Cover Image: Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock

Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock

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Member Reviews

The creative premise of this book was what originally drew me in, and that part did not disappoint. It was pretty fast-paced, the world building was fun but felt realistic even in the more out-there parts, and the overarching mystery was (mostly) satisfying. The biggest issue was that as much as I thought the main character was really well-done, and had a strong story progression, the rest of the cast felt like a vessel for the character's development. Relationships between the clone we follow and the other 13 Lulabelles felt like they should have been explored deeper, but a lot of them were two-dimensional, even those who have been around a long time and were presented as unique individuals. A lot of the connections felt forced, as if they only existed for the MC to learn something about the world. It was especially unfortunate because we saw a few glimpses of other clones interacting, and it was infinitely more interesting than the dynamic between them and the MC. I think there was a lot of potential to make the characters stand out more, and in doing so make the story feel more realistic. However, the creativity and writing style really worked for me, and I think especially given that this is (I think) Maud Woolf's first book, I would definitely read whatever she published next.

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Loved this! It's funny, original and sassy. Each character-clone is fab. Will definitely be recommending it.

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First of all a big thank you to the author, Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

I enjoyed the concept of this. It’s been a while since I picked up a sci fi and I found this one really intriguing. In this world celebrities make clones of themselves so that they can get more done in their lifetime. In this Lulabelle Rock makes her thirteenth and final clone. Her purpose is to dispose of the other clones. This was a really quick and enjoyable read.

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Everyone wants a piece of Lulabelle Rock. She needs to be at parties. Showing off the latest fashions. Trying any number of hobbies. Jet setting about taking care of international business. Even spending time with her friends. It is, frankly, far too much for one actress to handle by her lonesome. But she has been leaning on her portraits too heavily for too long and, after an absolute snooze of a starring role, it might be a good thing if Lulabelle Rock was in limited supply. So she decants one more Lulabelle, lucky number thirteen. Her only purpose is to kill the other portraits, she knows her targets as well as she knows herself, but how well does this final portrait know herself and how well can her purpose last in the face of twelve more of herself?

I find myself fascinated by both the idea and execution of Maud Woolf’s Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock. This is an exploration of a character becoming themself, not a coming-of-age story but the story of a character with a full suite of someone else’s memories splitting off into her own person. Also, murder.

The thirteenth portrait of Lulabelle Rock spends a lot of the book insistent on the fact that she is Lulabelle Rock, not the original of course but still Lulabelle Rock, despite all the little places where she diverges from the original and her fellow portraits. She holds on to that idea like a protective charm at points. She is Thirteen. She is Death, the assassin. She is Lulabelle Rock. But it feels like the book is continually asking her what that means. Is the fashion plate portrait less Lulabelle Rock than she is? The exhausted party girl? The secretary working for her manager? Each portrait is Lulabelle, just like she is. None of the portraits have stayed just Lulabelle, so what does that mean for her? The idea that each of these women started with the same set of memories and developed away from the original in as radical a way as some of them did is fascinating to me, from the simplicity of liking polka dots enough to fight to be allowed to wear them to being made to be radically different and hating Lulabelle for it while still loving that life. And our protagonist, the Thirteenth, finds herself dealing with this divide. Finds herself becoming attached to some of the other portraits, empathizing with them where she should just kill them and move on.

The sheer variety across the different portraits is delightful, even the ones that are only given a loose sketch of characterization are fascinating. The idea that in this setting a celebrity can have a bunch of, essentially, clones of themself made to do whatever they cannot or do not want to do regardless of what that might be. The first portrait killed is listed as having been made to go to a brunch with Lulabelle’s friends because Lulabelle herself was too depressed to go. Another is made to try out all of the hobbies that Lulabelle just does not have time to try out. And it is fascinating and a bit sad, the idea of trying to have it all by making a bunch of copies of yourself to do the things you want to do but cannot and then never experiencing anything they do. The hobbies portrait takes joy in trying out different things, but Lulabelle herself never gets to try anything herself because, it would be a waste of time if she was not good at something and she cannot be allowed to fail. It feels isolating, like the most extreme extension of the idea of a person as a product, like having to pour out more and more of yourself well after your cup is empty but never being able to connect with others despite all the work. Lulabelle seems almost entirely isolated throughout the novel, we see her having employees and the Thirteenth meets her manager, but not her friends or anyone she cares about. The various connections our protagonist makes throughout the novel makes it feel like she is becoming more human than the Lulabelle who sent her out to kill all of the other Lulabelles.

Our protagonist learns empathy. Is informed early on that it is best to be kind, yes even to the people you plan on killing. She inadvertently makes connections with other people, both human and her fellow portraits, that affect her perceptions of the world. It works well and Woolf has built a light tarot themed framework into the story, with the chapters ranging in order from the Fool, card zero, to Temperance, the fourteenth card, one step past the Death card our protagonist identifies with. That framework is important in its own right to the story and our protagonist’s development as a person. It is the gift of a tarot deck from a hitch hiker that gives her something to hold her attention while the car drives her to her first kill, the first thing that she has that the original Lulabelle does not also possess even before she is told to be kind or develops any attachment to anyone beyond Lulabelle. Through the Death card she is given something of an identity of her own, though more literal than the card actually indicates. An identity that serves her differently than being Lulabelle Rock does, one that allows her to do the job she was distilled for, that reminds her of what she is meant to do and be. But also one that, by its nature, also hinders her as she clings to it while she changes around it due to her growing connections to others.

I really want to read more of Maud Woolf’s work. Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock is a fantastic journey through a character growing away from her origins and all the points that affect her path along the way. Our protagonist is such a ball of contradictions that it makes her just the right level of frustrating. The other portraits are allowed to be characters in their own right enough that there is room to wonder who they might be, from the bare sketches to the ones who shake the protagonist’s idea of who she might be and what she is doing. And I feel like I could go on talking about it for another thousand words at least. Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock earns a five out of five. Well worth reading.

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Book Review
Title: Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock by Maud Woolf
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, LGBT
Rating: 3 Stars
All I knew about this before going into it was it is a sci-fi set in a world where famous people can have clones of themselves called Portraits created and this is following a clone of Lulabelle Rock who has been ordered to kill all the other existing clones but things aren’t going to be easy. The opening introduces us to the thirteenth Portrait of Lulabelle Rock, an actress, only 20 minutes after she has been “born”. She talks with the true Lulabelle Rock about why she has been created which is to kill the other portraits of her in order to create interest around her and her new movies which is extremely shallow and I already dislike her as a character.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, we get to see this new Portrait heading into Bubble City which is both very dystopian and futuristic at the same time. There she manages to dispatch two of the other Portraits she has been sent to kill. Neither of these deaths were overly dramatic or entertaining but this new clone has thought about her orders and wants to be kinder to the Portraits she is doing away with. At this point I wasn’t super invested int he story since the main characters doesn’t have that much of a personality and the executions aren’t really focused on, for example, she literally shot a Portrait at a bus stop before driving off, it lasted for only a sentence or two.the second had a bit more depth but was essentially Portrait enters shop and gets shot. If the rest of the book is like this I might have to DNF the book.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, portrait number 13 is picking off the others but gets the sense that something isn’t right with them. One is a party version of Lulabelle as she has been forced to party with little sleep for months on end and is ready to face death making extra dramatic. However, the next two are different, one an artist is at peace with dying but 13 doesn’t want to kill and leaves saying she will return later. Another is the version of Lulabelle that never became an actress and married her childhood sweetheart but this one isn’t willing to die peacefully even going as far as attacking 13.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, there seems to be something completely off about the portraits in general. At first when they are new like 13 the seem like carbon copies of the person they are made to represent but others who have been around a long time seem to have develop their own personalities that are completely different to their original. This makes me think that the lifespan of a portrait is meant to be short otherwise they wake up and develop their own thoughts and ideas that would set them apart from their original. Despite this 13 doesn’t really seem to have any guilt about picking off other versions of Lulabelle that came before her. She is currently at 5 meaning there are eight more to go. That being said I don’t have any idea what is going to happen from here if it’s the same old, kill portrait and move on like it has been this is going to be a very disappointing read when stand-alone fantasy and science fiction is rare enough to begin with.
As we cross into the second half of the novel, things were getting more interesting as 13 is coming up against some portraits that have been around for close to a decade and are aware that she is coming for them. Some are eager to end it taking matters into their own hands while others fight her until the very end. 13 is also changing whether it is her conscious or gradually awakening to the idea that she is more than the purpose she was created for but it doesn’t really matter since she continues to do what she has been made to do. Despite this I was still unaware what the purpose of the book is and the romance between 13 and the artist made me gag since they are essentially the same person despite their differences from the original so I couldn’t get onboard with that. It would have been better for her to have a romance with Simon, the hitchhiker since at least he is a completely different person and doesn’t judge her either.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, there were some more surreal elements being brought in like the idea of tarot and how the portraits play into their roles within the major arcana like 10 aka “Belle” being extremely strong as she is the Strength card and 13 being an assassin as the death card. Even so, I was still struggling to see the point of the book especially since there are only a few chapters left and 3 portraits remaining including the artist. Then there is the question of what is going to happen to 13, I honestly don’t think she is going to run away with the artist because it hasn’t been brought up at all and if she dies then there was no point to the book in general. While I am not excited about how the book is going to end I want to see what direction Woolf is going to take the book in.
As we cross into the final section of the novel, I definitely didn’t get the resolution I was hoping for but there was a twist at the end that I didn’t expect. Overall, Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock wasn’t my favourite novel but I didn’t hate it either. If you’re looking for a soft sci-fi with some interesting concepts that definitely check this one out but it wasn’t for me personally.

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I'm grateful to the publisher and NetGalley for granting me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this captivating book. From the first page to the last, I was thoroughly engrossed in the story, unable to put it down. The characters were well-developed, the plot was gripping, and the writing was superb. Overall, I immensely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to fellow readers. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this wonderful reading experience.

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Devoured this book in just a few hours, really enjoyed the characters, the setting, the story. Unique, funny, philosophical and daring.

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This is Woolf’s debut, and this is a real solid debut novella! We get “clone created to take out other clones” mixed with the mythos of the tarot and the hellscape of the entertainment industry. The ending isn’t entirely there, but it still is solid. Definitely interested in more from her!

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Thank you Angry Robot and NetGalley for the review copy.

4.5 stars This novella set in a futuristic Hollywoodesque “Bubble City” asks what it means to be human and what we do with the purpose we are given. Our main character is the thirteenth “portrait” (clone) of Lulabelle Rock, an actress. She was created to kill the other 12 portraits and set on her mission with nothing more than a binder of information on the other portraits, an autonomous car, and a gun.
As our Lulabelle progresses through her mission, she meets a variety of characters and begins to question life, who she is, and what she wants.
This story definitely gives Black Mirror vibes and I really enjoyed the tarot aspect to the chapters and characters.

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Whack-a-doodle Clone-Noir with some real zing. In "Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock" the clone of a famous actress , on her first day of existence, is thrust into an odyssey of mayhem and murder as she is tasked with eliminating her twelve predecessors. Along the, way she discovers that, clone or not, she has a deeper humanity than she or her creators imagined. This is a fast paced, mildly absurdist and often comedic romp that is recommended for anyone who gets the same hit from "Blade Runner and "Barbie".

4.5 stars out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Angry Robot, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Thanks to Maud Woolf, Angry Robot and Netgalley for access to the advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book takes a topic – cloning, and challenges us to think about the consequences of what happens when the clone is no longer needed or wanted? What if clones were created to serve a specific purpose but that purpose was boring and unfulfilling?

Lulabelle Rock is a famous person, and she has had clones of herself created to handle various tasks she doesn’t want to do. Trouble is, she doesn’t want them anymore, so she gives the latest clone the task to kill the others. Great exploration of the topic, with twists and turns along the way. Recommended.

Posted to Goodreads manually due to a technical issue.

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Lulabelle Rock, B- or C-lister star that she is, has a number of commitments, whether places to be seen at, fantastic designer ware to sport, and any number of other things busy celebrities must do regularly to keep their names top of the public's mind, particularly in advance of their new movie.

To manage the heavy demands of many marketing events, Lulabelle had several clones created by the company Mitosis, who can successfully download memories and mannerisms into each clone, or Portrait, as they're called. Each Portrait is expensive, and have one distinguishing feature to tell them apart from the real person: their hands do not have any lines at all.

At the novel's outset, Lulabelle awakens her latest Portrait, and sends her on a mission: kill all of her previous Portraits within three days.

While travelling to her first kill, Portrait 13 meets a young man who is heading to Bubble City, where all the other Portraits are located. He's going there to study divination, and gives her a deck of tarot cards, which she uses to identify the other Portraits, including herself, whom she names Death. Interestingly, author Maud Woolf names each chapter heading after each of the cards Death has designated as her upcoming kill's role.

As Death progresses, she begins to question the point of killing all the Portraits, and by extension, her purpose. Each of the Portraits has begun developing their own personalities, and the more time Death spends doing her job, the more she begins diverging from her stated purpose. It's all a lot of fun, with dark humour with a bit of a noir feel, as Death travels from the secluded and opulent estate Lulabelle lives in to a glitzy party, to a crappy apartment with a busted elevator, to a suburban home. (I was reminded a wee bit of the beginning of "The Big Sleep" even though the main character here is an utter blank slate unlike Philip Marlowe).

As she moves from place to place, Lulabelle calls to berate her for not moving fast enough, even while Death begins to wonder why Lulabelle wants all the Portraits dead, as they're very costly, and just doing what she doesn't have time to do herself. Lulabelle the employer remains a bit of a mystery, beyond coming off as bored, spoiled and demanding, and the longer Death works, the more she chips away at her employer's motivation, the reveal of which is satisfying.

As Death is figuring all this out, her growth is terrific, as well as the relationship she cultivates with the Artist, probably the most interesting of Death's targets. The Artist's many, many efforts at eye paintings and the impetus for each was simultaneously funny, sweet and sad.

For a relatively short novel, this one packed in lots of humour, action, character development, and satire, and was also just a lot of fun to read.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Angry Robot for this ARC in exchange for my review.

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The 13th copy of famous actress Lulabelle Rock has one mission: to kill the other 12 that came before her. Sounds simple right?

I loved the world building in this novel - the somewhat surreal, near-future setting of Bubble City read as almost cinematic and conjured up vivid imagery in my head as I followed the story. I also greatly enjoyed the author's writing style - this book was at times hilarious!

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This book has a ton of potential but misses the mark with me. Mind me, I am not saying that this book is bad or that it is not worth your time (or mine), not at all, I am simply saying that, despite all the good elements that we have here, it wasn’t a right fit for me. I was hoping to greatly enjoy this book and instead, I just finished the reading feeling “meh”. And I think that the main problems were two (or maybe three…), so let’s begin with them, and then let’s dive in the good parts!

First thing first, I am a character-driven kind of reader, so for me to really enjoy reading is paramount to be able to really feel the characters, be 100% invested in them, and all that. And here I didn’t really care for Lulabelle (and I am talking about the 13th Portrait, but I don’t care for the original one either, just to be clear). It’s not that she (it?) is a bad character but I couldn’t connect with her, I was always kept at arm’s length, if this makes sense to you, and this hindered my reading experience.
I loved some of the secondary characters, but they are not enough to make some real difference here.
The second thing is the general atmosphere, the vibes of the book. It is almost like the whole book is… rarefied. It has this light dreamlike quality to it, just a hint of it, but for me, it was enough to give me pause. I am not a fan of oneiric or dreamlike settings and vibes, they simply do not work for me.
And last the sense of humor. There is a sense of humor in this book, but it went completely over my head. I know theoretically that it’s there but I didn’t feel it at all. And since I prefer my books with some humor in there… this didn’t work out so well. And mind me, I know that sense of humor is something that can be highly personal, so maybe this kind of humor will work amazingly well for you, but it simply did not work for me. At all.

And that was why this book wasn’t a good fit for me. But the book as a whole is interesting, with an original concept that is well developed along the story. The idea of rich people who can create Portraits (clones) to do things that they don’t want to do, or that they don’t have the time to do, is interesting. The author chose an actress to show us this whole side of her world, and it was fascinating to see why Lulabelle needed her Portraits, and also a little bit baffling to see this kind of amazing technology, this scientific achievement, used for such trifle things.
And it is even more baffling to see why Lulabelle wants her Portraits killed. It is quite shocking to see people interact with Portraits like they were humans, but at the same time disrespect their lives in such a way. Portraits have no right, for example, they have the only function of obeying their orders, and yet they are not mere robots, they are clones, and they are sentient. And this duality was, as I said, quite shocking, but it is a slow thing that would grow on you. Or at least, it was so for me. You obviously see it, the author tells you plainly but still, this realization took some time for me, and this was a thing that I appreciated. She is not in your face with it, and it is also, sadly, a realistic depiction of human nature.

Another good thing about this book is that the author creates some unique characters. It is true that I am not so fond of Lulabelle and her Portraits, any of them, but we have some secondary characters that are, in comparison, so much alive. They feel real and complex, and they are unique. I loved them. But they were not enough to supply my need for investment in the characters, sadly. But still, they are good!
I think my favorite was the tailor, but the hitchhiker can steal her place at any given moment.

So yeah, this book was, on the level of pure enjoyment, not the right fit for me. But it has a lot of good things going on, and it is quite original. So if the idea of the book sounds interesting to you, I suggest you’ll try it for yourself! I am sure that a lot of people out there would love this one!

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Set in some kind of dystopian(?) future where the rich and famous can make clones of themselves called Portraits,

We follow our celebrity Lulabelle Rock portrait lucky number 13 while she has to kill/ dispose of all the other ones that came before her.

So this book didn’t make a lick of sense (to me anyway) there were lots of things that were added in that didn’t really make sense plot wise, like the hitchhiker he added zero to the plot at all, and then there was a mysterious phone call that alerted the authorities to the Portrait 13 that was just random and never explained.
Then the whole tarot card felt random and never fully explained or explored other than to call herself death.
The fact Portrait 13 fell in love with a previously made portrait maybe number 6 then had relations with herself, like they have the same memories until they are made. They look the same and are pretty much one person. That just felt weird to me.
Considering it’s a book about killing it’s so slow paced. Hardly anything thrilling happens until the last few pages then it’s a rush to get things wrapped up which comes across as clumsy writing and confusing to us as readers.

Overall a poor reading experience however it kept me interested enough to finish it and see how it wrapped up. Even if I was frowning the entire way

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This book had a unique premise and I found myself drawn in pretty quickly. I read it in one sitting! The world-building was fantastic, and it had a Black Mirror/Twilight Zone feel to it. I would definitely read more from this author and recommend this book to others. Thanks for the opportunity to read!

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Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock is a satirical sci-fi novella set in the futuristic Bubble City where the elite can acquire authenticated clones of themselves, called portraits. The reader follows movie star Lulabelle Rock’s thirteenth portrait, created to dispose of her twelve predecessors in a supposed publicity stunt to drum up media attention in time for the release of Lulabelle’s new movie.

Through the point of view of Lulabelle’s last portrait, we explore themes of identity and self-awareness. The portrait is situated in a liminal space of polarity, of existing and yet not existing, of having a recollection of memories and yet knowing they were not lived experiences — of being Lulabelle and not being Lulabelle. I thought this was a really interesting premise to explore and added depth to the story.

I particularly enjoyed the epigraphs and symbolism of the Major Arcana tarot cards in each chapter. There were thirteen chapters and thirteen life lessons for the thirteenth portrait to understand her place and role in the world. As a reader, I don’t get as much out of novellas as I do longer works of fiction so I would have preferred the story to have been a little longer and to have expanded on the lives of each clone etc but on the whole this was a fun, thought-provoking read.

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The premise of this book was intriguing with celebrities creating "Portraits" (clones) to live the parts of their live they can't be bothered with/don't have time for until Lulubelle creates a 13th clone whose purpose is to kill all the others. This, alongside the comparisons to Black Mirror and Orphan Black meant I was really excited to read this one.

It was a quick read and I was drawn into the story. Initally, the world building was good and the characters were interesting but then I started to lose interest in what was happening. I found it a bit too repetitive with the introduction of the new clones, many of which we only got to know very surface level which meant that at a certain point, I got a bit bored of it.

Overall, it's certainly not a bad book, it just wasn't great either. The concept was better than the execution, I think.

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CW: death, assault, blood, violence, suicide

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A movie star who has made copies of herself now tasks her thirteenth clone to kill the others? Sign me the f up. I was immediately drawn in by the blurb of the book, especially because Orphan Black was mentioned and I absolutely love that show. I can definitely see where the comparison comes from and I really enjoyed reading this story about Lullabelle Rock.

We follow Lullabelle's thirteenth Portrait, dubbed the Assassin, on her journey through Bubble City tracking down and decommissioning her predecessors. The reader is thrown right into the story without much preface and is left to figure out what is going on in the first few pages but I really loved the start.

Unfortunately the story becomes rather formulaic after Lullabelle 13's arrival in Bubble City for a while. It's basically just the same scene over and over again, look for the other Portrait, find her, maybe a quick conversation, do the deed and repeat. Naturally, there is some stuff in between that keeps building up suspense but for a while, I was slightly bored even... Nevertheless, I think the book is worth sticking through the repetitive parts and I absolutely loved the ongoing discussion of free will and decision making. There were some more (or less) obvious metaphors for that but even though they were pretty on the nose, I enjoyed them nonetheless.

I was a little disappointed with the ending but I can't really pinpoint why. I had expected a different end to the book but I don't know what I was expecting. Be that as it may, I definitely think it fits with the story even though I did see it coming in parts.

I think this is a great book to pick up in between tomes, it was fun, a quick read that only took me so long because I was extremely busy and who isn't intrigued by a story about clones? I'd definitely recommend it for some fun but also surprisingly deep scenes sprinkled in. I'd love to discuss this with someone because the Portrait situation was wild to read about. Now if you read this and enjoy it and for some reason haven't seen Orphan Black yet, I would recommend you check that out as well. And because others have compared the book to Black Mirror, too, that has now moved up in my list of shows to watch.

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The story delves deep into themes of identity and actions, and their consequences really strike a chord with you. As the plot unfolds, you realise that even though she's been around death, she's never really grasped the essence of life. The entire story spans just a couple of days, which is exactly how long she's been alive, making it a significant eye-opener for her.

Every character we encounter is like a piece of the original with a unique twist, each with their own purpose in existence. They have lives filled with things the original doesn't have time for in the real world: hobbies, families, social media, and dinner parties. These are experiences Lulabelle has never had herself, but she lives them vicariously through her portraits.

I have to admit, I was hooked on this story until the ending, which hit me unexpectedly and left me feeling like it wasn't quite wrapped up. But hey, maybe that's just me not fully grasping it.

The whole narrative felt like a brilliantly crafted early Black Mirror episode (not like the newer ones that aren't so great). Every reveal of a tarot card and target kept me on my toes, and I never knew where the story was headed, adding a constant element of surprise.

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