#Hydra #MattWesolowski #BlogTour #Review


A family massacre. A deluded murderess. Five witnesses. Six Stories. 
Which one is true?

If you haven't read Wesolowski's first novel Six Stories yet then you need to - immediately. Hydra, Wesolowski's second novel, can be read as a stand alone but the concept is so original you'll definitely want to read Six Stories as well. 

The concept of both Six Stories and Hydra is that journalist Scott King investigates a 'real life' crime. He then broadcasts the interviews he manages to get with those involved with the crime, as well as offering his opinions about what might have happened, as a podcast. He tries to solve the mystery over the course of the six episodes and the book is divided into six sections. 

It is such a different kind of idea, but believe me, it works - it really really works! It's both an incredibly effective and incredibly successful way to tell a story. The writing is so authentic and the way Wesolowski mimics the introduction, content, recaps and voice of the podcast narrator is beyond impressive. It really feels as if you are 'listening' to Scott King. True crime podcasts have become so popular recently and break so many conventions within journalism and crime reporting, that it's fascinating to see the same concept adapted within the form of a novel. You might wonder how something that is designed to be so aural translates to the page, but the writing is so convincing and the voices of both King and the characters he interviews, are so brilliantly captured, that it is easy to lose yourself in the story and to hear the voices clearly. It's a unique reading experience. 

Hydra is unforgettable. I think it is even better than Six Stories. The premise for Hydra is that in November 2014, Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer in an unprovoked attack. Incarcerated at a medium security, mental health institution, Arla will only speak to Scott King. Scott King's Six Stories podcasts have become an internet success and knowing that this will not only be a fascinating project from a journalistic point of view but will also intrigue his audience, King agrees to interview her. The story that then reveals itself is dark, unsettling and chilling. 

Although there are only six 'chapters', Arla's story is complex. There is much more to it than King realises and he is intrigued to find out whether Arla's responsibility for the massacre and her mental health was as diminished as it was claimed. Each interview sheds a different light, reveals different information and offers another interpretation of what might have happened to provoke this massacre. Each section is vividly recounted, dynamic and each voice skilfully presented to feel authentic and believable. And as well as witnesses and Arla's own answers to the journalist's questions there is also something more menacing alluded to and a unsettling suggestion of something more supernatural. 

Wesolowski maximises opportunities for creating tension, intrigue, cliffhangers and drama through the organisation of the book. He takes what could become limitations with this choice of format and transforms into something very effective. He has created something that plays with the conventions of the genre of crime fiction. We meet the person accused of crime, we meet other people involved and we listen to the facts and the opinions but the fascination and the intrigue comes from the fact we only learn about these characters from what they say - and what they say in this specific context. Suddenly there is a huge importance to each detail and from every word they say;  what it might reveal creates suspense, drama and something enormously captivating. With its brevity, taut prose and decisive, controlled writing, Hydra is without doubt something very special. 

This is a crime fiction novel about murder, mental illness, families, hatred, violence but also delusion and madness. It's utterly gripping and it is right to compare this author to Stephen King. Not only has Wesolowski created a unique structure for his novel, he has also created a unique plot with unforgettable characters and disturbing themes. 

Because of the structure of this book it's possible to read it in one sitting. Well, actually it's impossible to read it any other way, it's so compelling. Don't be deceived by the speed at which you might read this novel, there is plenty of depth, skill and craft within these pages.

There's nothing more rewarding that binge watching a box set or binge listening to a podcast series - this book satisfies both these needs. There's nothing more rewarding than devouring a book cover to cover in one sitting! And being scared, shocked, entertained and gripped by every single sentence. Hydra is unique and unmissable. 

HYDRA is published by Orenda on 15th January 2018.

*My thanks to Orenda and Anne Cater for an advance copy of this novel and for the opportunity to take part on the Blog Tour*

Don't miss out on any of the stops on the Blog Tour! 


Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie, Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. 

Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.


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