Comfort Me With Apples
Written By Catherynne M Valente
Read By Karis Campbell
Published by Tordotcom and Dreamscape Media LLC

The Skinny – This puzzle box of a novella about a woman living in an exclusive gated community is a suspenseful, surprising little treat.


Sophia’s life is a paradise. She keeps her husband’s house in the Arcadia Gardens, the ultimate gated community, and even though he is away with work much of the time, he’s the perfect husband, who has given her the perfect life. She was made for him, and everything is perfect. But she begins notices cracks in the veneer of her supposedly perfect life. She finds a hairbrush that isn’t her’s and her neighbors seem just a bit too eager when they ask her if she’s happy. And then there’s the basement, which she is forbidden to enter. When Sophia’s perfect life begin to unravel, and the temptation to destroy the illusion becomes overpowering.
Giving much more of a description to this fast-paced and engaging novella would give away the game, but Valente’s luscious prose unfolds like a puzzle box, with Sophia’s narrative interposed with her contract from the unseen but all-powerful Arcadia Gardens Home Owners’ Association. It’s a clever trick that works beautifully. The story is a perfect novella length, giving just enough clues to resolve the mystery while keeping a sharp and suspenseful pace.
Karis Campbell’s narration is spot on, making this quick but engaging audiobook well worth the full credit, even if it only clocks in at a couple of hours of listening time. Each character is unique and distinct, and her read of their narration is subtle. She doesn’t give the game away, but still highlights all the incongruous and unsettling bits of Valente’s story.
Comfort Me With Apples was an unexpected and gripping little story that is well wroth your time, and works best if you go in not knowing the twist. It’s available in print, ebook and audiobook from all the usual retailers.

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