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Anne Heltzel Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Circle Nine (2011)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Charlie, Presumed Dead (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Just Like Mother (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Anne Heltzel is an American young adult and fiction books author best known for her 2022 novel Just Like Mother. She is also a children’s book editor and has lived in India and Paris, which inspired the setting of her book Charlie, Presumed Dead. Besides writing, Heltzel works as an editorial director at Abrams Books, where she specializes in content development and entertainment publishing in the children’s division. When not writing, you will find Heltzel spending her time in Hudson Valley and Brooklyn and likes food, dogs, wallpapers and books. Heltzel is also the author of the book The Ruining; she wrote under the pseudonym Anna Collomore. She is a resident of Hudson Valley in an old house where she lives with her husband, a horror writer, and their hyperactive cattle dog.

In her novel, Just like Mother, Heltzel portrays how the pressure to have children can be so intense for women. But against this reality, she asks, what if motherhood was a cult? In the story, we meet two cousins, Andrea and Maeve, as they escape from Mother Collective as children. When they meet again, their lives interweave in ways that soon become gory.

On the surface, Maeve appears to everyone to be living the best life. She works as an editor at a well-known publisher, a job that everyone in town admires. While she loves her career, she is also romantically entangled with a handsome guy she likes, and things seem to be going pretty well for her. Maeve’s life is so well-adjusted that she finds it impossible to believe how things panned out well for her considering the traumatic childhood she experienced in the cult known as Mother Collective. While the traumatic childhood took a long time, once she was rescued and adopted, she was able to learn what it means to be happy and safe.

Besides everything, there was one girl Maeve could never live to forget- her cousin and her best childhood friend, Andrea. She lost contact with her after the police raided Mother Collective. Years ago, just by impulse, Maeve had requested a DNA test through an ancestry site and lo and beheld, she discovered that she was connected to Andrea.

Years later, Andrea is a successful career woman working as the CEO of a startup tech company, NewLife. Her company produces real artificial intelligent-programmed baby dolls that help women get ready for motherhood. After reuniting with her cousin, Andrea confesses that these AI dolls have played an important role in helping her and her husband mourn the loss of their child.

Maeve is happy to have reconnected with not only her childhood best friend but also her cousin. The two spend a lot of time catching up, and Andrea invites Maeve to spend some time with her in her beautiful mansion in the Catskills. In the mansion, Maeve meets Rob, Andreas’ husband and some other couple of their rich friends. But soon, things take a dark turn when Maeve finds out the darker side of NewLife Company. She is more horrified when her cousin makes a weighty request- one that Maeve would never agree to, even knowing how bad it would upset her cousin.

Just like Mother is a captivating horror, mystery, and thriller novel. It’s more disturbing than scary, something that you should keep in mind, especially if you are sensitive to themes such as child abuse, abortion, violence, graphic sex, child death, nonconsensual sex, and a lot of other issues.

This novel can be best described as The Stepford Wives meets The Handmaid’s Tale. The plot boasts a dark dystopian quality that will leave you unsettled and yearning for more. The author has taken what everyone in society reveres as a magical treasure, motherhood and fertility, and turns it on its side. This reveals to us that anything put to the extreme is bad and anything coveted above everything else creates a cult, despite whether it starts with the best of intentions.

Overall, this horror novel explores some major issues of feminism and motherhood gone wrong. While it’s not all horrifying at the start, you’d be sure to stick around until the end for some quality nightmare to keep you late at night.

Charlie, Presumed Dead is a psychological thriller book narrated by three characters, Aubrey, Lena and Charlie. Aubrey and Lena’s narratives alternate with that of Charlie occurring at specific parts of the story.

Two young women discover they have been dating the same man. With the suspicion that he may have staged his own death, they set out to discover the truth. Clues take them from Paris to London to Bombay to Bangkok. Each lady has a hidden purpose for wanting to locate Charlie. Unaware of Charlie’s true nature, the two women unwittingly fall into the fatal trap he has prepared. Although Heltzel begins to set out the pieces for her readers, notably with Charlie’s second-person narratives, this twist catches the unprepared reader completely off guard.
Charlie led a double life based on who he was with. He appeared to be nearly fully two distinct persons with varied personalities, likes, and dislikes. Lena starts to believe that Charlie is not quite dead and that he is only playing a game. She convinces Aubrey to accompany her to London in order to investigate Charlie’s hangouts there. Despite the fact that Aubrey, a prudent young lady with worried parents in the United States, feels she should return home, she allows Lena to persuade her to travel around the world in the hopes of finding Charlie.

Both girls have secrets that they can’t bring to help or trust the other. Jealousy, suspicions at the role they play in Charlie’s life and the strangeness of the situation. And if it turns out Charlie is alive, as one of the women suspects, what was his motivation for faking his death?

Lena and Aubrey are quite different characters, even though they love Charlie. The things they do are pretty crazy, and along the way, they make some seriously dodgy decisions.

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