Books

Dead Relatives review: Brilliantly atmospheric and relentlessly creepy

The follow up to Lucie McKnight Hardy's debut novel is an exemplary collection of modern horror, writes Doug Johnstone.

Dead Relatives by Lucie McKnight Hardy is out now.

Dead Relatives by Lucie McKnight Hardy is a collection of macabre stories that follows Hardy’s successful debut novel Water Shall Refuse Them.

The book of subtle horror tales shows a similar sense of creeping dread as it deals with grief and loss, motherhood and breakdown.

In the title story, a young girl called Iris lives in a big house with her mammy, in what is revealed as a place for young women pregnant outside of marriage to have their children and give them up for adoption.

This uncomfortable set-up is typical of Hardy’s stories, and she expertly drip-feeds the reader worrying information as the plot takes a much darker turn, leaving the reader with chills down their spine.

There is definitely a whisper of Shirley Jackson in the dank, creepy atmosphere that spreads across these stories. Many are set in bleak locations which mirror the psyches of Hardy’s mostly female protagonists.

Her central characters are often struggling – with motherhood, terrible husbands or a loss of sense of self – and trying to find a way through. Sometimes, a kind of bleak revenge is achieved, in the likes of Resting Bitch Face or The Pickling Jar, but Hardy doesn’t shirk from difficult conclusions either.

Dead Relatives is brilliantly atmospheric, deadly dark and relentlessly creepy, an exemplary collection of modern horror.

Dead Relatives by Lucie McKnight Hardy is out now (Dead Ink, £9.99)

@doug_johnstone

This article is taken from the latest edition of The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Top 5 books about state control, chosen by Icelandic author Fríða Ísberg
Books

Top 5 books about state control, chosen by Icelandic author Fríða Ísberg

Fighting for justice for women in a system that's rigged against them
Justice

Fighting for justice for women in a system that's rigged against them

One Grand Summer by Ewald Arenz review – an understated and empathetic coming-of-age story
Books

One Grand Summer by Ewald Arenz review – an understated and empathetic coming-of-age story

The Eyes Are The Best Part by Monika Kim review – tension-filled horror debut delivers
Books

The Eyes Are The Best Part by Monika Kim review – tension-filled horror debut delivers

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.