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 Innocent Explanation For All This Or A Much Sinister One One That Strikes Closer To HomeA 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 Thank you penguinpress for my free early copy of Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh This one did not disappoint, falling in between Eileen 3.5 and My Year of Rest and Relaxation 4.5 for me When Vesta finds a cryptic note about a dead girl called Magda in the woods near her home but no body, she becomes obsessed with solving this crime that may or may not have happened..There s an unnerving sense of claustrophobia being inside Vesta s head the entire novel Her thoughts run riot, each one branching off into a dozen new ones, all based on what if, what if, what if You end up losing track of what s real and what s merely a figment of a lonely old woman s imagination Anyone who has an anxious, overly active imagination will find Vesta somewhat relatable if I found a cryptic note in the forest like that my mind would jump to similar places, building up the most unlikely scenarios in my head until the thoughts were all consuming..There s also a pulsing undercurrent of tension running throughout, simple, single lines which, when you read them, make your heart jump into your throat Little things, like the thought of a home intruder invading your privacy, someone lingering in the shadows of the woods, just outside of your line of vision.As with all of Moshfegh s characters, there s a vein of darkness running through Vesta it seems like she takes pleasure at the thought of other people s discomfort, although only those she thinks are deserving of it in some way As her grip on reality slips, she starts to plumb the depths of her past, reflecting on her unfulfilled life with a manipulative and unfaithful husband I m still not sure where I stand on the ending, but ultimately it s a heartbreaking depiction of where a deteriorating mind might take you.An intense character study that gave me Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead vibes, I have a feeling this one will divide readers, but I loved it I have to be honest here and admit that I just didn t get this book Ottessa Moshfegh is so insanely talented as a writer but this book was utterly pointless We have a 72 year old woman a widow that lives in almost complete solitude with her dog, Charlie, in a cabin on a lake While out walking she finds a noteHer name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn t me Here is her dead bodyHowever, there is no body and Vesta becomes completely obsessed in solving the mystery of Magda She creates a complete back story on Magda, who she is, what she was like, to how her death came to be Going as so far as meeting strangers and giving them roles in her narrative Essentially this is a story being told within a story We all know that Ottessa embraces the oddball, eccentric, and unlikable characters quite well and she shines here with our dear Vesta She is also able to create a claustrophobic atmosphere and there are a couple downright creepy scenes but I needed than that to enjoy this Word of warning This woman HATES fat people and it s mentioned over and over and over again There is also killing of an animal which I personally could have lived without reading I have read the ending twice now and I am still trying to figure out the point I hate finishing a book and thinking that it was a complete waste of time but sadly that is how I feel here Maybe this is a meditation on loneliness and unfulfilled desires due to a domineering and unfaithful husband I don t know Eileen will remain a favorite of mine but I have yet to read anything else by this author that satisfies me even though I love her writing style 2 stars Thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Press for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. Ottessa Moshfegh has written a twisted, genre bending detective story Her protagonist Vesta Gul is a 72 year old widow who lives in a remote former girl scout camp with her dog Charlie But mind you, Vesta is no Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher rather, it becomes very clear early on that there is something psychologically wrong with this lonely female narrator who tells us that she found a mysterious slip of paper in the woods with the words scribbled on itHere name was Magda Nobody will ever know who killed her It wasn t me Here is her dead bodyThere is no dead body though, and the suspense of the whole novel relies on the question what really happened, in how far Vesta is delusional, what her delusions point at, and whether Moshfegh has broken the main rule of the murder mystery The detective and the murderer can t be the same person Vesta sets out to investigate what happened to Magda, but her conclusions mainly rely on projection her rambling thoughts, her restless mind and her obsession with the note seem to be driven by her lack of occupation and social contacts She constructs her own suspects and their backstories, gives them names, feels like she recognizes them in people she meets by accident, and we follow her further and further down the rabbit hole As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Vesta s deceased husband of almost four decades, Walter Gul, a German epistemologist with Turkish roots, did not treat her particularly well, and Vesta, who has Croatian roots, still hears his voice telling her what to think and do Now two fun facts 1 Vesta is the name of the Roman goddess of home, hearth, and family, 2 Moshfegh herself is half Croatian Throughout the text, we are trapped inside Vesta s mind, which leads to feelings of claustrophobia although the topic is completely different, the whole narrative experience is not unlike Milkman What fuels the story is Moshfegh s typical disregard for narrative conventions and her playfulnessMystery was an artless gernre, that much was obviousMany of Vesta s thoughts are darkly comic, and her ideas frequently point to wider concepts We have a potential victim called Magda Mary Magdalene and a potential perpetratator called Ghod which might be a reference to, of course, God, or mock deities, or authorities in general, or to Walter or just check out Urban Dictionary then there are two poems in there, one Vesta cannot identify it s W.B Yeats The Second Coming , the famous line Moshfegh does not quote but that applies here beingThings fall apart the center cannot hold, and the other William Blake s The Voice of the Ancient Bard plus lots of other puzzling stuff like childless Vesta s unsettling fixation on questions of abortion So all in all, Death in Her Hands has all the classic ingredients of Moshfegh s fiction, mainly the potential to disturb and challenge readers, and I love her daring, fearless, unusual writing This effort might prove to be quite divisive because the author refuses to leave the self imposed restrictions of her narrative voice, but I think that s also the special appeal of the story There is no outside of Magda, she lives entirely within her misaligned perceptions, and while immersed in this story, so do we, the readers. Oh, the terrible wonders of the mind Death in Her Hands is a dark layered novel that lulls the reader into the crumbling psyche of an incredibly lonely depressed protagonist, desperately trying to free her mind expunge the painful memories that she tries to bury within a labyrinth of half truths alternate history She is a woman powerless over her mind yet dependent on it to conjure a reality she can believe in that she can survive in At length, she reflects on a life of unfulfilled desire mourning her unrealized dreams, her unsatisfied yearnings, her squandered passion Recently widowed, she begins to register the hatred she felt for the deleterious, pompous academic she married, her dissatisfaction with the decades long monotony of life as a housewife may have caused her mind to deteriorate in deeper ways than she realizes For years she had been constructing alternate realities counterlives to combat the constant interia boredom she felt, now, in her old age, her mind is uncontrolled deranged, dangerous deceptive than she knows, being without the mental fortitude to comprehend her own deficiences In this novel, Ottessa Moshfegh returns to the dark, death reek of McGlue, crafting a meta murder mystery cum domestic drama, suffused with slowly built tension, dread fear It is all interiority murk, a story of imagination loosed, delusions, how ideas germinate, sprout become palpable, living things The author explores the imaginative s of senility, of an unwinding mind quite unsurprising if you ve followed her career to this point While this novel wasn t as transcendent a reading experience as the brilliant and perfect My Year of Rest and Relaxation, it is, nonetheless, a highly entertaining complex fifth offering from a writer I will stan forever.