I absolutely loved Six Stories, and I was thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for Wesolowski’s follow up, Hydra.
Welcome to Six Stories. I’m Scott King.
In the next six weeks, we will be looking back at what happened to the Macleod family in 2014 – the incident more commonly known as ‘the Macleod massacre’. We’ll be looking back from six perspectives, seeing the events that unfolded through six pairs of eyes.
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…
As with Six Stories, Hydra is told through a series of podcasts which are released on a weekly basis, featuring a different interviewee in each episode. I love this format, and I think it works brilliantly as a way of looking at a crime, exploring it from a different angle each week. In this case, King is considering a relatively recent incident in which Arla Macleod murdered her parents and younger sister. Whilst Arla was found guilty (albeit under grounds of diminished responsibility) a motive was never really sought, and so while King states he isn’t seeking to solve any of the crimes he looks into, I think that there is a question here as to why she murdered her family, particularly in such a brutal fashion.
King’s investigation into the “Macleod massacre” is riveting, and he quickly begins to uncover a few elements that may explain why Arla committed the crime, as there seems to be little evidence to suggest that she is not guilty, and this becomes a compelling and complex story of a troubled young woman. I think that the method of telling this from one interviewee’s perspective at a time is excellent – it allows the reader to build up an idea of what happened, which might then be contradicted in the following week’s episode. I also like that King is on hand to remind the reader of the key details, and the way in which he chips in when something that has been presented as fact is corroborated or contradicted, always reminding the reader (or listener) of the key details. And whilst King states that his aim isn’t to solve the crime that he’s looking at, Hydra is brought to an extremely satisfying conclusion.
Whilst Six Stories did have a supernatural element, this was much more apparent in Hydra, and I really liked this aspect of the novel. The inclusion of the black-eyed children – an urban legend (for want of a better term) – adds a very creepy factor to the novel, and I found that this is a book to read after you’ve made sure that the doors are locked and the curtains closed.
Hydra and Six Stories are loosely linked, but can easily be read as standalone novels, and I highly recommend them both. These are both compelling novels, told in an innovative format, and despite the similarities, I never felt that this was repeating what had gone before.
Hydra is published today in paperback by Orenda Books, and is also available as an eBook. Many thanks to the publisher and to Anne Cater for the review copy, and for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour: