Review: “Comfort Me with Apples” by Catherynne M. Valente

Release Date: October 26, 2021
Publisher: Tordotcom
Genre: Fantasy

Description

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze…

But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?

My Thoughts

Well, this was a refreshing surprise! The cover copy is vague enough that I didn’t know what to expect going in, but the story has some decent twists and turns that I thoroughly enjoyed. Comfort Me With Apples reworks a well-known myth, but I can’t reveal which one without spoiling the story. Catherynne M. Valente offers clues early on, and she does a great job of dispensing information in such a way that it adds to the tension and ramps up the stress factor.

This is one of those times where the back cover copy does a real disservice to the material. Comping Comfort Me With Apples to Gone Girl isn’t doing the novella any favors. A better comp would be Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife, minus the thriller part. I think it needed more story meat to really hit the thriller mark. None of this is a ding on Valente’s novella, mind you. I loved it regardless of what the description had to say.

What makes this novella stand out from the crush of reworked myth stories is Valente’s narrative style. She opts for a kind of poetic prose, full of flowing, flowery text and unusual sentence structures. The very act of reading it was pleasurable in a way I don’t often experience. This is a quick read, but a great one.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.

Buy it at bookshop.org (affiliate link).

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