All I knew about Comfort Me With Apples before I read it is that it’s hard to summarize without spoilers. The basics are that it’s about a woman, Sophia, who lives in a planned community; Sophia’s only purpose in life is to please her husband. She was made for him.
When Sophia finds a mysterious object hidden in her kitchen, cracks start showing in her seemingly perfect existence. The simultaneous arrival of a dangerous new person only makes things worse, and things go downhill from there.
Comfort Me With Apples is short, just over two hours long in audio, and I finished it in two sittings. The narrator, Karis Campbell, alternates between too-perfect chirpiness as she reads out the rules of Sophia’s community between chapters and Stepford Wife calm as Sophia navigates her daily life. She’s also pretty great at unique voices for everyone else.
I was definitely disturbed at several points. I also didn’t guess where the story was going until pretty close to the final reveal. However, I feel like the ending somehow diminished everything once I understood the true nature of the story. It was horrifying, yes, but it was somehow less unsettling than I was expecting. Possibly I feel that way because I recognized what Valente was subverting.
It turns out that Comfort Me With Apples is a certain type of story. It’s an excellent example of the genre, but the ending made my writer’s brain fixate on the moving parts instead of fully enjoying it. All those potential mysteries collapse into something very specific, and that is somehow mildly disappointing.
If you have a few hours to spare, Comfort Me With Apples is definitely worth checking out. However, I’m not sure I would pay full price for such a short book. I also recommend reading the relevant quote from Song of Solomon.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.