Review: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

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Buy it here: Amazon, Bookshop

Synopsis:

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…

Review:

When I started this novel,  I did not really know what I was getting into. (This happens most of the time with me. I rarely read synopsis, reviews, or blurbs until I am halfway through any book. I decide what to read based on author, publisher, and sometimes cover design. Since The Last House on Needless Street is one of the flagship titles of Nightfire, a new horror imprint of Tor, I picked this up rather quickly.) I just knew the first line of the synopsis is, “This is the story of a serial killer.” When the first chapter is from the perspective of the serial killer, I knew that I was hooked. The voice of the Ted, from the very beginning sucked me into the story. Most readers of horror have a bit of an obsession about serial killers so for a novel to start from the perspective of a killer, instead of a cop or even a victim, is a gripping start. After reading further, the three main narrators, separated by chapters, are Ted, the killer, Dee, a woman who is looking for the man that killed her sister and has tracked the suspects down to Ted, and Olivia, Ted’s cat. Olivia’s chapters are almost feline but also insightful in a way that reflects the thoughts of what a cat might be like when they stare at you. 

The last house on Needless Street, Ted’s house, is boarded up, dark, dusty, and a little surreal. There are things in the house that hold memories that influence Ted’s behavior, and as a whole, it does not feel like there is anything concrete about the house, Ted’s life, and the story as a whole. Everything seems to be very slippery. Catriona Ward writes this is such a way that makes it as confusing for the reader sometimes as it is for the characters. There are some great passages that do not make much sense. There are details of the house that shift and change based on the narrator. There are events that change based on the perspective of the one telling the story, like to the point where sometimes one character is completely wrong about what just happened. Sometimes this story feels like a large puzzle that has been dumped on the floor, and we have to take the time to put it all together. 

If you are a reader that likes a straight forward plot and do not like being completely confused by the story, this probably is not the book for you. Fortunately many readers like the challenge of not really understanding everything that is going on, hoping that the ending reveals the whole picture. In the case of The Last House on Needless Street, this happens in a solid way, but there are so many nuances that Ward uses that this book begs to be reread. The first experience is mind-blowing, but the second could make this your favorite book of all time.

I have received an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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