Ted lives in a run-down old house with his cat, Olivia, and sometimes with his daughter, Lauren. Ted has … ‘issues.’ Could it be the obvious alcoholism? Or is it something more? He sees a psychologist regularly, but rarely tells the truth.
The woods behind the house hold secrets – secrets Ted is afraid will come to light when diggers and tractors wind they were behind the house and into the woods.
The cat knows many secrets, and Lauren never leaves the house when she’s there.
Their awkward status quo is disrupted when a new neighbor, Dee, moves in on the dead-end street. Dee is the sister of a young woman who went missing years ago. Dee is convinced that Ted, the man behind the boarded-up windows at the end of her street, is responsible and she’ll do anything to prove it.
I’m always on the lookout for a good horror novel and The Last House on Needless Street definitely fits the bill.
Author Catriona Ward sets us up first with our main character, Ted. We can feel something is ‘off’ about him right from the start and much of the book is a slow reveal into more and more of the man and what has caused him to behave the way he does.
But the book has multiple points of view, including that from the cat. The Bible reading cat seems to be the most observant of all the characters, and perhaps the most reliable as well. Even more so than the obsessed Dee.
The book is a study in character and psychosis and it’s quite haunting. Ward really establishes a tone for the book using characters and her work here should be a stellar example of how to create mood.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the book is how Ted is established right away and as readers we think we know him or at least his ‘type.’ And here again it’s the cat who keeps us focused, not settling in too early in thinking we know exactly what’s going on because … well, a cat. Why are we getting the cat’s point of view?
But as the book goes along and more and more is revealed about Ted, we really do think we understand the direction of the book. The presence of Dee is sort of an ‘ah ha’ moment and yeah, we know exactly what’s going to happen now.
Except we don’t.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of readers will not accurately predict the ending (especially if they haven’t read a bunch of reviews) and isn’t that ultimately what we want? To be tested and surprised and entertained along the way?
At one point, maybe two thirds of the way through, I felt like the story stalled just slightly – that we had stopped getting new information and were repeating aspects of Lauren’s character. But this was just a passing moment.
Readers should be aware that there is some pretty gruesome child abuse described herein.
Looking for a good book? Fans of horror and well-written, character driven fiction will gleefully devour The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Last House on Needless Street
author: Catriona Ward
hardcover, 352 pages