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Helen Phillips Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Upside Down in the Jungle (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Beautiful Bureaucrat (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Need (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
And Yet They Were Happy (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hum (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

The Doppelgängers (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Some Possible Solutions (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Pen America: A Journal for Writers and Readers: 13 Lovers(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Unstuck #1(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Helen Phillips is a fiction writer in the dystopian fiction category genre. A graduate from Yale University, Phillip’s writing is extraordinary and captivating once you get the hang of it. Growing up, she spent years writing poems every day after an autoimmune disease left her hairless, and the writing culture possibly explains why her stories flow so well. The Story Prize named Hellen’s debut book, And Yet They Were Happy as a notable collection. Some awards and recognition to her name include Iowa Review Nonfiction, Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, and Italo Calvino Prize. Phillips currently resides in Brooklyn, where she stays with her husband and son.

The Need

The Need is a science fiction piece that features Molly, a mother raising two children while still maintaining a full-time job. Her husband goes out of town, and Molly is left to care for her four- and one-year-old children. One day, when she is alone with the children, she hears footsteps inside the living room. It’s not the first time, and for a while now, Molly has heard noises, and no matter how much she tries to convince herself that she is just sleep-deprived, the sounds get louder by the day. What’s strange is that the footsteps are not new to her. If Molly was, to be honest to herself, it was clear that she was hearing her footsteps.

Molly hears the footsteps again, and this time, she gets a glimpse of some movement. Curious yet terrified, Molly tells her children not to make a sound as she makes her way to the next room. She is stunned by the statue-like being sitting on her couch. The intruder is wearing the deer mask that Molly’s husband, David, made for her.

She confronts the unwelcome intruder, someone who knows too much about her and the people she cares for the most. While the distressed mother is ready to guard her family with her life, the intruder doesn’t care, and things can only get worse with time. Molly tries her best to protect her loved ones. However, she must also admit her weakness, just like is expected of any human. Molly finds herself in a rabbit hole, where she has to confront the duality that comes with motherhood and the difficulty of keeping it together when a mother still has a career to maintain.

Molly is a hardworking paleobotanist. She is assigned to the fossil in a quarry just out of town right next to a defunct gas station. Molly works with Corey and Roz, and the three take turns sifting inside the query in search of treasures and documenting whatever they find. This is in addition to taking curious visitors through The Pit. Recently, the trio discovered a new penny, a coke bottle, and a Bible where God is referred to as a She. Molly, just like all her colleagues, finds these items strange, and the tall thin woman makes things even stranger.

The Need revolves around the struggles of motherhood and the need for survival. From the sweets scent of a baby’s hair to the feel of tiny fingers in a mother’s hands, the author does a great job of describing the joys and struggles of motherhood. Characterized by haunting imagery and captivating prose, the book is a speculative thriller that celebrates the beautiful and bizarre nature of life. Any woman who has gone through the challenges that come with motherhood will understand Molly, even though she comes off a little depressed.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat

The Beautiful Bureaucrat tells the story of a young wife whose experience at a new job leaves her more than frustrated. Josephine works at a mysterious organization where she is charged with inputting numbers into a database. The job is tedious, and the windowless building does nothing to liven the mood in the office. However, Josephine has been out of work for some time now, and she is no position to be a chooser. She will have to make this work at least until she can figure out how to live comfortably in the city.

As days go by, the files begin to stack up, and Josephine starts to get anxious at work. Everything from the scarred pinkish walls to the noise of keyboards as her colleagues type away ticks her. Then one day, Josephine’s husband disappears only to returns much later with no explanation of where he went. Josephine’s anxiety turns to full-blown dread about her life. It is these, among other strange events that happen in Josephine’s life that make her start to grasp the truth about her work. Something begins to grow inside Josephine as she accepts that she has no choice but to take drastic measures to protect those she loves.
Over the next 192 pages, Josephine tells her story. Packed with building tension, the author uses fabulous wordplay to reveal what is going on in the characters’ lives. The truth is kept a puzzle until the end, and the building tension makes this a hard book to put down. Josephine is a funny character, and her humor will have you laughing despite the creepiness in this book. From the way she refers to her boss to how thoughts form in her head, Josephine is the perfect definition of a wild thinker.

While many novels of this kind end up being either too neat or confusing, the same cannot be said of The Beautiful Bureaucrat. Most of it comprises of normal events, but it is the subtle hints the author drops throughout the books that make this piece stand out. The odd thing is that the book will also make you reflect on work, life, and the choices that we make.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat is one of those stories that hook you from the start. The pace builds fast as the story continues, and, in the end, you will be left with more questions than answers. With a host of intriguing characters and twists and turns, you will barely see coming, this book is perfect if you are looking for a thriller. This book leans more to extensional writing, which makes it ideal for dystopian fiction fans. It’s a well-written book that you can enjoy while traveling and in a few sittings.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Helen Phillips

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