“There’s a secret at the heart of every marriage.”
The Handyman Method is a wickedly brutal horror novel coauthored by Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan that provides a heinous twist on the classic haunted house theme while delivering equal doses of hilarity and horror.
As the novel opens, the young Saban family moves into a newly constructed home in an unfinished, isolated neighborhood. Despite being new, the house seems to be falling apart, starting with an enormous crack that Trent and Rita Saban discover in their walk-in closet. The crack itself is concerning, but not nearly as disturbing as what they find hidden inside.
To address these problems, Trent consults a series of YouTube videos by Handyman Hank. The YouTube star apparently has the solution to every problem, extending well beyond the domain of home repair.
But Hank also promotes old-fashioned toxic masculinity through subliminal messages that are readily absorbed by Trent. Handyman Hank becomes an increasingly nefarious figure as the book progresses, with his videos becoming more personalized for Trent’s specific situations. Before long, Trent is a pickup truck-driving, contractor card-carrying tough guy complaining to his disbelieving wife that she doesn’t understand how difficult it is to be a man.
The Handyman Method is a cutting satire of home improvement culture, featuring several side-splitting trips to Home Depot that highlight the one-upmanship of the Y chromosome crowd who compete to display the highest levels of testosterone-fueled manliness.
The Handyman Method is both a hilarious and horrifying read. I couldn’t stop laughing at the authors’ brutal takedown of Infowars-style toxic masculinity. At the same time, there are some truly excruciating scenes that made me wince in pain. This is the rare horror book that elicits genuine tears of both agony and laughter.
The collaboration between Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan is seamless. Their writing is ferociously funny and unrelentingly brutal. Cutter and Sullivan also give a unique spin on the classic haunted house trope, reaching a level of dread that I didn’t think possible. I was truly shocked by several of the plot twists, especially in relation to the house’s history.
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.
Review originally published at Grimdark Magazine.