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

Emily St. John Mandel



The Need is an existential thriller 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. This work of speculative fiction explores maternal love, loss, and what one human can be asked to do for another.

early praise

"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

“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

“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


on sale July 9

available now for pre-order

other editions