cover image The Murders of Molly Southbourne

The Murders of Molly Southbourne

Tade Thompson., $11.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9713-3

In Thompson’s chilling novella, Molly Southbourne has an unusual problem: when she bleeds, a copy of her is made, and it eventually turns murderous, forcing her to kill it. There are precautions she can take, and from the time she’s a little girl, growing up on a farm with her mother and father, she’s taught how to deal with her blood when it escapes her body. The rules are thus: “If you see a girl who looks like you, run and fight. Don’t bleed. If you bleed, blot, burn, and bleach. If you find a hole, find your parents.” The psychological implications of a child having to kill identical copies of herself (called mollys) is nightmarish, but otherwise Molly thrives, and eventually she heads out on her own. She attends college and attempts to use sex as a balm, hoping to find meaning in her existence. At a particularly grim point, she calls the rules “useless, an attenuation at best.” Thompson (Rosewater) ratchets up the body count, but this isn’t just gore for gore’s sake; there is a real aching sadness in Molly’s isolation, and when she discovers a possible explanation for her condition, it does nothing to assuage her hopelessness. This bloody exploration of identity and self in a changed world will stay with readers long after they finish the last page. (Oct.)