Helen House by Kayla Kumari Upadhyay


At turns terrifying and erotic, Helen House is a queer ghost story about trauma and grief.

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Our bookseller says…

“From the very first page, Helen House had a huge “god why would you do that why would you open that door” vibe that any horror fan is sure to fuck with. My level of dread increased exponentially with each page turn, culminating in a full theatrical gasp at the very end. But Helen House isn’t just super creepy! It’s also a genuinely great reflection on how earth-shattering grief can cause families to break apart and can make people do really bad stuff to each other. Basically, Helen House is a cautionary tale on dealing with your emotions in healthy ways. And yeah, not every part of it is super realistic- not all of us force our children to take up the hobbies and interests of our deceased four year-old daughter. But who among us hasn’t resorted to unhealthy coping mechanisms, be it sex, drugs, alcohol, or building a life-size replica of a dead family member’s favorite toys? If you’re still not convinced… Author Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle- that should tell you everything you need to know about this book.


Right before meeting her girlfriend Amber’s parents for the first time, the unnamed narrator of Helen House learns that she and her partner share a similar trauma: both of their sisters are dead. As the narrator wonders what else Amber has been hiding, she struggles with her own secret–using sex as a coping mechanism–as well as confusion and guilt over whether she really cares about Amber, or if she’s only using her for sex. When they arrive at the parents’ rural upstate home, a quaint but awkward first meeting unravels into a nightmare in which the narrator finds herself stranded in a family’s decades-long mourning ritual.

Helen House by Kayla Kumari Upadhyay