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Death in Her Hands: Book Review


Death in Her Hands is a 2020 novel by author Ottessa Moshfegh. 


Death in Her Hands follows Vesta Gul, a 72-year-old widow. One day while walking her dog Vesta she finds a note telling of a young girl named Magda who was murdered. Vesta becomes obsessed with the world of Magda leading her down a spiral of searching and insanity.  


Vesta: Vesta is the only main character in this novel. She is a widow haunted by the memory of her husband. She begins to experience independence and control for the first time in her life after discovering a note detailing the murder of Magda and lives vicariously through her imagined life. 


Vesta’s spiral into insanity is incredibly written, and while it lacks the action that readers may expect after reading Eileen, I believe the concentric storytelling was the perfect way to confuse readers and make them believe in Vesta’s delusions. Opposing what others may think, Death in Her Hands is not what I would consider a mystery novel (Check out Eileen if you want to read a mystery novel by Moshfegh). I believe Death in Her Hands is a psychological thriller- much like Frankenstein or Lolita, following an unreliable narrator who doesn’t quite see their faults in logic or character and convinces the reader to side with their faulty reasonings. Death in Her Hands could be the best-written novel by Moshfegh. It’s similar to My Year of Rest and Relaxation in the fact that nothing happens. The novel is carried by a diary-like storytelling of what is happening in Vesta’s head. 

Death in Her Hands could easily be considered a look at how isolation affects the mind to parallel the global quarantine happening the year the book was published. 

I loved the way the book sheds its layers toward the end. We spend so much time learning of Vesta’s traumas from life and how much she regrets it. We watch her try to take control for the first time ever by projecting a fictional life through Magda and changing the way she lives but in the end, she has a tragic ending spiralling into death, or possibly insanity. 

If you want to read an amazing book that I personally love you need to check out Death in Her Hands. I rate this book a 100/10. If you enjoyed My Year of Rest and Relaxation or Normal People you should check this book out. 

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About the Contributor
Ayanna Churcher
Ayanna Churcher, Staff Writer
I'm Ayanna, a staff writer for the Roseville Area High School Newspaper Club. I enjoy writing about school and community news. I'm a Junior and I like to go on hikes.

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