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Molly Southbourne #1

The Murders of Molly Southbourne

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Every time she bleeds a murderer is born. Experience the horror of Tade Thompson's The Murders of Molly Southbourne.

The rule is simple: don't bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she's been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she'll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

122 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 3, 2017

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About the author

Tade Thompson

54 books1,111 followers
Tade Thompson is a British born Yoruba psychiatrist who is best known for his science fiction novels.

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5 stars
1,224 (22%)
4 stars
2,391 (44%)
3 stars
1,376 (25%)
2 stars
325 (6%)
1 star
65 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,057 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
3,868 reviews69.2k followers
August 6, 2018
We all bleed, right?
Yes. Yes, we do.


So. This is an addictively creepy little short(ish) story about a girl named Molly Southbourne.
And it's weird as fuck. Like, the premise makes no sense and it shouldn't work, but it totally does.
Every time Molly bleeds a doppelganger intent on killing her rises up from a hole in the ground.
WTF? <--is what you're probably thinking.


But if you are even slightly intrigued by the idea that someone might spend their entire life killing themselves over and over again? Then you won't regret spending your time on this one.
128 pages. Give it a shot.
Profile Image for Riley.
424 reviews20.8k followers
June 27, 2021
i finally found a 5 star "doppelgänger" book !!!!
this was wild
Profile Image for Hannah.
588 reviews1,045 followers
February 6, 2018
I read this in two sittings. That might not sound impressive due to its shortness, but I hardly ever read books, however short, this quickly. But I could not put this down, I needed to keep reading, and I needed to see where Tade Thompson would take this story next. He takes an already brilliant premise and then manages to make the execution an allegory for growing up female in a way that I found surprising. He does not shy away from from the most disturbing parts of his premise (like: what happens to the mollys born when Molly is very young?) and the phrase "a slow growing molly" gave me actual chills.

I don't read horror often (or at all) but this had me craving more which is quite possibly the highest praise I can think of. While not without its flaws (the novella format does limit the length), I cannot WAIT for the next book in this series to drop. I need to know more about this world and mostly about Molly's mother, who I found highly interesting and not quite fleshed out enough.

First sentence: "I wake into a universe defined by pain."

PS: I did have nightmares because of this, make of that what you will.

You can find this review and other thoughts on my blog.
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
January 23, 2018
my very first monthly horror box from pagehabit!!

and for the first time ever with seeecret subscription boxes, i already had the book inside, but now i get to give my old, unannotated copy to greg as a halloween prezzie! and i get to hog for myself all the author notes and the booklet of deleted scenes, and a short story by Carmen Maria Machado as well as a bloody shower curtain(!!!!!!) and a bookmark and a library card pillow case and a little plastic pumpkin keychain that does this

while making a noise like EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! best halloween mailday ever!
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,372 reviews1,420 followers
October 29, 2017
The Murders of Molly Southbourne is a short story about a girl who is born with a horrifying condition. Whenever she bleeds, the blood changes into a homicidal version of herself that won't stop until it, or Molly, is dead.

"The rules are simple. 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. Molly recites the lines to herself many times." pg 24.

I'm not sure I understood what the author was going for with this short story.

Yes, what happens to Molly is horrific. I guess I didn't make the connection between what was happening to her and the broader meaning the story was reaching towards.

Because it was certainly reaching: "She cannot stand children. They remind her of the mollys, with their innocence and their half-formed personalities, and she expects them to burst into violence any minute. They never do, but they might." pgs 63-64

Or, beyond the death-through-your-children angle, I could use this story to consider the futility of life itself. "How is it that humans bleed so much? Or maybe Molly herself bleeds more than the average human. The rule are useless, an attenuation at best. Lifeblood escapes all the time, minor hemorrhages, a little a day. Maybe that is how we age. Maybe that is how we die." pg 91

It is creepy and could fit the bill if you're looking for one more short and spooky pre-Halloween read. I just didn't connect with it.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
March 21, 2018
This is a very nice genre-bender, parts SF, Fantasy, and Horror, all surrounding the multiple instances of Molly every time she bleeds. Each time rising from the ground or floor to become a complete copy of herself.

This isn't a humorous novella, however. Indeed, the creep-factor is turned up rather high. Every time a duplicate comes up, she's forced to murder herself.

It works well on several levels. The literal is bad enough, managing to reach over to normalcy while being very horrific, but when it becomes a metaphor, a branching out into anything we must murder within ourselves, it also works wonderfully. It might be a desire or a drive, an orientation or even just a natural preference or religious observation...

And yet it still works. :)

And it works very well as a straight horror, too. Being all-out creepy and disturbing is the name of the game. A subtext isn't necessary to enjoy this. Just figuring out who is narrating should keep anyone endlessly fascinating.

Self-examination is a real horrorshow. :)
Profile Image for Michelle .
241 reviews72 followers
June 18, 2022
The Murders of Molly Southbourne is a quick, unique tale about a girl whose blood spawns evil doppelgangers. If I had to put it into a subgenre I would call it Philosophical horror. Is that a thing? Probably.

With each failure, each insult, each wound to the psyche, we are created anew.

I enjoyed the tone and atmosphere of this book, and I'll definitely pick up the second in the series.
Profile Image for Paul.
Author 113 books8,148 followers
August 9, 2017
Tor.com is killing it with their novella line. I loved this. So strange and well-written and well-conceived. I read it in one sitting (when I wasn't planning to).
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,137 reviews235 followers
October 3, 2017
💉 Halloween Haemorrhage Book! 💉

Trigger Warning: self harm

Molly Southbourne's parents teach her four very important rules:
"If you see yourself, run.
Don't bleed.
Blot, burn, bleach.
Find a hole, find your parents.

Sorry, but that's about all you're getting from me about The Murders of Molly Southbourne. If I tell you any more than what you read in the book's blurb I'm going to spoil the story for you.

This novella is a quick read and I needed to keep reading to find out how it was all going to be resolved. There's a nice twist and potential for another book. I'm usually a fan of endings that don't form question marks above my head but for Molly I really feel the ambiguity of what happens after the final sentence works in its favour. Having said that, should there be another Molly/molly book I would be interested.

Despite rule #2, there is a fair bit of bloodshed in this book so if you've got a case of haemophobia and an overactive imagination, buyer beware. It's in context with the storyline and I didn't feel it was gratuitous at all.

There was one section that really annoyed me because it didn't feel like it belonged in or added any value to the story.
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,310 followers
October 17, 2017

I thought this was striking and scary as a novella, but it concluded feeling a bit incomplete. As much as I loved the entire middle section as a story of Molly and the other mollys, I felt like the framing device for the novella itself was a bit weak and it made the entire thing a bit unbalanced. But overall, if you’re looking for a super creepy, quick read, I would still recommend this one.

TW: self harm, cutting, suicidal thoughts, body horror

Thanks to Tor.com for sending along a copy of this to me in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,862 reviews1,897 followers
July 2, 2019
A near-enough future novella that blends the horror inherent in a mutating, collapsing Earth and the human response to it with the species-level will to live no matter what.

I was utterly sucked into the narrative early on:
An example has aspects of a thing, but is that the thing itself? The mollys have aspects of Molly, but that doesn't make them Molly, does it?

I'm not going to tell you what mollys are because this is a very difficult concept to get across. I want the whole reading experience to be as full and rich for you as it was for me. And I want to encourage you to spend $3.99 on a novella of surpassing strangeness, violence, and transcendent oddness.

What isn't odd, though sometimes is transcendent, is Author Tade's writing. He finds angles and corners where others don't look, or if they look don't see.
Her shoes wait in formation for her feet to quicken them.
Alarms are going off like the mating calls of robotic insects.
As she cuts the cadavers on the slabs, she realizes there is no sense to be made out of life.

With the exception of one, and only one, hideous and disfiguring instance of the w-bomb, the text is chillingly, even eerily, smooth and flawless. It resembles in its affect the narrative monologues of Rod Serling. You know the point is there, you can see it rising like the number Pi above foggy lowlands of text, but it shifts and your gaze has to slip away from it as you negotiate the steps of the ziggurat.

Climb, I urge you; the view is fine and the journey's toll is just the beginning of a quest.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,028 reviews2,805 followers
January 16, 2021
3.5 Stars
The concept behind this novella was incredibly imaginative. This story reads like a tragedy, examining the psychological effects of living with such an unusual medical ailment. While more weird than outright scary, there are still some visceral and disturbing scenes in this little book.
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
920 reviews3,023 followers
April 8, 2022
Murders of Molly Southbourne is a novella about doppelgängers and blood. Yes, and it's extremely graphic and strange in the nicest possible way.

It's a vivid and strange novel about trauma, about having no choice but to be a threat to oneself, and about attempting to control something that's both very intimate and horribly unexplainable. Not to mention the writing style, which was engrossing and inventive, putting a fresh spin on classic tropes and themes. Because the book is only 80 pages long, I won't explain much about the plot because everything I say will be deemed a spoiler. So go into this story with no assumptions, and I hope you enjoy it.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,198 reviews
September 19, 2019
I really liked this one despite the story being downright bizarre.

It's about a girl who has to avoid bleeding because if she does a duplicate of herself is created from the blood and is intent on killing her!

The strength of the main character Molly kept me interested and made this work so well.

It's short, brutal and absorbing.

Profile Image for Justine.
1,112 reviews301 followers
March 6, 2018
Gripping and creepy. I loved the writing style and the compact yet complete storytelling Thompson accomplished here. I'm definitely up to read more by him.
Profile Image for lee_readsbooks .
388 reviews58 followers
August 30, 2019
"The rules are simple. If you see a girl that looks like you, run and fight. Don't bleed. If you bleed, blot, burn, and bleach. If you find a hole, find your parents. "

Such an original concept I was disappointed the story ended so abruptly. I will definitely be reading more by this author.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,057 reviews353 followers
October 4, 2017
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t bleed.

I really enjoyed this, and despite it only being a novella I found the story incredibly well written and unique in its concepts.
Ever since she can remember Molly has watched herself die, hundreds of times. Whenever she bleeds, a ‘molly’ is born. Her twin in every way. Except all the mollys want to do is kill Molly. And as she grows, the mollys do too - and they get better at fighting back.

I’m amazed at how much detail the author managed to pack into this novella. Molly is a deeply complex, intelligent character with a rich background. I warmed to her plight immediately, and enjoyed the relationship she shares with her parents, as they fight to preserve her secret, and later with the people she meets at college. I thought she was well developed, and in essence also deeply flawed. I’ve never really read a character quite like her, and I loved her for it. Her emotion, or lack thereof, at certain points throughout the story really appealed to me. Her parents come across as deeply loving and obviously protective of Molly, yet also allow her a certain degree of independence in a world which would never accept her if they knew what Molly was capable of.

The plot itself is also extremely interesting. Molly’s exploration into why she can produce the ‘mollys’ was great, and the fast pace kept me entertained right until the end. Although wrapped up well, there were also several points hinted at near the end of the story that were left unanswered, and if the author so desired, I would love to see Molly again and learn about the wider world in which she inhabits.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,886 followers
October 4, 2017
This was amazing. I mean, glom-in-a-sitting, cold-sweat, 'going to have to buy the whole backlist now' amazing. What a terrifying, imaginative, scary ride.

The premise is deceptively simple and weird: when Molly bleeds, it generates an identical copy of herself which after a short time becomes murderously determined to kill her. This is fun when her periods start. At first Molly's parents kill the mollies, and teach her self defence; as she grows, the mollies become more cunning and powerful, and start to self organise. It's terrifying, and the book is partly about this dreadful looming threat with bursts of extreme violence, and partly the result of all this on Molly's psyche.

The backstory/hinterland to all this is very lightly sketched in and I will admit, I'm not entirely sure if there's a message/metaphor here or what it is if so, but as a thoroughly compelling, weird experience this novella is unbeatable. Get your Halloween terror here.
Profile Image for Roz.
668 reviews187 followers
February 26, 2018
“Words used to be homework, a chore, but books make words do magic tricks.”

What a strange and creepy book. This has such an original concept, I’ve never read anything like this before.. and I also haven’t been so disturbed by a book in a long time.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,248 reviews218 followers
March 5, 2018
Deeply unsettling and horrific in parts, this novella follows the life of Molly Southborne whose spilt blood generates doppelgangers bent on destroying Molly herself. Much of the horror comes because these doppelgangers seem to have been happening since she was a baby, painting an interesting picture of Molly's parents and what they've been doing to get her this far.

Ultimately it's all a fairly horrible philosophical metaphor made real, which makes for a predictable ending if you're familiar with the metaphor being referred to.

It's great writing, deeply creepy and evocative, but really not for me.
Profile Image for lucky little cat.
546 reviews102 followers
January 30, 2019
Pitch-perfect creepy novella, where the young heroine unintentionally produces a murderous doppelgänger every time she bleeds.

Science prodigy Molly doesn't mean to be threatening. But that doesn't mean she's not a menace. And since she's also cursed with a healthy sense of decency, she has to figure out what to do about herself. (Not unlike the reader's cursed dilemma: what will I do when I run out of Tade Thompson books to read? Must. read. more. slowly.)

Thompson's such an intelligent writer I could never guess what would happen next in this story, and I'm still walking around thinking about it. Extra love to Thompson for creating Molly's über-educated off-the-grid parents who are ever supportive of her and teach her survival (and coping, containment, and housekeeping) skills.
Profile Image for Mindi.
797 reviews264 followers
April 9, 2018
If you see yourself, run.
Don't bleed.
Blot, burn, bleach.
Find a hole, find your parents

Molly Southbourne creates a perfect copy of herself every time she bleeds. Regardless of how much she bleeds or why (monthly periods, for instance) Molly creates another Molly every time she spills a drop of her own blood. And while the Mollys are initially docile and friendly, they soon become killing machines, bent on murdering their creator.

Molly's family has been dealing with Molly's condition since she was born, and because they live on an isolated farm, they are able to coach Molly on how to prevent making new Mollys and how to dispose of the ones she cannot avoid creating. If Molly bleeds, she needs to blot up the blood, burn the towels, and then bleach the area. However that may not be enough. She then needs to search for holes on the property, because holes are where the Mollys are born.

Being a farmer, her father has extensive knowledge on butchering that he teaches to Molly. Once she's on her own in the world she will need to know how to dispose of all the extra Mollys. And her mother has fighting and survival skills that suggest a different life in her past than being just a farmer's wife. Molly learns much from her parents, and after a time she decides that she is capable of taking care of the Mollys herself, so she goes off to college and leaves her family for the first time.

But her parents made a mistake years ago that will eventually catch up with them while Molly is away, and she will learn more about herself and her condition during her time away from the farm too. Because Molly doesn't just create other Mollys. There are other consequences of her condition that she never even dreamed of.
Profile Image for Jo.
196 reviews31 followers
March 9, 2018
Fascinating and super creepy story of a girl who generates doppelgangers (hellbent on killing her) whenever she bleeds. Writing style is clear, oftentimes matter-of-fact, and makes for a very intriguing read.

Finished the book and feeling very unsettled and slightly uncomfortable.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,074 reviews222 followers
March 12, 2018
Well that was creepy AF!
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,693 reviews855 followers
July 24, 2022
I hate that I left this unread on my tbr for so long. Short little horror stories like this are my jam. It was bizarre and enticing and I loved it.

Trigger warnings for .

BlogTrigger Warning DatabaseStoryGraph
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books687 followers
February 10, 2021
I flew through this at first. I was so caught up in the weirdness and how her life worked out. I sort of wish we'd left it more or less at that? The attempt to ground it, the infodump at the end and the chaotic ending felt a bit tacked on. I think Tade does great with fleshed out, non-traditional characters and weird settings.


Profile Image for moni.
41 reviews14 followers
July 15, 2021
This book is bloody amazing! 💉 one of my most favorite reads this year indeed!!! I never reread a book but I'd love to reread this one!
Profile Image for Cassie Daley.
Author 8 books202 followers
February 5, 2022
REREREAD 2/4/22: The 3rd & final book in the series comes out the May & Tor sent me an ARC, so you'd better believe I'm rereading the first two! SO GOOD.

REREAD 10/31/19: I wish I could give this novella more than 5 stars. Seriously, READ IT.


I absolutely loved this novella - way more than I expected to! The premise about a young girl who has to repeatedly kill clones of herself that are born from her shedding blood (in any way - papercuts, pulled teeth, Aunt Flow, etc!) caught my attention, but it was the writing and Molly's character herself that had me glued to my Kindle until I finished.

The story isn't very long - around 120 pages total - but it packs a pretty good punch. I loved how intelligent Molly is, how strong her voice was. The juxtaposition of the gore and violence against Molly's intellect was at times jarring - but in a good way!

I would have loved more information on Molly's parents - especially her mother, who was such an interesting character with a really cool backstory that was unfortunately summarized without enough detail in a letter toward the end of the book (and left me wanting more).

Overall, I'd definitely recommend it and am looking forward to the second in the series!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,057 reviews

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