!!d7nnYw!mM~$(KGrHqYOKnUEw89OpVZ3BMRq3YG6gg~~_35What’s It All About?

Becky Collier, hurting from her boyfriend’s betrayal with her former bestie, accepts a job as a live in nanny on a remote island. Something is afoot though and Becky quickly realises this is no summer in paradise.

Something’s Afoot?

You betchya. Mrs Nelson is awfully suspicious, practically forcing Becky to hide out in the woods. Then the phone calls start…

Scary Phonecalls?

No. Just really annoying ones, potentially about PPI claims. It’s not as crap as it sounds though. Becky has to try work out what’s going on with little baby Devon and his twitchy mother AND suss out local forest prowler Cleve – is he curly haired friend or foe?

The Girl

As I mentioned last time, Mother’s Helper was the first Point Horror I ever read and *something* got me hooked. On second read it could well be Becky. Given that we’ve had some pretty shoddy female leads, Becky is wonderfully capable and down to earth.

The evidence:

1. ‘Actually, I’ve never needed rescuing my whole life…In fact, I’m the one who rescues everyone else.’

2. She’s fantastic at childcare. Her subtle undermining of Mrs Nelson is both funny and skilled.

3. It’s Becky who plots out the escape from the island with the fake baby – ingenious.

I’m not sure about the hair you can sit on though. That can’t be hygienic. I’m just picturing the last two inches of her hair matted with leaves and bits of chewing gum, not to mention toilet seat faecal matter. I mean, does she sometimes get poop on her hair? ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT.

The Love Interest

This is the first Point Horror to present a compelling hint of genuine and understated lesbian affection. Just kidding! Love interest Cleve is a wholesome all-american sailor/wood lurker who lives near the forest cabin.

I actually quite liked Cleve. When he and Becky go on dates (once Mrs Nelson lets Becky out), he’s quite sweet. I like the bread sharing exchange: the one who tears the bread doesn’t get to choose which bit they eat, and I enjoyed Cleve’s made-up Becky story in which she’s an heiress on the run. The sudden brooding moments are a tedious red herring but we’ve met a lot LOT worse*

*Chuck from The Babysitter flashback. *shudder*

imagesDialogue Disasters

Mrs Nelson’s dialogue veers towards bonkers: ‘I wasn’t brought up to publicly discuss private things!’ but *just* stays this side of acceptable. Even Devon’s baby chat isn’t awful.

With this in mind, I shall dedicate this whole section to the GRACEFUL WHALE EARRINGS. I mean whut?

Body Count: 0 (boooo!)

Some Mild Peril?

Mother’s Helper has a very different, slightly more mature feel to previous episodes. In fact, the whole thing feels very nineties thriller – think The Hand That Rocks The Cradle or Single White Female. The scares, as such, are classier – no creepy masks or guts in letterboxes. The mutilated dolls left in the cabin are the only clue we’re even in a Point Horror.

By far the most effective moment is when Mrs Nelson catches Becky in her locked bedroom. Point Horror could have used more high-tension moments like these.

Is It Any Good?

Yes. Despite not a lot actually happening, a sense of something lurking just in the woods is enough to keep you reading. Is it surprising that Mrs Nelson is a certified fruit loop? No, she’s act madder than a shithouse rat throughout. Trying to figure out precisely what’s up with her, though, is quite compelling. The fact that she stole Devon is a pretty neat twist though, one which I’d forgotten.

And I really think Bates deserves praise for creating a ‘strong female character’ in Becky, and a kind which we don’t see very often: a girl who is strong and capable without needing to be Buffy. The ending felt particularly compassionate, and wasn’t what I was expecting.

perfumeNext month we get a whiff of evil as we visit perhaps the most unusual Point Horror, THE PERFUME BY CAROLINE B COONEY.

Over to you:

1. Which is better – this or The Babysitter?

2. How did Franklin get the number for the cabin?

3. Why did Mrs Nelson bother to hire Becky? Isn’t this the least likely thing you’d do in her situation?

4. What does Mrs Nelson hope to achieve by pushing the sheriff off the cliffs?

5. Will Becky make it work with Cleve long-distance or will she be back in Jason’s clutches the day after she gets home?


20 thoughts on “PHBC: Mother’s Helper by A Bates

  • July 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    This was a great read – I couldn’t remember it from my teenage years, all I remember was how the teddy on the cover is a REPLICA of my childhood campion, Erby, who I love dearly.

    I did pick out a few classic lines:

    “Why didn’t I bring my tape player and some tapes?” – this is when Becky is trying to drown out the ringing phone (LOL @ PPI claim by the way). I miss my Walkman sometimes. Quality time spent in chewing the tape with a pencil and getting so easily frustrated when I had to take the tape out, turn it over, and fast forward to rewind, as rewind hadn’t been invented then.

    “I can float, she told herself, pushing the panic back as if it were a curtain” – as if it were a curtain?!

    And lastly, “it’s a good thing dolls don’t bleed, Becky thought dumbly”.

    But overall the plot was great. It was a slight stretch of the imagination that the whole area had no law enforcement due to the aheriff’s “accident”, I mean surely there is a deputy or they could take someone out of retirement or draft somebody in from a neighbouring town? How does he go on holiday?

    Cleve’s red herring broody looks and strange questions were a bit of an inward eye roll, but Becky and Mrs Nelson were great, and I agree the ending was unexpected. I was half hoping for Mrs Nelson to fall off Babyface and make that famous Point Horror egg cracking sound we all know and love.

    To answer your questions:

    1. Think I’m still going to vote for The Babysitter, even though Chuck is in it.
    2. Lol, I didn’t think of that!
    3. Yes, I did think at the end that surely, you’d just hideout and not involve some plucky, undermining, cock-sure teenager.
    4. Again, this left me baffled. This surely draws extra attention to yourself and the peaceful un disturbed area you’ve chosen to hideout in, surely?
    5. I would imagine it doesn’t last. Or the girl who split up Becky and Jason comes to the island to apologise and Cleve falls head over hills for her, and then Becky pushes them both off the cliff.

    Ooh, The Perfume. I remember this one. I think. I do remember my copy was really dog eared and this girl in my class said I was a tramp and that I must live in a garbage van. And then the usual thing happened of her and her friends chanting some rhyme about me being a bin man whilst circling around me. Memories.

  • July 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Wow that post was one whole “damn you autocorrect” moment. I’m sure y’all can piece it together.

  • July 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    This is why I need you guys…’pushing back the panic as if it were a curtain’ is very bad indeed.

  • July 13, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I do not remember this book at all from when I was younger but I must have read it as I found the copy in my shed smelling quite damp and old and shed smelling! Yuk!

    Although not a “horror” so to speak I have to say I did enjoy this book and I loved the character of Becky! At last a female we don’t want to push of a cliff by the end and hear the egg cracking sound! I did find it a bit slow at the beginning and takes at least half of the book for any actual action to take place, but the thought of being in isolation near the woods on an island gave me the hibbie jibies…..I kept imagining it like Harpers Island (Has anybody else watched this?) and similar to a holiday place we had in the woods when I was a kid! Also you could imagine this story happening in real life as the world is a crazy place.

    The relationship between Becky and Devon is quite lovely which is a credit to A Bates as it does a good job of feeling like calling social services on Mrs Nelson! And Cleave just seemed like an old romantic kinda guy suggesting moonlight trips in his boat, sharing his bread…asking Becky to climb down a dangerous cliff to get to his boat! lol

    A few classic lines I picked up on that made me chuckle were –

    Upon Cleave first meeting Becky – “Nice Hair” “Have you ever cut it?” – 10 out of 10 for a classic chat up line there Cleave! Made me wonder how may other girls he tried that on! On the subject of the hair – why oh why would you boast about sitting on it…I agree with James…running through the woods surely cannot be hygienic for the hair and what happens if you sat on it after and got a nasty surprise of a thorn in the bum…would Becky say “Just something I picked up earlier!?”lol

    “Would it be such a bad way to die – being swallowed by a whale? It would be an innocent death. Not like murder at all” – ewwwwwwwwwwwww fishy death! You would still be dead Becky, but whatever makes you happy!

    All in all I do think the twist was a bit predictable, but I admire Becky for letting Mrs Nelson run away…either that or Becky thought I can’t be bothered to get up off the floor to push her off the cliff!

    To answer your questions –

    1) I enjoyed this more than the Baby Sitter although I like the sense of urban legend that baby sitter brings.

    2) I think Baby Devon was the mastermind all along…all his baby ways were an act and secretly, when no one was looking during one of his “nap” sessions dialled his dads number as he couldn’t take being fed peas any longer and Mr Nelson 1471ed the little devil! In all serious….a point horror loop hole….I mean mystery!

    3) I think Mrs Nelson was so distraught that over the years she could not get a library card that she hired Becky to then steal her library card and do nothing with it…. either that or just lazy and enjoyed ship / ferry spotting lol

    4) Ahhhh pushing the sheriff off the cliff…that old classic pushing off a cliff…I think A Bates thought she would be disappointing point horror fans if she didn’t push at least one character off a cliff….either that or Mrs Nelson was into some kinky adult games with the Sheriff playing good cop bad cop with the old truncheon and ….okay I will stop as my imagination has obviously took this too far!?

    5) I like to think Becky and Cleve rebuilt the cabin and lived happily ever after…ahhhhhhh. Oh an she cut of her hair into a little pixie style cut and sold cut off hair as hair extensions which made her a millionaire! (I sometimes worry about my imagination!)

    All in all a decent Point Horror book..I actually think I would let my 9 year old read this one.

    Looking forward to the Perfume as I always remember this one to be a bit strange but in a good way (If its the one I remember).

    Billy – I love that your teddies name was Erby (So cute!) and love the horrible story of being called a tramp and a bin man whilst people circled around you…..makes me feel like handing you some buttered popcorn to cheer you up (oh Caroline) 🙂

    Hubbys putting me back in the straight jacket now….ta ta

  • July 13, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Ohhhhhh I forgot to comment on the Whale earrings!!! I beg you all not to show these to my mother in law! She would love them….I have evidence of a large glittery chicken pendant that was worn to be engagement party and has numerous outing ever since that feels be with fear that the Whale earrings would be a new fashion accessory.
    Please note – Picture of the chicken can be provided if required for evidence!

  • July 13, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I also remembered absolutely nothing abut this one, which filled me with more foreboding than a Point Horror heroine answering a mysterious telephone call, but I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised on the whole.

    As you’ve all mentioned, I think most of this was down to Becky, who, although a leeetle slow on the uptake, was more capable and level-headed than most of our leading ladies to date – her declaration that “it’s time for me to quit reacting blindly, and do something that makes sense” should be issued as detention lines to Martha, Katie et al. Sure, she’s a tad humourless, and given to protracted philosophising on the differences between real and toy vacuum cleaners (“Are we working or playing? My toy makes more noise but his seems like more fun.”), but she’s pretty believable and super practical, which I liked. And by super practical I mean, like, WAY super practical – and literal to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if she was somewhere on the Spectrum. That bit where Cleve made a self-deprecating crack about not knowing what he wanted to do with his life, and deadpan Becky immediately listing his options – “College, job, the service, vocational school” – had me doing some pretty heavy duty chortling into my Tab Clear, I have to be honest (serving 90s soft drink realness, you guys, whut?)

    Cleve was an odd one. He was way less irritating than most PH love interests, but I found him a bit creepy, and not just in a red-herring-I-was-acting-weird-because-I-cared-about-you-all-along-what-this-knife-oh-I-was just-making-a-sandwich-ha-ha kind of way. For a start, any man that casually threw “Would you like to go for a midnight sail?” into our SECOND EVER conversation as though I was some kind of boat slut would have me running for the hills. Maybe reign it in a bit, eh Cleve?

    The fact that Mrs Nelson made no effort to conceal how unhinged she was from the very first page made for some great scenes, but probably undercut the drama of the big reveal. Still, she was great fun for most of the book, with that rant about timetabling the baby’s bowel movements because “unscheduled people lack discipline” being an early highlight. I like to imagine her being played by Nicole Kidman in the obviously very definitely going to happen movie adaptation.

    I’m not sure I found the ending as satisfying as you guys. Having the psycho-reveal take place off-screen and then described to Becky felt a little lazy, though I suppose it paved the way for the gas-addled pursuit finale. Also, I don’t know if I’m being Belinda Swanson levels of thick here, but I did not follow Becky’s escape plan AT ALL. Something about special brandy, something about a switcheroo, something about hiding in the woods for a bit. It all seemed a bit complicated to me, though fair play to Becky for putting the effort in. I’d have hightailed it out of there the second those dolls started showing up all over the place.

    You’re right about Becky being caught in Mrs Nelson’s bedroom (very Paul Sheldon in Annie Wilkes’s study) being the absolute tension-ratcheting highlight; it just all seemed to go a bit downhill from there for me. I liked the focus on more low-key thriller-y elements, but the lack of suspects meant that it didn’t really work as a whodunnit.

    Other highlights of course included THOSE much-maligned whale earrings (up there with the Mexican bowl in Dream Date in the superfluous prop category) and Becky’s hilarious attempt to pay for a meal with a baby’s pacifier. We’ve all been there, right? Also, Cleve’s impassioned plea that “it’s a little difficult knowing people are looking at you and wondering if you tried to murder the sheriff.” I can only imagine, Cleve.

    Question time:

    1. The Babysitter, though I’m looking forward to more A Bates nostalgia.
    2. Wait, who was Franklin again? I need to start concentrating more.
    3. Well, I guess there was no point in taking all those spooky dolls and not having someone to terrorise with them.
    4. I think she just did it for the lolz. That island was hella dull, to be fair.
    5. Not a chance of them lasting. Maybe she ended up with Franklin (seriously, no idea)

    Super double extra excited for The Perfume next month. Wing? Dove? Venom? Something about an Egyptian fountain in a mall? Oh, I am THERE.

  • July 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Michelle – thanks lol, I might start having buttered popcorn every time I read a PH book now in honour of our dear Caroline. Little did she know that it would be the last batch of buttered popcorn she’d ever buy.

    I think I spaced out on the whale earrings, but what is the underlying significance with those and the whales that tried to eat Becky when she fell out the boat? Perhaps this book has a deeper level we’ve all not seen…

  • July 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    And James – ha, I imagined A Bates sitting there at her writing desk, pen to her lip in contemplation, murmuring to herself “pulled back like a… pulled back like a…” only for her spouse to walk in and pull back the curtains and she be all DING!!

  • July 13, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Oh billy that DING comment just made be nearly choke with laughter…harlarious lol

  • July 13, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Paul … How could we forget about vacumn gate! Harlarious. And that poor baby having scheduled bowel movements …wish someone had told that to my son when he was a baby.. Not pleasant lol. Loving the tab reference as well …. Gone (I think) but never for gotton lol

  • July 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Michelle, Harper’s Island was the worst tv show I’ve seen in a long time. I, of course, LOVED it.

    Billy, I share your adolescent angst. A mean boy grabbed my copy of The Fever by Diane Hoh in the playground, and tore the front cover. I have never got over it… *narrows eyes* …and I never will.

  • July 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Just remember Paul… One by one … Oh cal
    Ps I really hope you know what I mean otherwise I will look like I’ve lost it..again lol

  • July 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    OMG. Harper’s Island was THE BEST. Still not over Cal and Chloe, though *weeps forever*

    Ahem. ANYWAY. Back on topic.

    I think I must have read a different story from you all, because I was even more bored than Becky. The only way I could have been more bored would be if I were stuck in a cabin all day with no internet connection and only a baby for company.

    Firstly can we talk about what kind of weird island has a library/shops which are open in the evening when apparently it is so late that it’s dark in the summer? Also how the holy hell does Becky manage to fall over the side of a stationary boat and end up so far down that she nearly drowns swimming back to the surface and has a near-Jonah experience? And how is she so far away that Cleve nearly runs her over coming to rescue her? Something fishy here. And that’s before I get to the graceful whale earrings. What the hell do graceful whale earrings even look like? Apart from being a more graceful version of those ugly clumsy whale earrings everyone wore in the 90s. Worst fad ever.

    Mrs Nelson is pleasingly barmy, and probably the scariest bit is when she walks in on Becky while she’s going through her stuff. Mad respect to Becky for turning the situation around so she’s like the adult telling off Mrs Nelson though. Becky is easily my fave lead so far. Although she does lose points for not seeming to care that Mrs Nelson has stolen her identity. Especially since she seems like exactly the kind of girl who would not only know what a credit rating is, but worry about it. WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU TRY TO BUY A HOUSE BECKY.

    The ending was both obvious (OF COURSE it was Mrs Nelson) and a cop-out. Seriously, the woman is a baby-napping murderous menace and YOU LET HER GO. What the hell, Becky. This is just how you end up getting stuck in an endless sequel cycle.

    I think a far better ending would have been if Devon had turned out to be a baby genius-slash-psychopath, like Stewie from Family Guy, or that freaky girl from The Orphanage. Wouldn’t that have been amazing? Imagine him suddenly flipping out because Mrs Nelson keeps trying to feed him peas. OR maybe Becky/Devon/Mrs Nelson just got caught in the middle of a doll war between the Brides of Chucky.

    Anyway, enough rambling and on to the questions:

    1) The Babysitter. It’s a classic.
    2) He could probably smell Devon’s diaper.
    3) The thing is, Mrs Nelson was obviously a step behind me in the queue when the maternal gene was being handed out. She wants Devon but has no idea what to do with him. Answer: teen babysitter who will probably not ask too many awkward questions and believe anything you say.
    4) I rather liked that she tried to bump off the sheriff. It’s less of a cliché than “the phones are down so we can’t call the cops!” thing.
    5) Cleve will probably go home with Becky. How else will he get to hang around in the woods around where she lives?

  • July 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Bookie, thank you for the reminder about the island’s 24 hour economy, which bugged the shit out of me. I mean, I’m not saying that an all-night library and whale-earring shop isn’t an amazing idea; I’m just saying I don’t think they would happen on a secluded island with one cop.

  • July 14, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Bookie… I never thought about the falling in the water so far away from the boat scenario… I just thought becky was a little bit clumsy like me… One minute up right next minute kissing the floor …so embarrassing lol. Now I think about it you are right… I like to think that becky did that thing of bigging up her fall to cover up the fact she fell for no reason either that or she took her love of whales to far (at the end of the day she said she wouldn’t mind bring killed by a whale?!?) lol

  • July 14, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Ps Chloe and cal forever! Lol

  • July 14, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    @Paul right? Although now that you mention it, 24 hour libraries should totally be a Thing. Not overly bothered about graceful whale-earring shops though tbh.

    @Michelle ha! Just read all the other comments and saw you had the same idea about Devon. Great minds! And yeah agree about Becky bigging up her fall in the water. It’s like in the beginning of Grease, where Sandy’s all “he showed off, splashing around” and Danny’s all “I SAVED HER LIFE SHE NEARLY DROWNED”. Also, I now want to re-watch Harper’s Island. It is kind of like a point horror in tv form, which is probably why I love it so much 😉

  • July 18, 2014 at 12:05 am

    First off – I’m very happy to join the PHBC! I’ve been chasing these books around the thrift shops / on line auctions lately and was very excited to find a little community who enjoy these books as much as me!

    Secondly, I really enjoyed this book. Nicely paced and – questionable dialogue aside – I felt that the book worked well towards it’s conclusion. I didn’t see the twist coming, so the revelation that Becky was under the control of an A Grade wacko made for a great page turning finale. And I agree about Harpers Island – there is certainly that kinda vibe around the place! Remember the head spade episode?

    I dig what you’re saying Paul about Cleve’s…over-eagerness…to get Becky on a midnight boat cruise. There’s certainly a whiff of ‘date rape’ about that whole scenario! Maybe the fact that the island – and therefore the island’s teenage girl population – think that he’s a murderer might make it a bit hard for him to entice the local ladies on to his boat?

    Question time!

    1. Truth be told, as a newcomer / late comer to the PHBC, I’m still working my way through the previous books (I’m half way through Trick or Treat) so I can’t give a proper response here, but on premise alone I’ll take The Babysitter.
    2. Surely Franklin found out the number the same way he found the cabin? Given that all the bills were in Becky’s name (which raised Cleve’s interest) then maybe Franklin traced the phone / cabin through Miss Collier – which ties in to question 3…
    3. I have a 3 year old and I get that someone who just ‘acquired’ a toddler might need some help with them, but including someone in a kidnapping when they didn’t know they were helping you has all the makings of a E! Entertainment “World’s Craziest…” special! Plus, if Franklin found her through Becky then it’s safe to say that the whole concept was not well thought through. Hmm…a crazy lady with a not well thought through plan – not exactly a shock!
    4. Seemed like a sharp idea at the time! As has been noted, there is a definite void in law enforcement on the island. If she’d finished the job then it’s possible that the whole joint might have fallen into complete anarchy as the slow wheels of justice rolled their way towards appointing someone new. In fact, she’d have to know that the cabin was Cleve’s, so maybe – just maybe – her broader plan was to frame Cleve for the Sheriff’s death, not only ruining island society as we know it but also removing her landlord from the picture as well so he couldn’t snoop around, perve on Becky, fall in love and ruin everything.
    5. Cleve is the holiday rebound guy, no doubt! Odds are Jason and Bestie will have split by the time Becky makes her triumphant return home with her scrapbook of newspaper reports on how she saved the day and he’ll be desperate to win her back. However, with her new found fame and confidence, she’ll be able to have the pick of the guys and Sleazy McCheater will have no chance of easing back in. In fact, after the euphoria of her near death adventure dies down, I’d be surprised if Becky ever sets foot on that damned island again! After all – Mrs Nelson could still be lurking in the woods, waiting for her chance to snatch Devon again…

  • July 22, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Welcome Mark! Sorry I’ve been quiet, I was away and didn’t take my laptop. I’m SO excited for The Perfume, I can’t even begin to tell you.

    Re the boat section. It was obviously shoehorned in for drama purposes so doesn’t really *need* to make sense.


  • July 23, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    @mark… Yes head spade episode of harpers island *the* best episode! Glad I’m not the only one who loved this! Don’t turn the lights on in a church any time soon! Anyway back to the book…loving your answers to james book questions. And loving your logical thinking with regard to how franklin got the cabin number…*bowing head in shame at my immature answer* lol

    @james I can’t wait to read the perfume…bookie tells me I’m in for a treat which By definition means –
    an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure… However I sensed a worrying tone in the word *treat* lol

    Also big thank you to james and everyone joining in on this book club…this truly is the best book club like *EVER* lol….it’s great remembering a time when I loved these books and brings back loads of memories and most of all you all make me laugh out loud that my hubby thinks I’m receiving saucy snapchats! Lol


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