“I was made for him,” (Valente 5).
Sophia lives a perfect life in Arcadia Gardens. She has the perfect husband who she was made for, something she can so easily feel in her bones. But her husband has an important job and is away from her so often, she misses him so much. But he is perfect, everything is perfect. Except for the hair brush in the drawer and the lock of hair beside it that isn’t hers, the locked basement she isn’t allowed to go into because it isn’t finished yet but soon, soon it will be finished. And her perfectly lovely neighbours won’t answer her questions. But everything is perfect, and Sophia is happy. Right?
I was so excited for Catherynne M. Valente’s Comfort Me With Apples, it’s gotten some great reviews online and the promise of a shocking twist was too great for me to pass up. I’m a fan of Valente, I adored Radiance and her most recent short story L’Esprit de L’Escalier on Tor, she always puts such meaning into every name and character in her works and Comfort Me With Apples is no different. The story balances between fairy tale and something else I can’t say without giving the whole thing away, which is most likely why it wasn’t for me. I saw where the story was going fairly early on so there wasn’t a twist, people with a certain upbringing will be able to pick it up. I did enjoy the nods and hints in the characters names to what was coming. I also appreciated the point Valente was making and it did chill me, a new perspective of an old story. I was a bit confused by the ending, more interested in what comes next, though technically I already know what comes next.
Valente creates an enticing mystery in this story as pieces of the puzzle slowly click into place, even guessing what was coming I enjoyed watching it all fit together. And Valente does an excellent job writing the horror in this, a slow dread that tickles at the back of your neck, the full affects of it not felt until the image is shown in a chilling revelation.
I wish I didn’t have to be so vague, I understand how this story will surprise some readers so I don’t want to spoil it. While Comfort Me With Apples wasn’t for me, Valente’s prose shines like always and her words keep reader’s hooked and eager to read on to what happens next, even if you can predict what it is.
Publication: November 9th 2021
Pages: 112 pages (Hardcover)
Genre: Fiction, Novella, Fantasy, Mystery
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤
“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? ”