I knew kind of a little about the premise of this story before diving in. A haunted house tale, right? Well, no. On the surface you’d be forgiven for thinking this – four friends getting away from it all to a secluded and forgotten house in the middle of nowhere – the classic ingredients of a horror cocktail.
But Helminth is something so much more.
The story starts with our narrator, Rei, at the hospital with the parents of her best friend Abby who has been brutally attacked and is fighting for her life. Her husband was killed in this violent attack and Rei and Abby’s parents are obviously distraught.
But Abby pulls through (yay!). Of course her emotional well-being is severely strained by all this, and her therapist suggests getting away from it all. Luckily (or not) Rei inherited a place from her now-deceased parents that seems a perfect retreat. So the two of them and the other half of their friendship group from school, head off into the wilderness.
I should point out that during this initial set-up, things are already creepy. Strange visitors, stranger visions; you know things are going to get seriously fucked for these lot.
The house, when they finally arrive, has been seemingly abandoned for years. Worse still, the thing actually sits on its own island in the middle of a lake. The characters describe how picturesque the place is, but I was yelling at the pages for them to just turn round and go to a spa or something.
I can’t take you on a trip to Spoilersville but what I will say is that things begin to unnerve the group almost instantly. Rei thinks she can hear someone whispering her name, Abby starts acting weird, and there’s an old jar containing something wickedly horrid at the bottom of the lake. The contents of this jar are equal parts intriguing, gross, and terrifying.
Let’s just say if you enjoy tales of demented evil spirits, cults, and isolation then you’re going to love this.
I won’t say anything more about the plot because you’re better off going in cold with this one. But I found myself becoming almost obsessed with the story in the times I wasn’t devouring it. I thought the whole concept of the events that lead up to the finale was perfectly handled. I’m sure there are many foreshadowing elements I missed, ones that would become much clearer on a second read.
This is a terrifying and engrossing read that lingers in the mind and tastes a little foul on the tongue, in the most horrifically satisfying of ways.
Categories: book review