The Handyman Method

A Story of Terror

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Pub Date 08 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 08 Aug 2023
Simon & Schuster Canada, Gallery / Saga Press

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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.
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...

Advance Praise

Library Journal: “This story is full of moments, from the descriptive body horror to the cringeworthy acts committed by this seemingly normal family, that will burrow under readers’ skin.”

Gridmark Magazine: “The Handyman Method feels like an acid-tripping horror version of the classic sitcom Home Improvement. Overall, The Handyman Method is a riotous ride, delivering both a terrifying haunted house story and a biting satire of the male chauvinism that pervades home improvement culture.”

Library Journal: “This story is full of moments, from the descriptive body horror to the cringeworthy acts committed by this seemingly normal family, that will burrow under readers’ skin.”


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ISBN 9781982196714
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Average rating from 32 members

Featured Reviews

5 stars (that taste of peppermint and cotton candy)

First and Foremost, thank you to the Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a digital copy of this title in advance of its official release for an unbiased review.

This story begins as these types of stories do: a family (Trent & Rita - Lawyers, Milo the son with eccentric leanings and family pet, Morty the Turtle) pulls into the driveway of a newly developed house to begin a new life. Upon this arrival, you immediately get a sense that there is something not right with the family: wife is not terribly excited about the house, resists her husband's clumsy attempts to take her over the threshold. And the child is not too excited either. It is as if the circumstances upon which this family arroved on Dunsany estates was not normal.

Oh and the house is a fixer-upper as well. - no grass, and a crack in a wall. There are no neighbours (it is a lone plot - the first of a housing development grabbed at an excellent price) there are creepy structures and decrepit effigies out in the forest, slowly rotting, awaiting the bulldozer for when the rest of the housing is ready to be built. And from the developer - promises upon promises that the little perfections in the house are not that big of a deal (and their grass guy will be around in a few weeks once things have settled).

But that's okay: papa Trent, who is on administrative leave from his legal firm, will use this time to fix up the house himself (LIKE A MAN SHOULD BE ABLE TO FOR HIS FAMILY), using DIY Youtube videos from a channel hosted by Handyman Hank (THE BEST ADVICE ON HOME REPAIR AND MANY OTHER TOPICS CONCERNING BEING A MAN IN THIS MODERN TIMES). Trent's obsession with home repair is egged on by the Youtuber Hank (who seems to be speaking directly to him), while his family around him also start to deal with their own dissociations with this new life in this strange plot of land.

And it is here that you get a sense that not only are things not right with the family and the house, but that they are also about to get very wrong.

While Nick Cutter's horror catelogue has not been 100% hits with me (thinking about The Acolyte), I can totally appreciate that they take the reader on paths not often previously tread upon. In the case of The Handyman Method, it is a haunted house story, but with extra Lego pieces and electrical components fused into it to make this story feel more creepy. As for Sullivan - I have not had the chance to sample his wares yet - but I definetly will be looking into his catalogue soon!

Together, however, these authors pen a story that is creepy in a way that persists after you close the book and go out into the sunny outdoors. It is wonderfully gruesome as well. If you were to catching me reading this out in public, my rictus grimace may have you worried that there is something terrible going in my life, but no - it is simply a reaction to elements of the story.

There are a lot of previous horror inspirations in Sullivan and Cutter's The Handyman Method. Some are quite obvious as they offer tribute to the narrative forebearers.

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As I’ve said before, the best thing about horror is how open-ended it is as a genre. Authors are free to interpret its meaning any way they choose, and the results mean that we receive books all over the spectrum. From ghost stories and haunted houses, to torture, to slashers, to children’s horror and so forth, there’s lots for everybody who’s interested. Hell, it almost seems like there are sub-genres on top of sub-genres, even if there aren’t that many. This is why I get so excited about new horror books, because I never know what to expect.

After reading through Craig Davidson’s Saturday Night Ghost Club, which was excellent, I decided to start The Handyman Method. That’s his next, and upcoming, book with Andrew F. Sullivan as co-author. However, unlike the former novel, this one carries one of his pen names that may be very familiar to you: Nick Cutter, aka. the author of The Troop, Little Heaven and more. If you haven’t heard of him before, he’s a pretty popular horror novelist, especially within the online community.

The Handyman Method is a dark, disturbing and very well written haunted house story, which borrows from some of the greats like Amityville Horror. It centres upon the Saban family, which consists of thirty-somethings Trent and Rita, as well as their young son, Milo. Together, they’ve bought and moved into a brand new home. It’s the first of its kind in the development, which the builders say will be completed in a couple of years, so everything around them is barren outside of some foundations. Hell, their lawn doesn’t even have any sod or grass on it. It’s just dirt!

Upon moving into what should be a beautiful new home, Trent discovers that there’s a crack in their walk-in closet in the master bedroom. He gets angry, like anyone would, but decides to fix it himself because he thinks the builders are incompetent and may not get to it soon enough. This begins a downward spiral in which Trent begins to see issues everywhere and starts to get fixated on being the required handyman to his own new build home.

From the start, Trent relies on how-to-videos on YouTube, and also becomes obsessed with those made by a burly and misogynistic man named Hank. Handyman Hank seems to upload new videos all the time, and there’s always one for the task at hand so that’s all Trent watches. Then, he becomes unable to do anything without listening to Hank, who has a lot to say about women, the youth of today, how a man should live and all of those things. It plays on Trent’s sanity, as does everything else going on.

You may be thinking: Why would I want to read a book about a man doing DIY home improvement? Because it’s a great book, and one of the best novels I’ve read in some time, not to mention a new personal favourite. Trent’s decent, and what his family goes through upon moving into this new home hooked me from start to finish and didn’t let go. There’s a lot here for folks who like haunted houses, descents into madness, family horror and the unknown, and it’s all really well done. That is, despite the fact that its main character is a man’s man who goes to Home Depot every day and buys tons of tools.

I grew up in a family where doing things yourself was the way to go, and I have a very handy father. I wasn’t born with a hammer in my hand, though, and am the least handy person around or close to it. Despite this, I really enjoyed my second Nick Cutter novel and will recommend it to many people.

This review will now come to a close, because I can’t think of much more to say without spoiling things and already worry that I’ve gone too far. Just know that The Handyman Method isn’t some boring home improvement book, and that it is the ‘Book of Terror’ advertised on the cover. It’s also a very well written novel, and one of the best horror stories I’ve ever read. Check it out when it drops in August!

This review is based on a copy of the book that we were provided with. Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Press and Simon and Schuster. Receiving a free copy did not sway my opinion.

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Absolutely horrifying! I am a regular horror book reader and this was by far the scariest, most disturbing book I’ve read in a long time. It gave me The Shining vibes, but amped way up. There were some parts that I actually had to skim. Other parts, I had to almost skip over completely because they were so disturbing.

Most horror novels take some time to get scary as the scene is set and the characters are introduced. This was not the case with this one. I made the mistake of starting it before bed thinking it would take some to time get scary and I was very mistaken. Every scene set me on edge, until some parts were more than I could handle. It kept me reading, however, because I just had to know how it was going to end! In short, I loved it!

Thank you so much Net Galley and Simon and Schuster Canada for sharing an ARC with me.

As with all horror, if you have any concerns make sure to check for trigger warnings.

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Serious creep factor reading this. Gruesome and chaotic throughout. A house slowly sinking and a family becoming unhinged while they try to navigate thRough their new realities. Classic horror at its finest.

Thank you a NetGalley for this arc

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