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November 30, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

The Revenge List By Hannah Mary McKinnon Will Engross And Chill You- Review

The Revenge List By Hannah Mary McKinnon- Summary

Goodreads summary of The Revenge List by Hannah Mary McKinnon (review below):

They say life flashes before your eyes when you’re about to die. But all she could see was regret.

The people in Frankie Morgan’s life say she’s angry. Emotionally stunted. Combative. But really, who can blame her? It’s hard being nice when your clients are insufferable, your next-door neighbor is a miserable woman, and the cowardly driver who killed your mother is still out living it up somewhere.

Somehow, though, she finds herself at her very first anger-management group session—drinking terrible coffee and learning all about how “forgiveness is a process.”

One that starts with a list.

Frankie is skeptical. A list of everyone who’s wronged her in some way over the years? More paper, please. Still, she makes the pointless list—with her own name in a prominent spot—and promptly forgets about it…until it goes missing. And one by one, the people she’s named start getting hurt in freak accidents, each deadlier than the last.

Could it be coincidence giving her the revenge she never dared to seek…or something more sinister?

If Frankie doesn’t find out who’s behind it all, she might be next.

The Revenge List By Hannah Mary McKinnon- Review

Full disclaimer. I loved Hannah Mary McKinnon’s last book, Never Coming Home. Now I can say the following: I LOVED The Revenge List. One of the best parts of the plot is that, while the targeting of people on Frankie’s “Forgiveness” turned “Revenge” list is front and center, there are times when that is very subtle. It isn’t a straight shot of here is a list, and people are dying. The story is intricate and layered.

After making her list at an anger management class that was her Dad’s idea, the journal it is written in is stolen. And then it reappears. But it isn’t like people just start dropping dead after that. To give one example that doesn’t spoil the story- one of the guys on her list caused her to get kicked out of college. Now he’s a doctor, and her young niece is critically ill. In this capacity, his return to her life begs the question: can one change, and if so, can we let them do so?

Review

Thank you to HarperCollins/Harper Audio for an advanced copy of The Revenge List, which releases May 23rd.

Additionally, after having a run-in with another woman in a gas station while trying to race to the hospital for her niece, a video of the altercation went viral on youtube. Frankie takes time to word her message to the woman, and surprisingly (only because humanity no longer seems capable of owning up and forgiving), the other woman regrets her decision to put the video online. Understanding that Frankie was trying to get to her sick niece while admitting she wasn’t herself that day, she takes the video down.

What makes this piece so complex is that it isn’t that cut and dry with her niece’s doctor. Forgiveness is hard to find with him. Moreover, he is then attacked, leaving her niece in peril. These are the subtle ways McKinnon drives home a complex thriller that is also wrought with emotional truths that we all face.

These are just two pieces of a larger story that is as planted in reality as it is a suspenseful thriller. McKinnon drops you into the deep end from go. However, it simmers. It is like waiting for a pot of water to come to a boil. All these moving parts (both overt and subtle) are slowly bubbling until it boils over and explodes. Hannah Mary McKinnon manages to write a story that feels both like a slow burn and a rocket launcher simultaneously.

The Revenge List By Hannah Mary McKinnon- Characters

Hannah Mary McKinnon shines most around the development of the main characters. I won’t discuss some because discussing them in-depth would lead to significant spoilers. So, let’s start with the main character, Frankie. Suffering from the hit-and-run death of her mother when she was a teenager, Frankie has always had anger management issues. Additionally, she has had a lot of bad luck and misnomers placed on her.

Let’s all remember an important fact. Two things can be true at once. Does Frankie have impulse control issues when it comes to her anger? Yes. Is she also dealt bad hands by men sexually harassing her and being surrounded by annoying, dangerous people? Absolutely, yes. It would be easy to write off Frankie as a character, saying she makes poor and annoying choices. But the truth is that proper anger management is no easier to decide to control than an addiction. To write Frankie otherwise would bring the character to such a human level.

Hannah Mary McKinnon

Look for my interview with Hannah Mary McKinnon coming in May!

The complexity of Frankie’s emotions, poor choices (at times), and disappointment in herself makes her feel like someone you could know in your life. She knows she often disappoints her family and has a strained relationship with HERSELF, but don’t we all struggle with demons that get the better of us? McKinnon writes Frankie realistically and bravely. Rather than give her this character arc of improvement, McKinnon writes Frankie authentically, with all the messiness that comes with it. Because life is messy. People are messy.

The family dynamics with her family are just as intense and raw. For example, her father’s decision process often left much to be desired. His constant disappointment and lack of support (other than in ways HE felt were beneficial) didn’t make him the father of the year. But again, how rare is it to have a father of the year? But McKinnon balances that out with the relationship Frankie has with her brother, Rico. Rico, the constant bridge between Frankie and their Dad, is a position siblings are too often put into, and Mckinnon writes it with empathy and compassion.

The Revenge List By Hannah Mary McKinnon-Final Thoughts

The dark humor in The Revenge List and its snarky attitude are off-the-wall wicked. However, it lends itself to Frankie as a character, deepening our understanding of her coping mechanisms and providing laugh-out-loud moments.

This wasn’t a place to meet someone. Not for a hook-up or anything more consequential. We were in anger management sessions for God’s sake. I need to get a grip, not get laid.

Frankie’s obsession and attempted application of all she feels she’s learned from them hit me at my core. And truthfully, it is a country-wide phenomenon right now (whether true crime tv/podcasts or thriller books). How many of us have been guilty of saying… well in SVU or… when I announced that I learned you could kill someone with eye drops from a book I’d just read. This got me some stares and thoughts that maybe I needed a break from this particular genre.

Characters

Last but not least, the audiobook is narrated fantastically by Lauren Ezzo, who is new to me. I will look out for her in the future. She does a fantastic job handling the emotional roller coasters, as well as the drops of the rollercoaster that leave your stomach in your throat.

Pull up your beach chair, or just curl up on the couch. Hannah Mary McKinnon’s The Revenge List is going to leave you breathless.

 

 

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