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Death in Her Hands

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  7,467 ratings  ·  1,439 reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published June 23rd 2020 by Penguin Press
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Luke Mosher Everything toward the end could be delusional or metaphorical, but the simplest answer is that the dog was bitten by something and became rabid. The…moreEverything toward the end could be delusional or metaphorical, but the simplest answer is that the dog was bitten by something and became rabid. The description of Charlie is classic rabies--unresponsive, drooling, attacks. A little earlier in the book the neighbors mention this as a possibility, so it's in the book, and seems to me the likeliest explanation. (less)
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Malaika Kegode I feel like this question should be spoiler tagged...

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Average rating 3.22  · 
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Michelle
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
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 note:

"Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body."

However, there is no body and Vesta becomes completely obsessed in solving the mystery
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Robin
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Is there nothing this woman can't do?

Death in Her Hands, Ottessa Moshfegh's newest novel, takes the cozy mystery genre and stands it on its head. Takes what Agatha Christie and her lot do so well, and goes six feet under that. Deeply examining life, death, grief. Regrets, resentment, anger. All that uncomfortable stuff.

The book opens with a cryptic note found in the woods by a 72-year-old woman, Vesta, walking her dog: Her name was Magda. No one will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here
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Beata
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Despite the title, I somehow did not expect to read a book dealing with a murder of a woman, not to mention a capture of a culprit. For me, the story of a 72-year-old widow who moved to a small town of Levant, New England, and lives in a modest cabin with a dog, Charlie, whom she gave a forever home, is a story of loneliness and bitterness she suffered in her life. The note found during one of the walks with Charlie becomes the opening to her speculations on whether there wasreally a murder ...more
Blair
I reviewed this for Sublime Horror. Read the full review here: Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh review an easier book to admire than enjoy

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(3.5) Initially, I thought Ottessa Moshfegh was toning down her usual style with what seems like a deliberately bland narrative voice. Vesta is a widow in her seventies who's recently moved to a lakeside cabin in non-specific small-town America. One morning, while taking her beloved dog Charlie for a walk, she finds a strange note on the ground. It
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Meike
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
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 it: "Here name was Magda. Nobody will ...more
Maxwell
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Things might be theoretical, that was true. I may be imagining it all, but it still hurt. It was still sad to lose someone you loved."

Vesta is a 72 year old, dog-owning loner. She's recently moved cross-country after the death of her husband. One day on a walk in the woods she stumbles upon a note: "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body."

Except, there is no dead body present. With this incident, Vesta sets out on a murder mystery, more
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Read By RodKelly
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
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Marchpane
Death in Her Hands begins intriguingly, when a woman finds a note in the woods: Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasnt me. Here is her dead body.

But theres no body, just the note, weighted down with little rocks. Vestathe 72-year-old widow who discovered itfancies herself a sleuth and becomes obsessed with Magda but her investigation resembles a creative writing exercise: she simply invents the suspects and circumstances leading to Magdas death. Vesta admits that
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Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
While the concept of this story sounded right up my alley, it left much to be desired because the entire novel that I sped through because it is gripping despite its lack of plot is simply Vestas stream of consciousness as she ponders who Magda was, who killed her, what her past was like, etc.

From the moment Vesta finds this note, there is no actual progression of the plot from there, onwards. There is no real mystery or overlying darkness to this story that is gripping but makes one wonder why
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Elyse  Walters
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Audiobook....read by Ann Marie Lee

I like Ottessa Moshfegh....born the same year - 1981- as my older daughter.

The first book I read ( rather listened to), was Eileen....(shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize). I couldnt pull away. I thought I had never read anything more gut wrenching grim ....but damn, if it wasnt fascinating - in my entire life. I became an instant fan..

Given how successful listening to the audiobook of Eileen....
I chose the audiobook- again - with My Year of Rest and
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Ceecee
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seventy two year old widowed Vesta Gul is out walking her dog Charlie in Levant, New England when she finds a curious note on the ground held down by little black rocks. It says Her name is Magda. No one will ever know who killed her. It wasnt me. Here is her dead body. Who wrote the note? Who is Magda? Vesta ponders on the conundrum and tries to solve it.

First of all, this is a very well written story with good descriptions and Vestas isolation in the woods in a dilapidated cabin are well
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Roman Clodia
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a rather dark, damning way to begin a story: the pronouncement of a mystery whose investigation is futile. Nobody will ever know who killed her. The story is over just as it's begun. The note certainly didn't promise any happy ending.

So, what's with the synchronicities between this and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead? Both feature a reclusive old woman living in the woods; give prime significance to a dog; riff on the murder mystery genre; use Blake (albeit in different ways);
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Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
Oy vey

I read Eileen years ago and didn't like it, but then I picked up My Year of Rest and Relaxation last year and LOVED it. So, I was wary but excited to receive Death in Her Hands as an ARC.

I didn't enjoy it, at all. It was one long stream of consciousness of an old and lonely lady making up stories and scenarios in her head. The premise of the book was great, but it just didn't deliver. That ending was the final nail in the coffin for a 1 star review.
ALet
★★ /5
It was not for me, but interesting enough to keep me reading. It was an interesting character study, but being in her head all the time was a little bit too much. Also, it was a little bit confusing and hard to keep track of what was happening.
Samantha
Nov 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
A meandering, inane plot that goes nowhere, a pet murder, and one of the most unlikable protagonists Ive ever encountered.

Moshfegh writes SO beautifully that is seems like it should be impossible for any of her work to have such poor results, yet here we are.

I loved My Year of Rest and Relaxation. It made me think Moshfegh could do no wrong. Then I read MGlue and wasnt thrilled with it. I was hoping that this book would be more on par with Rest and Relaxation, but instead found it to be the
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Emily B
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for a copy of this novel.

Ottessa Moshfegh novels all seems quite different to each other and this is no exception. While I enjoy Moshfeghs writing style and flew through this book, overall I neither hated it or loved it.

The novel consists of a rambling stream of consciousness of the unreliable protagonist and her wild imagination.
I have to admit that I was sort of waiting for this to stop and something more concrete to emerge which it didnt quite.
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Barbara
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think I expected too much, given all the publicity, from Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh. This is not a novel for just anyone. One must enjoy quiet contemplation of a woman slowly losing her grip on reality.

The story begins when Vesta, our protagonist, finds a note in the woods while walking her beloved dog. The note reads Her name was Magna. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasnt me. Here is her dead body. There is no body, nothing rotting, no evidence of foul play. If I saw
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Gumble's Yard
Jun 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Published today 27/08/2020

Eileen meets Janina, as Ottessa goes meta.

Mystery was an artless genre, that much was obvious. Not that the more literary novels I had borrowed from the library seemed any more inspired. What got put on the library shelves was all the stuff that wont surprise you. Blakes invitation, or poem, I could call it, wouldnt have made it onto anybodys nightstand: it was too weird. Her name was Magda. What kind of opening was that? An editor would deem the note too dark to
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Matthew Quann
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
With artists we love, it's bound to happen: a piece that doesn't live up to the unrealistic expectations we've placed on their work.

Moshfegh's electrifying writing in her previous short story collection and two novels (all five-star reads from me) catapulted her to rarefied "buy-on release" status. So, last week I took myself to the pandemic precaution-laden book store and paid cover price for Death in Her Hands. I polished off the books I was reading and cleared my schedule for some
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Matthew
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not too far back my family liked to frequent a local seafood restaurant, often waited upon by a dude named Chris. Where Chris lacked in service efficiency (to be fair, the kitchen ran slow; hardly his fault) he made up for in charm and rugged good looks so much so my wife (a BIG fan) and I began to refer to him as Handsome Chris when outside of the restaurants confines.

As our interactions with Handsome Chris increased so too did our perception about him. Hed intimate subtle details of his
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Lisa
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
A dark and haunting novel of a woman on the edge of reality.


SUMMARY

Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasnt me. Here is her dead body

A seventy-two year old widow finds this sinister note on her morning walk through the birch trees near her cabin. It was written in blue ink on a page of lined paper from a spiral notebook and was weighted down by black rocks. There is no body, but our narrator, Vesta is shaken and determined to create a personification for Magda and
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Jillian Doherty
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was elated to discover we have a new Ottessa novel coming this spring!!

I may have an author crush on her - I'd read a grocery store list if she wrote it ;)

I feel like most of her stories have an essence of other authors...
Eileen was very Shirley Jackson
Rest and Relaxation was Chuck Palahniuk
Death in Her Hands is a combo of Olga Tokarczuk's Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, and the inventive story telling that hearkened from Girl on the Train!

I could have read another 100 pages if
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Trudie
As a veteran of only one other Moshfegh novel - the blackly comic My Year of Rest and Relaxation- a book I ended up loving ( Dr Tuttle ! ). I had hoped for a similar reaction to this new ( or as it turns out, not so new ) novel.

Sadly, this is a rather bland affair and I am afraid I have to rubber-stamp it with the word "meh". There is nothing inherently bad about this book, I still retain an affection for Moshfegh's writing style but this does feel like an early manuscript that was placed in a
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Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
3.5 stars

Death in Her Hands is my first Moshfegh novel and it did not disappoint!  

"It would be a very strange thing to see, some old woman in her dusty coat grasping Death in her hands and whistling into the forest."

72-year-old Vesta is walking through the woods with her dog when she finds a very matter-of-fact note on the ground:

"Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body."

Yet there is no body to be discovered in the forest.  The lonely widow
...more
Jill
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Living inside the head of a 72-year-old isolated woman whose mind is rapidly deteriorating can be decidedly claustrophobic especially when that woman has endured a lifetime of boredom, a condescending husband, and a self-imposed isolation. How well you relate to this concept will determine how satisfied you ultimately are with Ottessa Moshfeghs latest book.

Consider this: you are walking through the woods with your dog Charlie and you come across a note that says, Her name was Magda. Nobody will
...more
Ylenia
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.25

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early e-copy of Death in Her Hands, the newest release of one of my favorite authors - Ottessa Moshfegh.

"Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasnt me. Here is her dead body."

This is the note the main character, Vesta, a 72-years-old woman, finds one day while she's out in the woods walking her dog.
This is the start of one the best/worst mind trips I've ever had the pleasure to read.

This book took me back to the time I read
...more
Krista
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, arc, netgalley
I didn't want to be wandering around Levant once night fell. It would be a very strange thing to see, some old woman in her dusty coat grasping Death in her hands and whistling into the forest. Ghod, on his way to the party, would surely stop to ask if I'd lost my mind.

Death in Her Hands is (no surprises here, coming as it does from the singular mind of Ottessa Moshfegh) weirdly experimental and oddly affecting. Whereas Moshfegh's previous bestsellers (Eileen and My Year of Rest and Relaxation
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Robert
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasnt me. Here is her dead body.

Say what you want about Ottessa Moshfegh but she certainly knows how to create a great opening for a novel.

The lines in question are from a note that the main protagonist Vesta Gul discovers while walking her dog charlie. She then makes it a mission to try discover who Magdas killer is and where the body was placed. The problem is that the note is the one and only clue.

Death in Her Hands is what I call a
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truedeceiver
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dark and twisted. A woman come undone in the wilderness. Haunted by many ghosts. Pursued by a mystery. The mind is a terrible wonderful thing and Moshfegh knows it very well.
Joseph
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first line of "Death in Her Hands" presents us with a challenge or puzzle: Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasnt me. Here is her dead body.

This enigmatic confession/defence is anonymously handwritten on a note left in the woods outside the New England town of Levant. It is discovered by Vesta, a seventy-two-year-old widow who has recently moved to a cabin in the area, following the death of her husband Walter. Vesta Gul (pronounced like the ocean bird) leads a
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Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from New England. Her first book, McGlue, a novella, won the Fence Modern Prize in Prose and the Believer Book Award. She is also the author of the short story collection Homesick for Another World. Her stories have been published in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Granta, and have earned her a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Plimpton Discovery ...more

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