Dead Relatives review: Brilliantly atmospheric and relentlessly creepy

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Deceased parents by Lucie McKnight Hardy is a collection of ghoulish stories that follows Hardy’s first bestselling novel The water will refuse them.

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

In the title story, a young girl called Iris lives in a big house with her mom, in what turns out to be a place where young women who are pregnant out of wedlock can have their children and get them adopted.

This uncomfortable setup is typical of Hardy’s stories, and it provides the drip reader with disturbing information as the plot takes a much darker turn, leaving the reader with chills down their spines.

There is certainly a whisper of Shirley Jackson in the damp and spooky atmosphere that pervades these stories. Many take place in dark locations that mirror the psyche of Hardy’s predominantly female protagonists.

Her central characters often struggle with motherhood, terrible husbands, or a loss of sense of self – and trying to find a way out. Sometimes some sort of dark revenge is achieved, like Resting Bitch Face or The Pickling Jar, but Hardy doesn’t shy away from difficult conclusions either.


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