI like Ottessa Moshfeghborn the same year 1981 as my older daughter The first book I read rather listened to was “Eileen”shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize I couldn’t pull away I thought I had never read anything gut wrenching grimbut damn if it wasn’t fascinating in my entire life I became an instant fanGiven how successful ‘listening’ to the audiobook of “Eileen”I chose the audiobook again with “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”GREAT different than “Eileen” greatbut eually thrilled with the book and my chosen “Audiobook FormatSooooo having had great luck with Ottessa’s audiobooks in the pastI pre ordered the audiobook “Death In Her Hands”Only this timeI kept wondering if I made a mistake Should I have ‘read’ this one rather than listen to it? Immediately I had a judgement with the narrators voice when listening to the famous words they are included in the blurb summary and a dozen other places “ Her name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn’t me Here is her dead body”“But there is no dead body”Okgot the picture? Those words? They are definitely eye ear gripping for sure Who wouldn’t be shaken — what the hell was Magda to make of the note? It was CREEPYalso frightening BUTwith Ann Marie Lee’s voice — I was fighting with my desire to know where the story would go with the way she soundedI eventually got use to her voice but noting her voice wasn’t thrilling me in the way the last two Ottessa books didI don’t mind slowbut my godthe unraveling was REALLY SLOWsooooo little was happening for the longgggggest time Ottessa Moshfegh I LOVE THIS AUTHORand will read her again I’m okay with weird eerie satire haunting suspense loneliness delusional thinking self deprivation obsession narcissismI expect these things from Ottessabut this wasn’t her best book — not for me Sluggish plotA very lonely bitter unreliable 72 year old womanA deceased husbandA horrific scene with a dogLots of ramblingsA very un fun dark comic crime thrillerthat this time around I didn’t jive with the humor 2 stars I personally don’t recommend ‘this’ bookbut I do the first two books I mentioned but even those Ottessa Moshfegh is not for everyone


  10. Olivia (Stories For Coffee) Olivia (Stories For Coffee) says:

    While the concept of this story sounded right up my alley it left much to be desired because the entire novel– that I sped through because it is gripping despite its lack of plot– is simply Vesta’s stream of consciousness as she ponders who Magda was who killed her what her past was like etc From the moment Vesta finds this note there is no actual progression of the plot from there onwards There is no real mystery or overlying darkness to this story that is gripping but makes one wonder why they wasted their time reading a story that has no actual plot We are simply stuck in Vesta’s mind as she loses her grip on reality and she comes to terms with the fact that she has no real company to hold onto and she has lived a safe life full of regrets but that’s itI wish I could have connected with the story or the protagonist I wish there was an actual development to the plot after she stumbles upon this note but instead we are forced to follow along with Vesta’s sporadic internal monologue only to be served a uickly wrapped up ending that made me wonder why I picked this book up in the first place In short the conceptsynopsis was interesting than the book itself which let me down a lot CONTENT WARNING Death of an animal fatphobiaSEE MORE OF MY REVIEWS AT STORIESFORCOFFEECOM


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