Title: The Handyman Method
Authors: Nick Cutter & Andrew F. Sullivan
Release date: August 8th, 2023
There’s no way I’m starting this review without saying A HUGE MASSIVE MASSIVE THANK YOU to Andrew F. Sullivan for moving mountains and getting me a digital ARC. I can’t thank you enough and I really, truly appreciate that!
It was back in 2014 when I discovered Nick Cutter through getting his novel, ‘The Troop.’ It was a phenomenal horror story and led me into rushing out and grabbing ‘The Deep.’ Since then, I’ve also dove into more of Nick’s work. I mean Craig’s. As many know – there’s still a few who don’t – Nick Cutter is a pseudonym for author Craid Davidson. Same with Patrick Lestewka, whose books I’ve also read. Between the three, I find myself drawn slightly more towards Craig’s literary approach, but if you want brutal and unhinged, Nick and Patrick are there for you.
As for Andrew F. Sullivan, it wasn’t until just last year, in 2022, that we connected and since then we’ve struck up a great friendship and having read his masterpiece, ‘The Marigold’ already, I know he’s an absolute beast of a writer. Which will answer the question some of you may be wondering – why’s Nick Cutter co-authoring a book with Andrew F. Sullivan? They answer that in the acknowledgements and the journey from initial conception to finished novel was fascinating and very interesting to read about. These two horror heavyweights have delivered a novel that’ll have you completed riveted from start to finish.
What I liked: On it’s surface (pun intended), the story appears pretty straightforward. Having recently been put on administrative leave, Trevor and his wife Rita have purchased a new house in a new development and move there with their son, Milo and his pet turtle, Morty.
But immediately things are not what they are supposed to be. There’s no sod. There’s a crack in the wall. And the house seems to be ‘dipping.’ Trevor, having no outlet now that he’s jobless, decides to take things into his own hands, and finds a Youtube channel, titled The Handyman Method, that will guide him through how to fix his house himself.
It’s here that Cutter (occasionally dipping into Lestewka territory) and Sullivan begin to have fun. There’s things in the walls. The man in the videos appears to be directly speaking to Trevor. Milo finds an odd structure in the woods with strange squirming things and a sink hole underneath. Morty begins to grow pink sludge. And Rita sees them unravelling and takes it in stride. Because she knows things and that layering, the texture of revelation works so well to create this chaotic, unnerving deception.
As we go further in the book, we see a mother doing everything she can to protect her son, and a father becoming completely unhinged and going so far off the deep end there can’t possibly be a way back. I do have to add, every single scene at Home Depot was a riot and the descriptions of the guys there and the interactions had me chuckling with their absurdity and accuracy.
Additionally, I really enjoyed the use of technology as a maddening device. Having a six-year-old son who watches random Youtube videos on his tablet, that had me smiling when Milo began to have his own experiences and it seemed so completely plausible.
The ending is fantastic and wraps it up really ‘nicely,’ and I use that word tentatively. This is a Cutter/Sullivan affair afterall.
What I didn’t like: I loved this one from start to finish, and what we learn worked so well for the overall story. Saying that, I found the discovery of the structure in the woods odd, when it was all said and done, because it didn’t seem to completely fit into the mythology that they’d built. The lore seems to have said one thing and this was something different? Not sure. Maybe it was a second one that was happening or maybe I just completely missed that!
Why you should buy this: This novel is a banger from beginning to end. It’s got a solid structure with the house and the family moving there, but this goes into so many different avenues that it’ll appeal to fans of every horror subgenre. We get some Barker-esque scenes, some brutality coupled with some truly emotional family moments – see Morty the turtle – and Cutter and Sullivan absolutely were writing this with huge grins on their faces. It comes off of each page. Two ultra-talented authors having a blast and subtly infusing this straight-ahead-horror story with elements of environmentalism, commercialism, the technology takeover and toxic masculinity. I had an absolute blast with this one and I think this one’s going to shoot off the shelves like a rocket come release day!