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The Handyman Method - Nick Cutter & Andrew F. Sullivan (Haley Strassburger)

Updated: Apr 24


-Release date: August 8, 2023

-Genre: horror, thriller, mystery

-Saga Press


Note: I received an advance reader’s edition of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; as always, my thoughts are my own. Thank you to Cassidy Sattler in particular for sending me a copy!


Did you know that home renovations could be haunted? I certainly didn’t realize just how dangerous it could be to repair a window or seal up a crack in the wall… that is, until I started reading The Handyman Method last week! It’s a co-authored horror book from two rising stars in the genre: Nick Cutter, best known for titles like The Deep and The Troop, and Andrew F. Sullivan, whose fungal horror novel The Marigold released earlier this year to overwhelming critical and popular acclaim. The Handyman Method follows the young Saban Family— composed of patriarch Trent, his wife Rita, and their iPad-obsessed son Milo— as they move into a seemingly-pristine house in an unfinished development community, and things start to go horribly wrong. Trent, recently on leave from the law firm he worked at with his wife, becomes obsessed with DIY home repair videos; he dives deep into construction projects, eager to push the incident that led to his leave of absence down into his muddled memories. Milo follows in his father’s footsteps, too; he’s quickly consumed by the puppet creatures in his programs, despite the worrying whispers they’re feeding into his ears. And Rita? Well, she’s hiding an even more sinister secret.


I loved this book— despite (or perhaps in spite of!) the way I hated protagonist Trent’s hyper-masculinity and cringe-worthy machismo from day one. His repulsive inner monologue sets the tone for the book at large, and it was a wild ride to explore how his aggressive tendencies— and plenty of intense and illogical actions against those around him— unfolded throughout the story. I’ve never read any of Nick Cutter’s books (trust me, I will soon! I’ve seen hype for him all over TikTok, and I love checking out recent trends), but Andrew F. Sullivan’s The Marigold is by far one of my favorite reads of 2023. I went into The Handyman Method with fairly high expectations, and honestly, this book exceeded my hopes! I love how the two authors’ styles blended together perfectly to create a twisty tale that dabbles in a variety of genres— from body horror, to paranormal tropes, and even delving into the digital omens hoping to escape from the confines of our smartphones.


Perhaps the most gripping part of this story emerged through the character of Handyman Hank— the host of a YouTube channel The Handyman Method, who starts with only a couple of fix-it videos and soon expands into podcasts, playlists, and a never-ending voice echoing inside Trent’s head. This was such an inventive way to introduce Trent’s descent into insanity, and it was a brilliant and well-executed choice that kept me guessing. I don’t want to give anything away about the ending, because this one is definitely worth a read, but let me just say: you’ll start doubting what’s real, what’s fiction, and what’s just plain fucked-up.


I’ve been on a weird kick of coming up with comp lists lately, and for The Handyman Method, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few of my favorite stories/films/shows while reading, so here goes! First, this book exuded the vibes of Soft Target by Carson Winter, a horror novella that released earlier in 2023 from Tenebrous Press and forced readers to confront the mundanity of office jobs alongside intrusive thoughts. Plus, the haunted-house mystery vibes made me think of cult-classic movie The Babadook (especially with the added bonus of a creepy little kid). Finally (and this is a deep cut, sorry!), I started thinking about one of my favorite episodes of the early-2000s TV show Angel, “Smile Time”— where the Sesame-Street-esque puppets start talking to the hapless children who can’t resist tuning in. If any of these comps appeal to you— or you’re just looking for a gripping new horror story— I 100% recommend picking up The Handyman Method today!


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