Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh is the type of novel that, upon finishing, had me mentally throwing the book across the room screaming “What. The!” We are stuck in the mind of a judgmental, fat-phobic, psychologically-abused widow who is so damn lonely and isolated that you end up questioning the whole damn novel. No thank you.
To make matters worse, the narrative is not stream-of-consciousness nor is it the ramblings of someone who is mentally ill. I might be able to appreciate it more because at least I know that we are literally in the narrator’s mind. Instead, we have to listen to this omniscient narrator who may or may not be unreliable. We just don’t know because the ending is so nebulous.
Even more disappointing, the note that the narrator finds within the opening sentences is nothing more than a lure to get you to read the story. Once the narrator starts down the road of imagining her own murder mystery surrounding the note, you understand that no one will find out the note’s origins or validity. Then again, by the end, you wonder whether the note ever truly existed.
I feel duped having read Death in Her Hands. Maybe it is my own fault for not understanding what metaphysical suspense is, but there is literally no point to this story, in my opinion at least. It is not a murder mystery nor is there a satisfactory conclusion, let alone any conclusion. The only suspense comes from a dawning realization that our narrator may not be as trustworthy as we initially think. Other reviewers point out that this is a typical Ottessa Moshfegh novel. If so, I don’t think she is the author for me.