Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (review)

With elements of ancient origins and fairytale horror, Catherynne M. Valente has crafted Comfort Me With Apples, creating an unsettling tale of Sophia and her life in Arcadia Gardens.

From the first sentence, Arcadia Gardens makes an impression on the reader as an exclusive gated community, with intrusive and punitive rules with any infraction leading to expulsion. And in the midst of this seeming paradise, Sophia wakes each morning with thoughts of perfection and being made for her husband, even as doubts begin to set in. She goes through her daily routine in her oversized home, pleased by her husband’s status within the community but fretting with his long absences and puzzled by the unexpected. But no matter what clues are put in her way, Sophia is not prepared for what she will find.

Comfort Me With Apples reminds me of why I need to read more of Catherynne M. Valente’s work. It tempts me to make statements like “it plumbs the depths of the Western psyche” – though that is simultaneously limiting and overblown – since I had a strong reaction at my first sighting of the title and cover and, combined with the description, immediate impressions that held true, though in ways that created a creeping dread and twisted those expectations. 


Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente | McMillan-Tor/Forge, November 9, 2021 | ebook, 95 pages

This review refers to a temporary digital galley I voluntarily read through NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

Comfort Me With Apples is a terrifying new thriller from bestseller Catherynne M. Valente, for fans of Gone Girl and Spinning Silver

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?