Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Review: The Handyman Method by Nick Cutter, Andrew F. Sullivan


The Handyman Method by Nick Cutter, Andrew F. Sullivan
Gallery/Saga Press
Publication Date: August 8th, 2023
Hardcover. 304 pages.

About The Handyman Method:

"A chilling domestic story of terror for fans of Black Mirror and The Amityville Horror.

When a young family moves into an unfinished development community, cracks begin to emerge in both their new residence and their lives, as a mysterious online DIY instructor delivers dark subliminal suggestions about how to handle any problem around the house. The trials of home improvement, destructive insecurities, and haunted house horror all collide in this thrilling story perfect for fans of Nick Cutter’s bestsellers The Troop and The Deep.

Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan have been on my radar for a while, but I had yet to read any of their work and was really excited to get a chance to read The Handyman Method!

I loved the general premise of this book: a young family moves into a new house in what is eventually going to become an idyllic, family-oriented suburban community, but right now they are seemingly the first ones there. The house seems perfect at first (barring a front yard that is not landscaped to our dad/husband, Trent's, preferences), but there soon seems to be an almost never-ending list of odd problems that keep popping up in need of improvement. Trent discovers an online handyman known as Handyman Hank who just so happens to have videos for almost every home improvement project Trent has (I think we can all relate to having used Youtube at some point in our lives to help us solve or fix something), and Trent is soon sucked into Handyman Hank's tips, which start to become about more than just tips for around the house. Unfortunately for the Saban family, things start getting more and more out of their control and things take some shifts.

As much as I loved this premise, it did end up working out for me quite as I’d hoped it would. For one, I honestly didn’t find any of the characters all that interesting or likable. The kid, XX, is the closest to interesting, but for some reason I just felt like I was held at an arm’s distance with him. The husband is also meant to be unlikable (or at least I would assume that’s intentional), and as much as I tend to enjoy unlikable characters, he was unlikable to the point that I almost struggled to read from his perspective because I just could not stand him. There were one too many annoyances that really bothered me, which ended up being a bit of a hurdle for me and my enjoyment of The Handyman Method.

In addition to the husband being unlikable, I also felt as though his hostility really permeated the entire story to where the entire book felt quite aggressive and this put me off a little bit, as it left me feeling angry and frustrated. Anger is clearly a central part of this book, but it left me feeling like I couldn’t quite get invested in this book in a meaningful way. I always give credit to books that are so well written that they are able to effectively make me feel strong emotions, but unfortunately this one leaned too much into frustration for me to enjoy it.

The pacing for The Handyman Method also felt a bit off. Things often seemed to go from zero to 100 extremely quickly and in ways that didn’t make sense to me because they didn’t feel fully developed. Similarly, the lack of build up to certain points ended up feeling choppy rather than impactful, and left the story lacking a better flow from one moment to the next. There never really seemed to be any time to get your bearings, and not in a good way.

What The Handyman Method did do incredibly successfully, however, was create a wonderfully creepy haunting atmosphere full of the unexpected and disturbing. I delighted in wandering around this house and wondering what problem was going to pop up next. The authors truly know how to create a sense of dread for just what our characters are going to do next–or what they will be confronted with next–and it is these elements that make me excited to try out some other books from them.

This is not a book for the fainthearted, as there are plenty of tough topics covered, as well as plenty of gore and just plain gross moments that will surely keep you awake. There are plenty of tough topics covered, plenty of gore, and honestly just some just plain gross moments that I think will either keep you hooked or turn you off from the book. As an additional note, there is an animal death in here that was extremely graphic and difficult to read, so just a head’s up for that.

All that being said, this is definitely a book that will be memorable for me and I still absolutely plan to check out more work from Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan in the future. I didn't love The Handyman Method as much as I'd hoped to, but not every book is a good fit for everyone, so hopefully the next ones will be! If you're looking for a horror that will constantly surprise you and is sure to throw all sorts of terrifying things at you, then The Handyman Method is the book for you to check out next. Overall, I've given The Handyman Method three stars!

*I received a copy of The Handyman Method courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

1 comment:

  1. The premise sounds so good, but yours is the second less than enthusiastic review I've read, so I'll probably pass (plus animal death, nope!)