“This is an extraordinary and dazzlingly original work from one of our most gifted and interesting writers.”

Emily St. John Mandel




Part domestic thriller, part speculative fiction, part psychological drama, The Need is a novel about Molly, a scientist and mother of two young children. When a masked intruder appears in her home and demonstrates an eerie familiarity with the inner workings of her life, Molly falls down a mind-bending rabbit hole. The evolving tension of the threat from the intruder is matched by mounting drama at Molly’s workplace. She is a paleobotanist who has recently uncovered an array of peculiar artifacts at her fossil quarry. When Molly learns the true identity of the intruder, her personal and professional crises collide, forcing her to confront an almost impossible moral decision with far-reaching repercussions for her children. The book explores maternal love, loss, and what one human can be asked to do for another.



“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.”
The Guardian

“An enthralling book. With its short chapters, unsettling prose, and riveting suspense, it feels designed for binge-reading.”
The Economist

”To detail much more of Phillips’ plot would be to spoil this 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. Phillips’ rendering of the experience of being caught up ‘in the cyclone of your children’s needs’ is magnificent, and just as petrifyingly disorientating as any of the narrative’s more obviously chilling elements. This is a smart, sharp book that cuts to the heart of what it’s like to be a mother.”
The Financial Times

“Phillips, as careful with language as she is bold with structure, captures many small sharp truths … Everyday life, here, is both tedious and fascinating, grotesque and lovely, familiar and tremendously strange. Molly — worrying about the person she is becoming, and whether that person can adequately meet a family’s needs, let alone her own — is finally alive to it all, to its terrors but also, on those rare occasions when everyone is happy (or asleep), to its incandescent joys.”
New York Times Book Review

"This book held me hostage, invaded my dreams and my waking thoughts, and readjusted my brain; Phillips is, as always, doing something at once wildly her own and utterly primal. Maybe it doesn't surprise me that the strangest book I've read about motherhood is also the best, but it does thrill me."
Rebecca Makkai
author of The Great Believers

“The Need is a spellbinding novel, both unsettling and irresistible. The best fiction finds the uncanny within the familiar; it makes us feel the fantastical undercurrent of our embodied lives.  With exquisite economy and evocative prose, Phillips manifests the surreal, terrifying, and visceral experience of motherhood.”
Dana Spiotta
author of Innocents and Others

“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
author of Station Eleven

“The Need is a chilling novel from a blazing talent. It’s also very hard to write about without spoilers, because 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 … A bracingly singular achievement, it’s surreal, blackly comic and ultimately generous.”
The Observer

“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.”
The Daily Mail

“An impressively original thriller … a horror story about the vulnerability of motherhood that doubles up as a love letter to the miraculous existence of children … a grippingly mysterious examination of what it means to love a child, and lose yourself at the same time.”

"The Need’s true subject is motherhood, rendered here as a painful, visceral, almost impossibly tender undertaking … In all, a grand achievement. The novel exists on that narrow borderline where strangeness merges with the mundane, and Phillips is both an explorer, and a brilliant chronicler of this murky realm.”
The Spectator

“An exciting, enjoyably eccentric novel that more than delivers as both a reality-warping thriller and a searching meditation on motherhood.”
The Mail on Sunday

“This is a book about the biggest things you can imagine--the dreadful potentiality of life, the fierceness of love, and the terrifying and exhilarating mystery of motherhood.  Helen Phillips writes at the nexus of science fiction and psychological realism, conjuring a narrative so mind-bending and immersive that it'll change what you see as real.  She is an author at the height of her power, and we are so lucky to be living in her moment.”
Alexandra Kleeman
author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

"Helen Phillips has created an existential page-turner that captures, with perfect sharpness, the fierce delirium of motherhood, the longing to understand the workings of our universe, and the wondrous and terrifying mystery that is time. The Need is a brain-bending heartbreaker of a novel, and definitive proof that Helen Phillips is one of the most spellbindingly original writers working today."
Laura van den Berg
author of The Third Hotel

“Hypnotically eerie … Phillips structures her astonishing fifth book in edge-of-your-seat mini-chapters that infuse domesticity with a horror-movie level of foreboding, reminding us that the maternal instinct is indeed a primal one.”
O Magazine

“From the opening sentence, The Need sucked me in (I read it in one sitting) and then spat me out at the end, feeling dazed and slightly off-kilter in the best and most pleasurable way. Phillips evokes with astoundingly masterful prose the lengths to which a mother will go for her children. At once a fast-paced thriller and psychologically astute literary novel, the intensity of the plot is leavened with moments of startling tenderness.”
Kate  Christensen
author of The Last Cruise and The Great Man

“Suspenseful and mysterious, insightful and tender, Phillips’ new thriller cements her standing as a deservedly celebrated author with a singular sense of story and style.”
Kirkus Starred Review

"An unforgettable tour de force that melds nonstop suspense, intriguing speculation, and perfectly crafted prose...Structured in brief, sharply focused segments that shift back and forth in time, the novel interrogates the nature of the self, the powers and terrors of parenting, and the illusions of chronology. Yet it’s also chock-full of small moments—some scary, some tender, some darkly witty—that ground its cerebral themes in a sharply observed evocation of motherhood. With its crossover appeal to lovers of thriller, science fiction, and literary fiction, this story showcases an extraordinary writer at her electrifying best."
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“The Need, the eerily gorgeous new novel by Helen Phillips, fills the void, offering up the perfect, insightful look into the way motherhood warps the world around you … Phillips brilliantly captures the dissonant dualities of being a mother: the ways strength is matched with fragility, tenderness with ferocity, nurturing with palpable, almost riotous need.”

"This fever dream of a novel starts like a thriller (someone’s in the living room), morphs into speculative sci-fi … and ends up like nothing you’ve ever read before. In a good way.”



July 2019 Indie Next Pick

New York Times Editors’ Choice

Amazon Best Book of July

Apple Best of the Month

New York Times Book Review

New York Times Book Review podcast

New York Magazine profile

The Economist

The Financial Times

The Guardian

New York Times profile

LitHub profile

WNYC’s “All Of It” interview

Washington Post

Wall Street Journal

Kirkus Reviews interview

Boston Globe

The Observer

The Daily Mail

The Spectator


O Magazine

Guernica interview

Los Angeles Review of Books interview

Electric Literature interview

NYLON Magazine interview

BRIC TV interview

Writers on Writing interview

San Francisco Chronicle

Huffington Post

New York Times “9 Books to Watch for in July”

Time Magazine “Here Are the 6 New Fiction Books You Should Read in July”

Entertainment Weekly review

Vol. 1 Brooklyn review

New York Magazine “10 Notable New Releases Over the Next Two Weeks”

New York Post “The Best Books of the Week”

GQ “The 31 Best Beach Reads, According to Your Favorite Writers”

Kirkus Starred Review

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

The Millions Top 10 August 2019

WAMC (Northeast Public Radio)


CUNY Book Beat Podcast interview

Poets & Writers interview

Library Journal

New York Post

Houston Chronicle

Vanity Fair “5 Summer Thrillers: The Most Cerebral and Compulsively Readable Books of the Season”

O Magazine “50 Most Anticipated Books of 2019”

Cosmopolitan “The Best Beach-Worthy Books of July 2019”

The Toronto Star

Bust Magazine

Largehearted Boy

Entertainment Weekly “20 New Books to Read in July”

Elle Magazine “The 30 Best Books to Read This Summer”

Vulture “12 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Summer”

Newsweek “17 Best Summer Books 2019”

Nylon “35 Great Books to Read This Summer”

Business Insider “The 10 must-read books of July”

Bustle “50 New Books of Summer 2019”

Refinery 29 “Get Your Hands on These July 2019 Books”

LitHub “What to Read This Month, Based on Your Sign”

Slice Magazine interview

The Creative Independent interview

Minneapolis Star Tribune “45 Books to Keep You Reading All Summer Long”

TopShop “Our 9 Favourite Books to End Summer on a High Note”

Off the Shelf “7 Domestic Thrillers to Binge-Read Right Now”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “9 Mysteries and Thrillers”

Tor.com “All the New Genre Bending Books Coming in July”

Better Homes & Gardens “13 New Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Summer”


Kenyon Review “Summer Reading Recs”

Thrillist “33 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Summer”

Chatelaine “10 Most Suspenseful Thrillers of Summer”

Deseret News “5 New Summer Books”

Publishers Lunch “Highly Anticipated Book of 2019”



other editions