Review: Little Eve by Catriona Ward

Where to Buy:

Amazon, Bookshop


A heart-pounding tale of faith and family, with a devastating twist

“A great day is upon us. He is coming. The world will be washed away.”

On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth.

The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction.

A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong.

And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered. 


Little Eve is the third book I have read by Catriona Ward, and even though this is her second novel from 2018, it has just been rereleased by Tor Nightfire. Even though it won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel that year, this is also the first American release. The last two novels released by Ward on Nightfire have been good, but I’ve been left a little underwhelmed by them, as if there is a better Catriona Ward novel coming, better than both The Last House on Needless Street and Sundial. I did not know that she had already written and published it.

The novel is a gothic novel, cult novel, and murder mystery wrapped into one. Set in a dilapidated castle, “Uncle” and his companions Alice and Nora have adopted four children, and they worship the Adder. The children spend most of their lives starving, trying not to get punished, and being gaslighted by “Uncle” who says that the Adder is going to come for them, and one of them will be chosen and will inherit the Adder’s powers. Everyone’s life is unhappy, the girls are always trying to escape in one way or another, and eventually things boil over when Inspector Black starts to look into the legality of the things that “Uncle” is doing. There are many layers to this story, and I did find myself reading this for hours at a time, getting engrossed in what might happen next. The tension and sadness between all of the characters is compelling, and I could not help but sympathize for the children who were just trying to be in the good graces of the adults in their lives.

Catriona Ward’s writing is superb, and her characters and settings feel alive. I like most of the story and loved it until the last quarter. I am seeing a pattern in her endings. Ward as a writer who has done the same trick that she has done in all three of the novels that I have read. That trick in the last two made me anticipate it in Little Eve so that by the time of the big reveal, it was already expected. I do not know how many more of her novels I can read if the twisty endings continue to be twisty endings because there really is no longer much surprise in it. I like the ending of Little Eve much better than the previous two, and of the three novels by her I have read, this one is my favorite. The complaint is that the ending of her novels are starting to get predictably unpredictable, like she is not going to use effective twists much longer before the readers grow tired of the gimmick. Even still, it is a pretty entertaining, engaging novel, and the Catriona Ward novel I would recommend most. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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