Hatchet Girls

Hatchet Girls
Age Range
Release Date
October 10, 2023
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Set more than one hundred years after the Borden murders, this propulsive, supernatural thriller imagines what might happen if history were to repeat itself today. Perfect for fans of Kara Thomas and Courtney Summers!

When Mariella Morse accuses her boyfriend, Vik Gomez, of murdering her wealthy parents with an axe, the town is quick to believe her. It doesn’t help that Vik is caught standing over her parents’ bodies with blood on his hands, unable to remember anything about the night in question.

But Vik’s sister, Tessa, knows that Vik would never be capable of such a gruesome crime. Haunted by the mistakes she made that led her family to move to Fall River, MA in the first place, she sets out to prove her brother’s innocence.

Tessa’s search for answers will lead her into a sprawling, notoriously cursed forest, where she and Mariella must face a darkness that has lurked within their town since before the days of Lizzie Borden—the original axe murderess of Fall River.

Editor review

1 review
Lizzie Borden's Legacy Continues
Overall rating
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Tessa and Vik Gomez have encouraged their mother to move from Philadelphia to Fall River, Massachusetts after the death of their father. Tessa feels guilty for various reasons, and instead of going out to parties during her junior year, she opts to stay home. Her brother, a senior, is dating Mariella Morse, the daughter of local real estate magnates and the owners of the Lizzie Borden house in town. Mariella was raised alongside Phil, whose parents run the museum and hotel attached to the questionable tourist attraction. Phil is interested in Tessa, who keeps putting him off because of her vow to remain responsible. What the people in town don't know is the dark side of Mariella's family life; her father abuses her mother physically, and Mariella hates him so much that she plans his murder. She is descended from the Borden clan, and manages to harness the local questionable powers by creating a "tea" from herbs, roots, and moss found in the Freetown Woods, which is often referred to as the Cursed Forest. Drinking this tea has caused voices in her head that encourage her to kill her father. She has a plan; her father is allergic to penicillin, and she managed to get a vial of it from an elderly neighbor for whom she does errands. She plans to rope Vik into administering the shot. We see her plotting, but go back and forth from this time to the present. Vik has been found standing over the bodies of both of her parents, who have been violently killed with an axe. Vik is arrested, and his family from Philadelphia comes to help out. Vik's biological father is also in jail, so suspicion is high and Tessa has to deal with a lot of hatred. She knows her brother is not the violent type, and many things seem odd about his presence. With the help of Phil, and her cousin Oscar, she sets out to investigate the eerie history of the town and the Bordens, and its relationship to the murder. What really happened?

Good Points
This was a gruesome but fascinating Young Adult murder mystery that I feel comfortable handing to my middle grade readers. There is some talk of Mariella and Vik "hooking up" in the forest, but even I am not entirely sure what that means in this instance! There are some violent and bloody scenes, but the real killer is not entirely human, thanks to the supernatural component of the plot. There's no colorful language, but plenty of high school freedom to wander around town to investigate, as well as a deep dive into history of a "haunted" area.

The relationships between the main characters were also fascinating, and Phil's kind and supportive interest in Tessa took a bit of a dark turn, but I don't want to spoil things! The Gomez' family's close knit ties are evident when they drop everything to come to the side of Tessa and her mother, who are still reeling from the loss of the father. The light and reluctant romance with Phil adds some tension, and Mariella is a complicated character that elicits more sympathy than one would imagine.

This is a fantastic thriller to entice readers who can't get enough true crime information and like it flavored with a bit of the supernatural, although perhaps not exactly with the dirt and blood scented cocktail that Mariella concocts! Readalikes include Otis' At the Speed of Lies, Han's Running Past Dark, Johnson's Truly Devious series, and Monahan's Mary: The Summoning.
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