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Helpmeet

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It's 1900, and Louise Wilk is taking her dying husband from Manhattan to the upstate orchard estate where he grew up. Dr. Edward Wilk is wasting away from a mysterious affliction acquired in a strange encounter: but Louise soon realizes that her husband's worsening condition may not be a disease at all, but a transformative phase of existence that will draw her in as much It's 1900, and Louise Wilk is taking her dying husband from Manhattan to the upstate orchard estate where he grew up. Dr. Edward Wilk is wasting away from a mysterious affliction acquired in a strange encounter: but Louise soon realizes that her husband's worsening condition may not be a disease at all, but a transformative phase of existence that will draw her in as much more than a witness.


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It's 1900, and Louise Wilk is taking her dying husband from Manhattan to the upstate orchard estate where he grew up. Dr. Edward Wilk is wasting away from a mysterious affliction acquired in a strange encounter: but Louise soon realizes that her husband's worsening condition may not be a disease at all, but a transformative phase of existence that will draw her in as much It's 1900, and Louise Wilk is taking her dying husband from Manhattan to the upstate orchard estate where he grew up. Dr. Edward Wilk is wasting away from a mysterious affliction acquired in a strange encounter: but Louise soon realizes that her husband's worsening condition may not be a disease at all, but a transformative phase of existence that will draw her in as much more than a witness.

30 review for Helpmeet

  1. 4 out of 5

    Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    An odd, mysterious and at times revolting medley of body horror and weird fiction. The historical setting adds to the feeling of unease and it's smart enough to be short, which means that it does not wear thin its welcome. An odd, mysterious and at times revolting medley of body horror and weird fiction. The historical setting adds to the feeling of unease and it's smart enough to be short, which means that it does not wear thin its welcome.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chantel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is important to note that the majority of the themes explored in this book deal with sensitive subject matters. My review, therefore, touches on these topics as well. Many people might find the subject matters of the book as well as those detailed in my review overwhelming. I would suggest you steer clear of both if this is the case. Please note that from this point forward I will be writing about matters which contain reflections on graphic descriptions of physical decomposition & body fluid It is important to note that the majority of the themes explored in this book deal with sensitive subject matters. My review, therefore, touches on these topics as well. Many people might find the subject matters of the book as well as those detailed in my review overwhelming. I would suggest you steer clear of both if this is the case. Please note that from this point forward I will be writing about matters which contain reflections on graphic descriptions of physical decomposition & body fluid, gore, disease, sexual promiscuity, body mutilation, & others. The house that Louise shared with her husband, Edward Wilk, will be reposed by the bank. The life that she knew in comfort from the one she worked into obtaining has shifted & Louise will be leaving Manhattan for the Buffalo home that housed the Wilk family for generations. On the eve of their departure, in November of 1900, Louise ensures that all the preparations are made & reflects upon the moment she saw the vacant home of her partner in a photograph depicting the shadow of a being unknown within the home. Ruthnum’s writing is pointed, simplistic & morbid. There is no necessity in sautéing the words with thick saucy prose; the vernacular employed within this novella leaves the reader with the immediate sensation of being shadowed in a room near a closing door; the only door to the hallways & subsequently a way out of the house. Perhaps you have known the talent of gothic horror that bob trepidation across dated, shafting floorboards within desolated abodes. Perhaps you have come upon this book seeking the satiation that is felt when coming upon an orchard of chills. You have come to the right place. One may read this book ostentatiously for the horror alone; unflinching when the pink tips of the nail bed pinch their way through Edward’s tear ducks. One may also approach these 94 pages with the exaltation of someone who has come upon an author who seamlessly showcases their craft by describing the growing entity that slurped power from Edward’s brain, nestling itself in between vertebrae to become the new man we see at the end of the story. Whichever way you choose to interpret or absorb this story you will be left with sentiments of humour, for truly, the line that distinguishes laughter from screams is quite thin. What better reaction for a tongue that falls deadly out of a gaping mouth like a slippery slug on the rotting carpet of an abandoned home, than to laugh. Nothing is funny, certainly the opposite. However, Ruthnum’s writing is poignant to the point of being obscene. There is truly no greater way to approach a novella of horror than to teeter the line between morose decomposition & gory rebirth. The dual interpretations of this story will leave a reader pondering the implications of the character’s actions for hours after the completion of their read. Is the irony lost on any reader that Edward, the brilliant & respected surgeon of New York State is unable to riddle himself out of a deteriorating & rotting body? I should think not. Yet, not once does the author indicate that his sojourn through extramarital affairs is a reflection of incompetence or lack of moral stability. Edward is simply drawn to the physicality of what is around him, to further a desire to totally become singular by exploring the duple exchange. Where do these encounters leave Louise? Louise works in the same field as the surgeon & is unperturbed by cleaning the molten bedpans with the sole desire to become a nurse so that she need not showcase gratuity for financially motivated employment. This person who married Edward, not for the intimacy that he could offer her physically, for certainly, she received proximity to all those whom she healed with dedicated action; but for the absorption of the comfort his person brought into her life. I cannot say that I inherently understand the reasons behind any of the choices made within this story. Why would Louise choose to delve head-first into Edward’s carcass, disappearing from her individuality in life? Was she reliant on his body in a different way than Edward was on the pulsating flesh of other people? I suppose both chose to enter the bodies of other people to feel more themselves. The action of penetrating the entity of another individual holds a rather steep significance within this book. How much could Louise have truly felt a place within Edward when she had never visited the crevices in his shell? What is the significance of a lack of sexual reproductive organs on this new ‘Louise Wilk’? Are Louise & Edward alive in this sarcophagus or have they meshed together to an unrecognizable height which leaves them lacking in a singular body? Could one read that the metamorphosis of the two individuals, living within one body, reflects the concurrent expressions of those who feel that there are no two without one; those who express coming to be in the mistake of anatomy that does not suit their soul? I suppose it should depend on the reader how these events might be interpreted. A blossoming tether of imagery & personification of the flower that presents itself to Louise in the darkened apple orchard is brutal. Here the neutral entity expresses simply wanting to be alive, not wanting to destroy or repulse; no inherent negative or violent desires are held within the deconstructed razor flower. One could certainly look upon this creature as a simple reflection of the human species. How often we have bent over backwards to remain steadfast whilst simultaneously halting our own progress around every corner; unable to meet at the halfway point of consensus & respect. Edward’s brain is alive in his body though every other part of him has been absorbed by the flower. The mind is the driving force behind our presence in life. It was with appreciation & inflation that the flower leaves Edward’s brain unperturbed, surely knowing that Louise will grasp at the opportunity to revive the mental stamina of her husband though she will never be held by him again. When the final scene cuts like the nails through Isabel’s scalp the reader is presented with the concluding opportunity to regain their stance on their feelings towards this story; is this one of metaphors or one of demise? The petals that warp around vertebrae slowly growing with the reimagined ‘Louise Wilk’ tether themselves to be steady & slow, making certain to not outgrow the carapace that shelters them in this life. Friend or foe is the one who steadies themselves in the unknown; our fears, hopes & uncertainties, quantifying in the depths of places unvisited by the conscious abilities of our own entity. Thank you to Edelweiss+, Undertow Publications & Naben Ruthnum for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    STAR review in the April 2022 issue of Library Journal Three Words That Describe This Book: grotesquely beautiful, immersive, deeply unsettling DRAFT REVIEW: In this grotesquely beautiful, deeply unsettling, and utterly beguiling Kafkaesque novella, Ruthnum introduces readers to Louise, a nurse in 1900 New York City, caring for her husband, Edward, a doctor, dying painfully, his body literally dissolving piece by piece, as they prepare to relocate to Edward’s family’s orchard in Buffalo, where he w STAR review in the April 2022 issue of Library Journal Three Words That Describe This Book: grotesquely beautiful, immersive, deeply unsettling DRAFT REVIEW: In this grotesquely beautiful, deeply unsettling, and utterly beguiling Kafkaesque novella, Ruthnum introduces readers to Louise, a nurse in 1900 New York City, caring for her husband, Edward, a doctor, dying painfully, his body literally dissolving piece by piece, as they prepare to relocate to Edward’s family’s orchard in Buffalo, where he wants to die peacefully. Edward’s numerous dalliances lead many to believe he has syphilis, but early on, it is made clear his suffering comes from something bigger than a bacterium. What exactly it is however, is for Lousie, Edward, and the reader to discover. Told with multiple narrators, including Lousie and Edward, this magnificent novella, draws readers in immediately and then holds their emotions hostage for the duration, without argument, as they watch the story transform* from a tangible tale of illness and death into one of otherworldly beauty, with just the right amount of darkness hiding in the wings. A reading experience that will linger long after the final page is turned. Verdict: This uncanny and disquieting story, with a perfect title,“Helpmeet,” a historical term for “a helpful companion,” a definition that Ruthnum satisfyingly twists in an unexpected way, is reminiscent of the complex feelings induced by Jones’ Mapping the Interior, any Oyoyemi tale, or We Can Never Leave This Place by LaRocca [also in this issue]. NOTES: Excellent novella that draws you in from first page and holds your attention and your emotions hostage. Figuring out how not to give away anything but I will say the title is PERFECT. Readalikes- This reminded me of a debut I read last year and loved- The Taxidermist’s Lover but with the storytelling feel of Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones. Also a great choice for Oyoyemi fans. More than a touch of Kafka as well. I will seek out more by this author.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve Stred

    “noun: helpmeet a helpful companion or partner, especially one’s husband or wife.” First – huge massive thank you to Michael Kelly and Undertow Publications for sending me a digital ARC of this upcoming release. The previous digital ARC I’ve been fortunate to read from the mighty Undertow Publications was the stunning ‘Armageddon House’ by Michael Griffin and that one turned out to be one of my all time favorite books. Would lightning strike twice? I very rarely mention a books cover in my reviews, “noun: helpmeet a helpful companion or partner, especially one’s husband or wife.” First – huge massive thank you to Michael Kelly and Undertow Publications for sending me a digital ARC of this upcoming release. The previous digital ARC I’ve been fortunate to read from the mighty Undertow Publications was the stunning ‘Armageddon House’ by Michael Griffin and that one turned out to be one of my all time favorite books. Would lightning strike twice? I very rarely mention a books cover in my reviews, but in this case, I must. Just look at that painting. My apologies, I thought I noted what it was called, but it was from approx. 1825 and not only does it accurately depict the story you’re about to read, but also the sense of unknown dread that accompanies the reader as you crack this one open. In the advanced praise section prior to the story, author Craig Davidson likens this to the old masters, those who’ve come before who used sparse wording and simply prose, but managed to create massive, monstrous results, IE Algernon Blackwood as an example. Folks – Davidson was spot on. What I liked: As both a fan of reading and writing novellas, ‘Helpmeet’ delivers everything you want in a novel in a smooth sixty nine pages. Not a word is wasted here and when I finished reading this over the course of about an hour last night, I was exhausted mentally and physically. This is an experience. I would compare it to when you first discovered a horror movie when you were young. You were captivated and had to sit rapt until it was over and you had to question yourself about what you just read. ‘Helpmeet’ delivers the same (as did Armageddon House for those wondering), and it was absolutely compulsive. The story follows Louise, the wife of a well to do doctor, Edward in 1900. Edward has come down with an odd affliction, one that is causing his body to rot, decay and fall off of his skeleton. He hasn’t much time left and needs to get to his out of state property before it is too late. Ruthnum paints a picture of a dotting wife (who also used to a nurse) caring for her husband, even when he’s been a horrible man. Frequenting brothels, stepping outside of their marriage with other nurses and generally not being there for Louise. But what would normally strain this relationship, has been pushed aside by Louise, as she decides to stick with him and help him as he becomes unable to do most anything. I loved seeing how this one unraveled and when we arrive at an ending, that completely floored me and absolutely opened up a whole world of questions and enormous possibilities, I knew Ruthnum had decided to ‘go there’ for this story. Those who’ll read this will know what I mean. Just so, so phenomenal. What I didn’t like: Ruthnum fit in a 500 page novels worth of story here, but even after all of that, I still wish we could’ve learned a little bit more of some specific events surrounding the ending. I hate being spoiler free for this specific reason, but boy, would I have loved to learn even 5% more! Why you should buy this: This is what writing a classic story looks like in 2022. I struggle reading the old masters, Blackwood and Machen and others, because I find their writing can often be clunky and far too often the choice of phrasing is confusing and baffling. Not with Ruthnum, and not with ‘Helpmeet.’ From the first word to the very last word, this story crawls under your skin and I was often times reminded of Iain Reid’s work with ‘FOE,’ in that you know something is off, something not right, but even when you find out what it is, your eyes practically pop out of your skull. This was pristine storytelling and I’ve very thankful to have read this one. It’ll be staying in my head for a very long time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Infidelity and dark secrets set the stage for this curiously dark and unsettling novella set in the early 1900's, in which a wife begins to care for her husband who is literally being eating away at by a strange and painful infliction. Gosh, it's such a lavishly slow moving story... until it isn't (slow moving, I mean)! And when the REALLY weird stuff starts.... * chef's kiss * The book is so short, cloking in at a mere 88 pages, that if I were to say any more, I might ruin it for you. Infidelity and dark secrets set the stage for this curiously dark and unsettling novella set in the early 1900's, in which a wife begins to care for her husband who is literally being eating away at by a strange and painful infliction. Gosh, it's such a lavishly slow moving story... until it isn't (slow moving, I mean)! And when the REALLY weird stuff starts.... * chef's kiss * The book is so short, cloking in at a mere 88 pages, that if I were to say any more, I might ruin it for you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    A creepy and unsettling novella made all the more disturbing by the calm lack of urgency in the narrative. Body horror, weird, gothic and surreal, I was unable to stop reading until the end. Quite a remarkable little book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alix

    3.5 stars Helpmeet is the story of a devoted wife caring for her dying husband. Her husband is dying from an unknown and gruesome illness yet, her devotion and love for him is unwavering. This book is both a body horror story and a twisted love story. You definitely will not be able to predict how this story develops and how it ends. Overall, this is a grotesque yet entertaining novella.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Shaw

    Excellent body horror/weird fiction about a woman taking care of her husband as his body transforms. Very Cronenbergian. The ending was also a pleasant surprise.

  9. 4 out of 5

    pippi wrongstocking

    Grotesque and completely beguiling. Very effective body horror coupled with gorgeous writing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Grotesque body horror that at its core raises serious concerns around marital/relationship issues between the two characters. Beautifully and sparsely written, with hints of amusing absurdity at how incredulous the body horror progresses. A quick, provocative read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Housley

    Loved it. A beautiful short story, wonderfully told.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Lee

    This was fun. It's like a horror version of James Tiptree Jr.'s "A Momentary Taste of Being" which is a favourite. I wanted a bit more motivation from the women in the story, but everything else was so beautifully done that this is a minor quibble. This was fun. It's like a horror version of James Tiptree Jr.'s "A Momentary Taste of Being" which is a favourite. I wanted a bit more motivation from the women in the story, but everything else was so beautifully done that this is a minor quibble.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cail Judy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Throw a black-lace dress on John Carpenter's The Thing and move it to an old farmhouse with a decaying mummy. Ruthnum's powers are on full-display here: the authorial voice, the shifting perspectives, it all works. It is beguiling and creepy with the strength of an old master like Machen or Aickman. Read this book. Throw a black-lace dress on John Carpenter's The Thing and move it to an old farmhouse with a decaying mummy. Ruthnum's powers are on full-display here: the authorial voice, the shifting perspectives, it all works. It is beguiling and creepy with the strength of an old master like Machen or Aickman. Read this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    M. A. Blanchard

    It’s possible that body horror rooted in a mysterious and terrible illness is not the best choice of reading material when the reader is sick in bed with COVID-19. I, however, am not always known for making the best possible choices, and so when the fever abated just enough to allow more than a few moments of reading at a time, I eagerly switched on my ereader and let myself be carried away by Naben Ruthnum’s beautiful and disgusting tale of complex marital devotion. Truthfully, based on the snip It’s possible that body horror rooted in a mysterious and terrible illness is not the best choice of reading material when the reader is sick in bed with COVID-19. I, however, am not always known for making the best possible choices, and so when the fever abated just enough to allow more than a few moments of reading at a time, I eagerly switched on my ereader and let myself be carried away by Naben Ruthnum’s beautiful and disgusting tale of complex marital devotion. Truthfully, based on the snippets I had seen from other ARC readers, I thought this novella would be more gross than it was, and I was ever so slightly concerned I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Maybe it’s just because I’m still running a fever and feeling quite detached from both the world and my own body, but the body horror—grotesque though it is—did not hit me as hard as I was expecting. What struck me and stuck with me far more intensely was how delightfully inexplicable I found the protagonist’s disturbing level of dedication to her dying husband. I don’t want to spoil what happens in any part of this book—it is so brief, and so strange, and I think surely best experienced without too much forewarning—but I must say that the emotional state of its characters was truly beyond my ken. This, I must also say, is what made Helpmeet such a great read. Depending on who you are and how you have experienced love, I expect there are many ways to receive this story. I doubt there’s any one particular best way. There are, of course, a few features I think should be evident to all readers. Ruthnum’s lovely prose, of course, at once a reasonable pastiche of a bygone style and possessed of a fluid, pleasantly readable modernity—a tidy balancing act, nicely pulled off in a way that perfectly suits the story and its setting. The hazy, eerie calm of the way every character who matters accepts everything that happens, no matter how distressing—this is nearly as unsettling as the devoted wife’s lack of concern regarding the worst of her husband’s past actions. The startlingly fantastical ending—truly not where I would have expected this to go. This is a strange little chimera of a book, holding many different possibilities and reflecting, I expect, more than a little of what the reader brings into the reading. I think this is the kind of book that will stick around in my memory long after reading. At this point I am still quite ill—thankfully, less revoltingly so than the husband in Helpmeet—and perhaps when I have recovered I will find that this story takes on a new shape in my mind. I’m looking forward to finding out, and maybe even to reading it again in a less feverish state. I’d recommend this one to anyone with a strong stomach—or, perhaps, an illness-induced detachment from things physical—and anyone who likes to contemplate the most dire frontiers of attachment.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lees

    Intensely upsetting in its imagery yet heartfelt and romantic and HUMAN. Love it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    Body horror, but poignant - to be really reductive, it reads like something Kazuo Ishiguro might write after binging early Barker and Cronenberg. ‘The Remains of the Day and Also My Face’.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joseph (Kevin) Lewis

    Helpmeet is a subtle well-written historical novella (85 pgs.) set in the early 20th century that examines the relationship between Louise and Edward. The relationship slowly morphs into something more hideous than the obvious marital infidelity. Nabeen has a gift of luring you in with well-placed prose that communicate intimacy and mystery. Whether the title of the book has biblical roots (possibly Adam and Eve allusions) or just a term familiar around 1900, doesn't stop it from becoming the ce Helpmeet is a subtle well-written historical novella (85 pgs.) set in the early 20th century that examines the relationship between Louise and Edward. The relationship slowly morphs into something more hideous than the obvious marital infidelity. Nabeen has a gift of luring you in with well-placed prose that communicate intimacy and mystery. Whether the title of the book has biblical roots (possibly Adam and Eve allusions) or just a term familiar around 1900, doesn't stop it from becoming the central theme of the book in a very grotesque way. Support Independent authors - purchased through Undertow Publications.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Thompson

    Louise Wilk's husband, Edward, is literally wasting away. The couple move to Edward's childhood home so he can spend his few remaining days there. But as Edward's illness becomes stranger, what seems like a wasting disease is revealed to be something much darker. I tottled through the first third of this novella in the warm glow of familiar fiction. Louise is a sympathetic character, and shows admirable strength. But then when things got a little, shall we say, nauseating, my interest immediatel Louise Wilk's husband, Edward, is literally wasting away. The couple move to Edward's childhood home so he can spend his few remaining days there. But as Edward's illness becomes stranger, what seems like a wasting disease is revealed to be something much darker. I tottled through the first third of this novella in the warm glow of familiar fiction. Louise is a sympathetic character, and shows admirable strength. But then when things got a little, shall we say, nauseating, my interest immediately picked up. Helpmeet is totally unconventional, and genuinely surprised me on multiple occasions. Body horror can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, but Helpmeet is exquisitely written, and never gratuitous. I went into Helpmeet knowing absolutely nothing about the book, and was thrilled to be dragged along for the ride. Undertow release consistently great fiction, and here is another sublime book to add to their impressive catalog.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Silva

    Instantly can say that this is one of the scariest books I've ever read. Period. There are so many aspects of this book that make it a masterfully put-together piece of literature. For starters, this is a short book. The visual dance your mind goes on as you read is perfectly nuanced by Ruthnum's word choices. Secondly, the incredible attention to detail in the right places where the horror sings and the dread creeps in like music in the background. Thirdly, Undertow Publications did a phenomenal Instantly can say that this is one of the scariest books I've ever read. Period. There are so many aspects of this book that make it a masterfully put-together piece of literature. For starters, this is a short book. The visual dance your mind goes on as you read is perfectly nuanced by Ruthnum's word choices. Secondly, the incredible attention to detail in the right places where the horror sings and the dread creeps in like music in the background. Thirdly, Undertow Publications did a phenomenal job in its treatment of the layout and cover design. This isn't for the faint of heart. It packs a wallop even in its slow-burn aesthetic. The body horror is legitimately uncomfortable in the stand-up-and-take-a-break kind of way. That being said, this is in my top ten favorite books now. Please do yourselves a favor and buy this, especially in the physical form. It's gorgeous.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Read this one this afternoon in a single go and I feel like we're not talking about this one enough. Comparisons on the back cover-- to classic authors and modern masters like Barker and Cronenberg are entirety fitting. The top shelf horror fiction. Read this one this afternoon in a single go and I feel like we're not talking about this one enough. Comparisons on the back cover-- to classic authors and modern masters like Barker and Cronenberg are entirety fitting. The top shelf horror fiction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    What a beautiful book. I was a bit apprehensive going in at the repeated reviews bringing up "extreme body horror," but there was nothing splatter or gratuitous about this. Ruthnum describes the horror which Edward's body undergoes with as much gentleness and care as Edward's wife Louise takes care of him. Lovely, lovely writing. What a beautiful book. I was a bit apprehensive going in at the repeated reviews bringing up "extreme body horror," but there was nothing splatter or gratuitous about this. Ruthnum describes the horror which Edward's body undergoes with as much gentleness and care as Edward's wife Louise takes care of him. Lovely, lovely writing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Niloufar-Lily Soltani

    I read beautiful reviews here that leave not much more to add. The setting and rich prose grant the reader the classics feel, while the modern style and the pace keep the contemporary reader intrigued. Depicting the gruesomeness of witnessing the demise of a sick companion requires some cruelty, a powerful mind and skills that Naben Ruthhnum has demonstrated with this novella. I felt nostalgic not just because I remembered my youth reading Kafka but also because I felt Sadegh Hedayet. For us, Pe I read beautiful reviews here that leave not much more to add. The setting and rich prose grant the reader the classics feel, while the modern style and the pace keep the contemporary reader intrigued. Depicting the gruesomeness of witnessing the demise of a sick companion requires some cruelty, a powerful mind and skills that Naben Ruthhnum has demonstrated with this novella. I felt nostalgic not just because I remembered my youth reading Kafka but also because I felt Sadegh Hedayet. For us, Persians, Hedayat and Kafka were both surrealist novelists. It gives me hope that writers like Naben Ruthum will keep them alive.

  23. 5 out of 5

    The BGR

    Let's just say that while reading this book and after reading this book; and even now, writing this review, I have a very serious thinking face on. Helpmeet is quite compelling, definitely eerie, a little chilling, very well-written and confusing, at least to me. I definitely liked the exploration of a (more-than) dysfunctional marriage merged with caretaking (and the actual horror it produces), but I felt a little lost on the premise, or this "third" entity (without giving too much away). And ma Let's just say that while reading this book and after reading this book; and even now, writing this review, I have a very serious thinking face on. Helpmeet is quite compelling, definitely eerie, a little chilling, very well-written and confusing, at least to me. I definitely liked the exploration of a (more-than) dysfunctional marriage merged with caretaking (and the actual horror it produces), but I felt a little lost on the premise, or this "third" entity (without giving too much away). And maybe that's just it, this "third" entity is the rotting, the filth, anthropomorphized into a flower, something, as desire, that appears beautiful but is not, is deadly, all-consuming, disgusting. The wrong thing, the wrong acts and emotions and desires realized as something real and truly horrible. (I'm working it out as I write I guess; like I said, it definitely leaves a residue) Helpmeet is a novelette, short, but there's much here—there's a lot being said. Original concept that kind of reminded me of the first Hellraiser movie, that bloodied thing becoming more human as it fed on others. Wow, just interesting. Thanks Edelweiss: I first read it here!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Addison Rizer

    It’s like Jane Austen and body horror came together to create this weird, unsettling, and strangely beautiful novella. I was tense the entire time. Liked it a lot.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adamsfall

    This was one of the most incredible novellas I’ve ever read. Deeply unsettling and masterfully crafted. From beginning to end, a perfect experience.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ian Bain

    Weird Body horror in the style of late 19th century gothic. Ruthnum is a master with prose. Helpmeet is sure to make waves in Horror.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Derek Nason

    Superb. Gentle, yet somehow explosive prose. It’s the simple, short sentences that break your heart the hardest.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hayden

    Strange, short body horror read that truly feels like some bit of lost weird fiction from yesteryear (or yester-yesteryear).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found it really gross to the point I had to stop eating dinner while reading it, which is cool! 😄 It was generally a really fun read. But I feel like I’m missing something about the ending. Why did she want to be connected and a part of this man when he seemed to have few redeeming qualities. Like, he never sounded too much of a catch. Not enough to want to be joined together with him…it just didn’t make too much sense to me but i still enjoyed

  30. 5 out of 5

    Briar Page

    Radically shifts genres about two thirds of the way through; to say more would be to spoil a strange, wonderful surprise. The title is more sincere than you might expect: what at first looks like a body horror period piece in which Cronenbergian mutation destroys a marriage turns out to be a body horror period piece in which Cronenbergian mutation *saves* a marriage.

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