The Monster and The Magpie, a review by Joanna

posted in: Joanna | 0

The Monster and the Magpie

Brianna Fenty

Published on April 24th, 2023

Bloodhound Books

343 pages


This is, frankly, the most disturbing book I’ve read in years. I can’t say I wasn’t warned – described as a “dark literary thriller”, the blurb includes the phrase “a gruesome game of cat and mouse” but I wasn’t prepared for the depravity featured. I do disagree with the tagline suggesting it’s “perfect for fans of Killing Eve”, because while it does feature similar amount of shocks and gore, it has none of the charm or humour that characterised the TV series. (I haven’t read the Villanelle books so can’t compare them.) I therefore recommend proceeding with caution unless you like your thrillers nasty.

Hope Rippa is a glamorous personal shopper by day, but by night she becomes The Magpie, efficient procurer of tools and props for Europe’s most discerning serial killers. Her best client, and ex lover, Father Killian Glass, masquerades as a devout rescuer of lost souls and broken birds, but only Hope knows who he really is. She is prepared to turn a blind eye to keep her own secrets, but now Killian is targeting those close to her, and Hope doesn’t know why – can she stop him before becoming his latest victim?
This is told in third person past style, but mostly from Hope’s perspective. I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to sympathise with her plight – I didn’t. She’s selfish, cold, vain and bitchy, and there’s no excuse for her behaviour. I felt quite uncomfortable with the way Killian is portrayed as irresistible despite his overt sadism and cruelty – initially it seemed his victims may have earned their fates but it soon becomes clear that he targets complete innocents for his sick twisted games. I contemplated abandoning this as too dark for me, but wanted to know how things turned out. Did I enjoy the book? No. Was it well written? Certainly. I liked the unusual Icelandic setting, dramatic cover art, and unpredictable plot, although I’m not sure about the ending – did the characters deserve their final fate? I’m not sure. 3.5 rounded up for the elegant and atmospheric writing.

Note, two pet cats feature in the story but apart from being left alone or abandoned, nothing bad happens to them and I prefer to think that they were happily rehomed. I can offer no such reassurance about the human characters.

Thanks to Bloodhound Books for the ARC.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *