Reviews

  • "A chilling novel from a blazing talent...in addition to being a cerebral meditation on motherhood at its most elemental – fierce, beatific, sanity-thieving – it’s an adroitly executed thriller with a quasi-sci-fi twist. Mercilessly tense throughout, its opening chapter is a belter... A bracingly singular achievement, it’s surreal, blackly comic and ultimately generous."

    Hephzibah Anderson, Observer
  • "[A] frenzied fever dream of a novel. Read it as a sci-fi thriller, or understand it instead as metaphorical; either way, it’s a page-turner… magnificent... This is a smart, sharp book that cuts to the heart of what it’s like to be a mother"

    Lucy Scholes, Financial Times
  • "Phillips can conjure pure nightmare in a single sentence… Thrillingly disturbing, frighteningly insightful about motherhood and love, and spilling over with offhand invention, The Need is one of this year’s most necessary novels."

    Sarah Ditum, Guardian
  • "The atmosphere is as close and taut as a thriller, but this is, in fact, both a highly original examination of grief and an extraordinarily vivid evocation of motherhood -- the moments of terror and hilarity, the visceral burden of it, and the fleeting, but almost transcendent, joy"

    Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
  • "

    Helen Phillips’s novel begins to reveal itself, veering away from what looks initially like conventional suspense into something more speculative and philosophical with nods to both sci-fi and horror...
    the what-ifs animate this novel, the narrative splitting and looping back on itself as it tries out parallel possibilities, various fantasies and nightmares... frightening and maddening and full of dark comedy.. Phillips, as careful with language as she is bold with structure, captures many small sharp truths

    "

    New York Times
  • "The Need is a profound meditation on the nature of reality, a fearless examination of parenthood, and also somehow a thriller. This is an extraordinary and dazzlingly original work from one of our most gifted and interesting writers"

    Emily St. John Mandel
  • "Phillips writes exceptionally well of the insatiable demands two young children can make on a mother... yet this is also a horror story about the vulnerability of motherhood that doubles up as a love letter to the miracle existence of children. At the same time, Phillips consistently plays tricks with the reader's perspective...and with the possibility of parallel realities, rooted in a mother's worst possible fears, playing out at the level of science fiction... One of the most heart-stopping motherhood novels you'll read all year"

    Metro
  • "So smart and brave about motherhood... Molly's struggle to remain her full self while giving so much away is electrifying... Mothers will recognize so much in this fresh novel -- but they aren't the only ones who should read it. Phillips has found a way to make these experiences universal"

    Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post
  • "An enthralling book. With its short chapters, unsettling prose and riveting suspense, it feels designed for binge-reading. But keep an eye on the clock. Immersion in this novel before bedtime is a recipefor sleeplessness."

    Economist
  • "It’s a classic opening: a woman hears an intruder in her home while her husband is away, grabs her two young kids and hides in terror. But the true power of Helen Phillips’ brilliantly paced thriller emerges when Molly, a paleobotanist, comes face to face with the only person in the world who can shake her identity as a mother—a person who brings her to question her very reality. Phillips taps into the overwhelming anxiety that comes with love in its deepest, truest form, a sense of fierce protectiveness one need not be a parent to understand"

    Lucy Feldman, Time's Best Fiction Books 2019