Sisters Eve and Dinah are youthful members of a cult, led by a man known only as “Uncle,” living in an old stone castle on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. Uncle promises his wards, his followers, all young girls, that the future holds something profound, something they’ve never seen before. One of the girls will inherit tremendous powers and Eve is willing to do anything to be the chosen one.
But even on a remote island in Scotland, just after the war to end all wars, a cult with young girl followers catches the eyes of the law. Chief Inspector Christopher Black investigates a brutal murder, which derails a sacred ceremony on the island, and he desperately wants to get Eve away from Uncle’s control. But no matter how bad things get, Eve is devoted to Uncle and his teachings.
It is quite appropriate that this was a Shirley Jackson Award winner (2019) because this feels so much like a Shirley Jackson book – it is a dark, Gothic horror novel, heavy on character.
Author Catriona Ward plays fast and loose with time here and it’s important to pay attention to the date at the beginning of a chapter. We bounce around a bit but rest assured, the story does come together.
I especially appreciated the character of Inspector Black. He seemed the most complex character. While the focus is on Eve, she doesn’t seem to be in control of her own actions through most of the book and her wants and desires seem pretty straight-forward. Black on the other hand is highly conflicted. He is suspicious of Eve, but he also wants to get her out of her situation (being in a cult), but he also knows he has no direct action he can take other than trying to convince her it’s in her best interest – which is typically not enough to get someone out of a cult.
There are layers of horror here, sometimes subtle, sometimes in your face, but overall it definitely has a gothic horror feel to it, and as I’ve already mentioned, it sings of Shirley Jackson.
Author Catriona Ward notes that while this is only just being published by her current publisher, she actually wrote and had this published in 2018 (it received the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel in 2018), making this her first novel. I’ve now read two books by Ward and she is definitely an author to seek out.
Looking for a good book? Little Eve by Catriona Ward is solid, spine-tingling, Gothic horror and worth reading if you like a little shiver in your reading.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Catriona Ward
publisher: Tor Nightfire
hardcover, 271 pages