Every time Molly Southbourne bleeds, a new molly is born. With every opening of her flesh or her monthly period, a hole forms in the ground and a mysterious, murderous, doppelganger appears.
It's a fresh and bizarre concept played wonderfully straight by Tade Thompson, who delivers a smattering of scares and genuine creepiness alongside some soft sci-fi mojo in the book's latter half. But what really impressed me was the character of Molly herself.
Molly is a psychologically complex figure, and she left me thinking a lot about nature versus nurture. Because of her condition and the pseudo hemophiliac-like countermeasures of her life (furniture with no corners, for instance), as well as the rules she must live by (If you see yourself, run. Don't bleed. Blot, burn, bleach.), I couldn't help but wonder how much of Molly's behavior and quirks was a direct result of her odd condition and the fashion in which her parents were forced to nurture her, and how much was her natural state simply being given an outlet. Having to confront her evil twins on a routine basis, she is allowed to explore certain dark impulses that she might have otherwise repressed. Although Thompson doesn't delve deeply into such an exploration, it's still leaves me curious, and the mannerisms of several of the other mollys leaves it as a nagging question, a sort of mental puzzle box to explore without authorial hand-holding.
Equally impressive was the writing itself. Thompson runs a tight ship and infuses this novella with a startling amount of depth in such a short span of time, yet keeps the story moving fast. He pulls off character development and spectacle with equal aplomb, accomplishing so much with both in so few pages. This book is expert-level stuff all the way through. Although I have a few questions, and plenty of suspicions, about Molly, the biggest question is how the hell haven't I heard of Tade Thompson before, and how quickly can I buy more of his work?
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
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