Can’t-Wait Wednesday #3 | Literary Fiction: Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings to spotlight the books we can’t wait to read. Typically, these books are yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was previously hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week, I’m spotlighting a literary work that’s been on my radar since February: Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh.

Death in Her Hands

Book Information

Title: Death in Her Hands
Ottessa Moshfegh
Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press
Expected Publication Date: April 21, 2020

Goodreads Synopsis

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 question everything 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 quickly 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 more innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home.

A 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.

Why I’m Excited for It

Moshfegh’s the kind of writer who can come up with all sorts of weird and socially unacceptable ideas for her novels and I’d just be like, “Cool, okay, count me in.” In Eileen (2015), Moshfegh succeeds in creating a vile and loathsome female protagonist that, for some reason, I still found engaging to read. In My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2019) (which I haven’t read but fully intend to), the narrator goes to extreme lengths to avoid life by putting herself under a drug-induced hibernation for a year. With Death in Her Hands, I’m very curious as to what “haunting metaphysical suspense” means, especially the “metaphysical” part. It looks like Moshfegh’s returning to the mystery/thriller vibe of Eileen but with a twist on a genre. I can’t wait to see how she’ll pull it off.

Is this work on your TBR? What book releases are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to leave a link to your own Can’t-Wait Wednesday post! I’d love to hear about it.

Find me on Goodreads!

8 thoughts on “Can’t-Wait Wednesday #3 | Literary Fiction: Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

      1. Oooh, the creepy child trope! That sounds right up my alley. I’m actually craving something creepy and unsettling right now, so I picked up Darling Rose Gold, but unfortunately it’s turning out to be neither creepy nor unsettling nor even mysterious. Maybe I’ll read this one instead. Thanks for the rec!

  1. Love this weekly meme! This sounds like such an intense, suspenseful and unusual novel. I can’t wait for Pandora Sykes’ debut book ‘How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right?’ which is a collection of essays on modern life.

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