In THE HANDYMAN METHOD by Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan, a man moves into a new home with his family, only to become obsessed with fixing its many deficiencies and by extension, his own manhood. I picked this one up after reading Sullivan’s THE MARIGOLD, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and after noting it was co-authored by Nick Cutter. I liked this one a lot.
In this story, Trent moves into a new house in an unfinished development with his successful wife Rita and son Milo. Soon after moving in, he notices a crack and turns to Handyman Hank, a YouTube DIY expert and all-around manly guy ready to offer home improvement advice along with his own aw-shucks wisdom about being a real man. As more things go wrong with the house, Trent finds himself immersing in Hank’s increasingly monstrous worldview, producing a horror story reminiscent of THE SHINING, if Jack Torrance were seduced by the toxic form of masculinity in order to solve his insecurities. He discovers he is a pawn, both in an ancient pact and of the house itself.
Some readers wanted more clarity in the narrative and a tidier landing, and I’m not sure I can argue with that, but I didn’t mind. I found the book a perfect blend of the authors’ strengths–Cutter’s fine skill at writing the horror set piece and Sullivan’s deep and provocative ideas that included his take on one of my favorite elements, the idea of a house within a house. Overall, I had a great time with this story. As with THE MARIGOLD, I appreciated Sullivan showing me something I hadn’t seen before along with his writing that again showed solid skill.
Check it out if you’re looking for something new from a haunted house story.