Just Like Mother

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Pub Date 26 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 13 Apr 2023

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Description

The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in.

For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything - and everyone - at a safe distance.

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she's ever had. Soon she's spending more time at Andrea's remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn't even mind that her cousin's wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry - baby fever comes with the territory.

What worries Maeve is that the more she immerses herself in Andrea's world, the more her long-buried memories flood to the surface. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come...

Spine-chilling and sharp, Anne Heltzel's Just Like Mother is a modern gothic from a fresh new voice in horror.

The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in.

For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps...


Advance Praise

'Set to be one of the year's most talked about books. I tore through this urgent, timely, and deeply disturbing tale... And I'll think of it every time I field an uncomfortable question about my own childless status' - Andrea Bartz, New York Times bestselling author

'A fierce, frightening novel that examines autonomy, motherhood, and the dark side of feminine power with savage precision. A total thrill ride' - Rachel Harrison, author of The Return and Cackle

'Lyrical and grotesque, Just Like Mother is written in gorgeous and shattering prose' - CrimeReads

'Heltzel's probing exploration of women's bodily autonomy – or lack thereof – makes this a solid choice for those who like their horror close to home' - Publishers Weekly

'A fast-paced, creepy, and unpredictable adventure that shines an unsettling light on motherhood and family ties. A page-turner from start to finish' - Booklist

'Set to be one of the year's most talked about books. I tore through this urgent, timely, and deeply disturbing tale... And I'll think of it every time I field an uncomfortable question about my own...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780857308436
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)
PAGES 320

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Average rating from 23 members


Featured Reviews

Finally, the hot summer of 2023 has come to an end. I am a real homebody when it comes down to it, and as the days get shorter and autumn makes its first appearance, I am all too happy to crawl on the sofa with a good horror novel.

I really wanted to read Just like Mother because - even as a child - I am terrified of dolls. Even as a child, I used to cook my barbies, bury them in the garden or cut off all their hair. And it worked out really well, don't worry: I am a mother of 3 grown-up children who are doing just fine in life.
To this day, I don't like dolls. I find them scary. Put simply. And Chucky seriously scares the crap out of me.
I was eager to read this book because I was under the impression that this was a horror story about (fear of) dolls, at least that's what the cover insinuates.

Maeve is working in the publishing industry. A 'friend from the past', one Andrea contacts her to renew old ties, and Maeve is then invited to come and stay with Andrea and her husband Rob for a few days. They have recently bought a grand mansion in the Catskill mountains, and Maeve is most welcome to stay over for a while.
Andrea is the CEO of newLife, a counselling programme that guides expectant mothers through pregnancy and their upcoming role as mothers. The programme also offers grief counselling for mothers who experienced the loss of their baby after birth.

POV alternates between Andrea and Maeve during their stay in the Catskill mountains, intermingled with flashbacks going back to both women's traumatic childhoods. Andrea grew up in the foster care system, while Maeve was adopted by loving parents.

I have rarely read such a gruesome, weird, and highly unusual story. Sweet bejesus, what an utterly terrifying book!
I see influences of one of my favourite writers: Shirley Jackson. The rituals and magic that keep life somewhat doable and orderly, and for a moment it seemed like Merricat was making an appearance in this setting!
I was glued to my Kindle and halfway through I was more aware of things happening than poor Maeve was - I felt like shouting at my Kindle to warn her. About halfway through it gets really intense and at times quite grim and unsavoury - and I didn't see the twist at the end coming at all.

A perfect fusion of the famous Shirley Jackson vibe and Hitchockian suspense. A sublime horror story -eerie & gruesome, and a perfect terrifying read for the long autumn nights ahead!
And my advice before reading: all dolls out of the house!

***** 5 stars.

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I raced through this book in two days (only stopping because I needed to sleep and work because being an adult sucks). It was such a wonderful take on the horror genre that is cult-based. There were times when I wanted to SCREAM at the main character to THINK and get herself out of situations. It felt like watching a horror movie where you are screaming at the TV, which I love to do regularly. I enjoyed the characters and the sheer intensity that surrounded the whole book. And….it was downright creepy. I had been looking forward to this one for ages and the cover had drawn me in instantly. It did not disappoint. Addictive.

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC. I really wanted to read this last year when it was released in the US and was so excited when I saw it on NetGalley!

This is a horror/thriller/literary fiction novel following Maeve who escaped from a cult called “The Mother Collective” when she was eight years old. She has spent years trying to find her cousin Andrea who was also removed from the cult as they were separated during the raid. After pretty much giving up hope Maeve receives a message from Andrea on a DNA ancestry website and the two connect again. Before she knows it she’s immersed in Andrea’s world in her upstate New York mansion surrounded by robot babies. Yes you read that right. Andrea is CEO of NewLife which is a life coaching company that mainly focuses on motherhood and has recently developed a line of AI babies to support grieving mothers and to prepare expectant mothers. As Maeve continues to spend time at the mansion she realises that certain things echo her past and that she might need to confront it to survive what happens next.

This was extremely interesting and had a lot of interesting commentary on motherhood and womanhood in general. The main character doesn’t want children while her cousin and her friends are obsessed with being mothers and having babies as they feel that is “all women are made for” which creates some interesting conversations and conflicts. The plot itself was well paced, I read this in pretty much one sitting because I wanted to see what happened at the end. I wouldn’t say this novel is scary per se, it’s definitely eerie though and you can tell something is wrong beneath the perfect veneer of Andrea’s life.

In terms of characters I thought Maeve was a good main character and definitely very strong for the most part but at times she could be extremely naive. I as the reader could see what was going on, the red flags were just coming at her and she was completely ignoring them which seemed out of character for me. So many of the twists were obvious and if there’s one thing I hate it’s waiting for the character to understand something I already do.

Apart from that the writing was really beautiful and the plot was unique and thought provoking. I definitely recommend this if you like the sound of the premise. I would describe this book as a car crash (in a good way), you want to but you can’t look away. It gets very dark at times so please check trigger warnings. This will be released on 26th September this year so go ahead and pre order it!

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Women cult leaders and reproductive rights seem a popular topic for writers (E.g Growing season, Helen sedgewick, silence project, The power naomi alderson) - or maybe its just my choice of books.
However Ms Heltzel managed to carve out her own path, and I whizzed through the well written novel with a clever ending. Although on reflection the day after, I realise I'm not sure of the Mother's beliefs or the motives for many of their actions, which is a shame.
Thank you to netgalley and Verve for an advance copy of this book.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4

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I've been loving this book's title and the creepy doll cover of this book since it first released.

I was honestly underwhelmed by the first three quarters of the book because it feels like you're just waiting for the train wreck to come. It's wasn't nail biting so much as annoying that Maeve couldn't see what I could.

But the last part was fantastic and creeped me the f*** out. The book's take on motherhood/womanhood is chilling and I'm definitely going to be thinking about this for a while.

Thanks to Netgalley and Verve Books for the e-copy!

3.5/5

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Well, this is a bit of a wild ride!

SYNOPSIS:

"The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in. For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything—and everyone—at a safe distance.

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she’s ever had. Soon she’s spending more time at Andrea’s remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn’t even mind that her cousin’s wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry—baby fever comes with the territory."

MY THOUGHTS:

🤰🏻 This story eerie explores the complexities of mother-daughter bonds.

🤰🏻 Heltzel skillfully portrays the complexities, conflicts, and unconditional love that can exist within these bonds, mainly through the protagonist Maeve.

🤰🏻 Maeve and Andrea's relationship is utterly intriguing and mysterious, which made for compulsive reading.

🤰🏻 Heltzel blends psychological suspense with literary fiction, which made this such an addictive story.

🤰🏻 As Maeve start to unravel the truth about her past and attempts to understand her present reality, we soon discover there's a web of secrets, manipulation, and hidden motives that keep you turning the pages.

🤰🏻 I loved Heltzel's writing, it's so vivid, descriptive, immersive and atmospheric, it's this style that made the book feel like horror, suspense with a large splash of contemporary fic.

🤰🏻 Not only does this story explore motherhood, but it also digs deep into the sense of identity, belonging, nature vs nurture and the perceptions of truth and reality.

🤰🏻 The writing, the premise, the protagonist, and the dark plot twists make this such a compelling read that stayed with me for a while after reading.

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This book had me so uneasy and on edge the entire time I was reading it. Two of my favourite feelings 😉 I knew the shit was going to hit the fan and almost everyone in this book knows it too apart from our MC which builds a solid amount of tension alongside delivering the reader with a hefty sense of guilt and frustration as you sit back and slowly watch her entire world unravel. Taking a good look at society’s views of femininity and womanhood, I absolutely love that the author took an attitude which still strongly circulates today and turned it into a cult full of fanatics!! If you like the sound of Rosemarys Baby mixed with The Handmaids Tale and a dollop of Servant then this is the book for you.

I have this book 4.5 stars

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This book was crazy, a wild ride from start to finish! I kinda realised what was going to happen before it started but it was so much more f**ked up than I could have anticipated! It was amazing, I couldn't put this book down.
The pacing is perfect and I was literally left speechless at the end! As if the cult element wasn't bad enough we have creepy as all hell AI dolls 👀
An intense build up to a quick spiral and a jaw dropping ending this one left my skill crawling! I highly recommend to horror lovers. An easy ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ from me and I will be investing in a physical copy for my shelf 👶

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Wow! The amount of times in the early stages I internally said WTF and stopped to tell whoever I was in the room with. I did guess part of what was to come but the way it built up and was executed was done so well. Then the end… will there be a sequel?! 5 stars and cannot wait to read more of this author. Many thanks to Netgalley for this ARC.

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There's a lot to like in this book: solid story, flowing prose, great premise, fascinating characters. It does follow a certain pattern, however, so it's a bit predictable in places; still, I consider this predictability a strength, since it enhances the relatability of the situations described. Motherhood and womanhood both seem more and more like a straining exercise into anxiety psychology nowadays, and the author has a special gift bringing this out. Coupled with the A.I. Dolls, this produces a creepy atmosphere throughout. The ending was superb and left me with no regrets. Huge thanks to NetGalley and VERVE BOOKS for giving me the chance to review this book!

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