Cover Image: The Last House on Needless Street

The Last House on Needless Street

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It was 2017 when I first read Rawblood by Catriona Ward and had my mind blown. Beautifully Gothic, heartrendingly human, utterly horrific; Ward had won a fan in me. Naturally I was very excited when I saw she was coming into 2021 with another Gothic thriller, one that was getting a whole lotta hype as well. Thanks to Serpent's Tail, Profile Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Last House on Needless Street walks a fine line between telling a story of utter horror and telling a deeply human story. Whether this balance is always perfect I still can't quite say. It's only upon finishing the novel that you realize how it moves between genres, creates expectations and then changes them. As the reader you have to constantly re-assess what you've just read. Is Ted a lonely single dad who can never catch a break or could he be a stone-cold killer only play-acting at humanity? Are humans capable of both good and evil? Can they be irretrievably lost? And how much can a mind take? These are deeply human questions, which just goes to prove that Horror as a genre can address human fears in a way few others can. I think it is so important to have fiction that delves into the very darkest depths of human souls, that sees the horrible and brings it to light. I myself find reading thrillers and horror very cathartic as it lets me consider the worst and helps me step out of it again. Being confronted with your own worst fear can be the end of you but also be what sets you free. In the end, it is our fears that reveal a lot about us and fear runs rampant in The Last House on Needless Street.

Ted, Lauren and Olivia live a complicated life in which many things are odd and some things are good. Ted is a quiet, restrained, deeply sad human being, who is clearly haunted by his own childhood but to disconnected to really know what is wrong. We flash between Ted and Olivia's narration (yes, the cat narrates!), as well as the voice of their new neighbour, Dee, whose young sister went missing one summer day. Dee has never stopped looking and to say she is obsessed with finding her sister would be downplaying it. It is hard to explain the plot of this novel, even at the surface level, since it is rather complex, so I'm going to borrow a simile from the novel itself: it is like a Russian doll. There are stories within stories, moments that have something hidden inside of them, people who aren't who they appear to be. What there is in The Last House on Needless Street is a constant thread of unease, of looking over your shoulder, not recognizing yourself, not knowing how to get out. I found myself majorly drawn in by Ward's three main characters, Ted, Lauren and Olivia. Dee was less fleshed out for me, but as an outsider it made sense that we weren't quite as close to her. This is an incredibly suspenseful read that I couldn't put down and pretty much raced through within a day. In the end, like I said above, this is a much more human story than you might expect and the horrific twists and turns only emphasize the tragedy and beauty that is a human life. 

Catriona Ward is a brilliant writer. She gives each of her characters a distinct voice and she has a knack for ramping up the tension so gently that the pot is boiling before you know it. There are some truly stunning and truly horrifying sequences in The Last House on Needless Street that will stay with me for quite a while. There is so much internal lore, there are themes that keep building on each other, and imagery that echoes throughout the different narratives. The Last House on Needless Street completely sucked me in and I just couldn't put it down. I read this book in a day. I didn't feel quite as strongly about it, however, as I did with Rawblood back in 2017, but then I did utterly adore that book. The praise The Last House on Needless Street has been receiving is utterly deserved though. While trying to avoid spoilers, I do want to mention that the Acknowledgments at the end of the novel are very illuminating in regards to Ward's intentions and inspiration and are definitely worth reading after you've finished the novel. The horror genre has often exploited and sensationalized physical disabilities and mental health issues and Ward does her best to write a Gothic horror that doesn't do so. It is a fine line, but I do believe Ward walks it excellently.

The Last House on Needless Street is a beautiful book, a book that tells a story of human suffering, loss, and fear but never forgets about hope.
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Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited to get my hands on this book, especially with all the hype surrounding it and I was extremely disappointed. It was labelled as a Gothic Masterpiece, and I wouldn’t say it was either to be honest. I kept reading in the hope that it would get better, and start to make a bit of sense, but sadly it didn’t.
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This took me a little while to get into, but when I did, boy I was hooked - mysterious disappearances and strange neighbourhoods. Believe the hype, its going to be huge
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I learnt a very valuable lesson whilst reading this- NEVER skip through to the end of a book again. I tripped over the afterword section and imeediately knew I had spoilt the twist. That did spoil my enjoyment of this a little but otherwise Catriona Ward does deliver a very strong and often very stomch-wrenching readi which i suspect could alienate a number of readers once they see where this is going. The one weakness of the book as far as I was concerned was the balance of character viewpoints which left Dee a little underdeveloped as a character for me. Otherwise, This is an absolutely excellent book.
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WOW!

I don't really have the words to do this story justice. It was a dark, gothic, chilling tale of one I have never read anything like. 

Brilliant. I don't want to talk too much about the story as I don't want to spoil it for others, but this is a must read for anyone who loves twists and tales and something a little different but as gripping as they come. 

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Catriona Ward for allowing me to read and review this masterpiece.
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I absolutely loved this book. It was so unique and like nothing I've read before. 

It was gripping, too I didn't want to put it down, and when I did I found myself thinking about it and trying to work out what was going to happen.

The characters and plot are complex but at the same time it's not the kind of book where you need to keep referencing back.

As with other reviews I've read, I'm not going to go into the story as this would spoil it, just read it!
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A genuinely fantastic read that has you hooked from the very beginning.
Plenty of twists to keep you guessing and an ending that will surprise!
Great book and highly recommended
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From reading other reviews, it really seems that The Last House on Needless Street is a hit or miss. Unfortunately for me, it was the latter. I liked the twist but felt it coming from an early part of the book and whilst it was a dark read, it didn't hit the mark for me.
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This is a brilliant set to read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and action with wonderful world building.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my own honest voluntary review.
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If you want to read something totally different then I recommend you read this novel.At the beginning I wasnt sure what to expect. After all talking cats, a girl causing havoc riding her bicycle round the house and a grown man. How could they all mix together and tell a story but believe me they do. This is a multi layered story which will certainly make you think. Be prepared to be amazed by this beautifully written yet creepy book. One not to be missed.
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An excellent book that requires a second reading to pick up all the clues. Heartrending at the end, and the story stays in your mind for a long time. Beautifully written. Enjoyed reading it.
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This is one of those books that stays with you. It makes you want to find other people that have read it so that you can discuss it and hear them go; yes, I didn't see that coming either.

I'm not going to say much more about it, other than if you like books that mess with your head, grab a copy. It had me swinging from one perspective to another, and all my preconceived ideas about what I thought was happening definitely got stamped on. It's a really unusual and dark read but one that I'd highly recommend. My only criticism is that, in my opinion, the end ran on a little longer than needed, but this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment. 4.5 stars!
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I have never read anything from Catarina Ward. All I can say is wow. This story had lots of twists that I did not see coming. This story kept me on my toes and I was constantly trying to work out what was happening and when I thought I figured out another twist came which I did not expect. There is at least 4 different narratives in the story. They where all easy to get attached to. This is a very dark gothic story and it’s not all what you see you need to go more deeper. 
I definitely recommend this book. Thank you NetGalley for letting me read this book.
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I loved the way the author blends horror, gothic fiction and a touch of literary fiction, all which work well together. This is a strange book and I haven’t read anything quite like it for some time, a beautiful yet horrific read. This is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I was yanked into the book from the intense and intriguing opening lines and I couldn’t put it down until I’d reached the end. This is a complex, beauty of a book the felt like reading three or four amazing books at the same time. I cannot recommend it enough.
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Well, this book was, just wow! Mind blown! 

It's very difficult to review this book without giving much away because you really need to go into it as blind as you can! 

What you need to know is it's creepy, weird and whatever you think is going on you're probably wrong! It's a bit of an odd one but definitely worth sticking with til the end. Oh and the authors note at the end does help make sense of things a bit!

A gothic thriller/horror that makes your head spin, keeps you on your toes and will leave you feeling like wtf did I just read!?
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If, like me, you like your books dark, twisted and unpredictable then this is the book for you! It's billed as a gothic thriller, but I'd add psychological horror to the mix as well - it's a real mind f*** in all the best possible ways!!

And that of course makes it very difficult to review without giving anything away! It centres around a house that is next to the woods. There's a man, Ted, who lives there with his daughter and a talking cat Olivia - genius move adding a voice to the cat by the way!! - and very little is known about him. He keeps himself to himself - he was a suspect in a horrific crime years ago and that has left him wary of everybody. His pleasure in life is to feed the birds. And one day, these birds are poisoned in his garden.... his nightmares begin again and he feels like he is being watched.

Dee moves into the area, desperate to find news of her sister who went missing many years ago. She is convinced Ted knows something about it and will do all she can to find out the truth.

What follows is a fascinating and disturbing story that flits between now and then, as the past sets the tone for the present and the fates of characters play out in chilling fashion - a real stuff of nightmares!!

It's one of those books that I can't wait to go back and read all over again! Brilliant!!
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Disturbing, psychological genre-splicing horror crime.

Ted, a strange and reclusive man, lives alone with his daughter Lauren and cat Olivia. Some years earlier a six year old girl disappeared from a popular beauty spot and the girl’s sister, who has spent her life searching for her, is convinced that Ted was responsible. The story is largely told from these four voices, which alternate in narration and fragmented memories. 

With no spoilers, this book is disturbing throughout;  unnnerving elements click into place around half way to allow for a dark and tragic tale which has twists and turns right up to the very end, and will stay with you for a long time. 

This book is clever, and although using a theme well known in movies of the same genre, it is executed so well. Even before the plot strands come together, the tension and wrongness draw the reader in from the outset though the different voices, and I was compelled to read the second half of the book in one sitting. 

This is horror.. but not as you think you know it. 

With thanks to NetGalley for the arc, views and opinions are my own.
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I received a copy of this from the publisher Viper Books/Profile Books, and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I’m going to try my best to talk about this book without giving away any spoilers.

This book blew me away. From the start I was drawn in to what was happening, and honestly, until about half way though I still had no idea what was going on! The story focuses on 3 people: Ted, Olivia and Dee.

Ted is the one we hear most from. He lives alone in a little house on Needless Street and his young daughter Lauren visits once in while. We hear from Ted’s childhood, his relationship with his parents, and his life now as a grown adult and parent. Ted is a little bit different from other people, but seems nice enough, keeps himself to himself, and loves his daughter.

Olivia is Ted’s kitten who is the second voice in the story. She see’s everything Ted is doing, she see’s when he comes home drunk, tries to grab her and she claws him. She doesn’t know why they live in a small house with all the windows boarded up, but she wants to be out.

Dee is the third person, and is on the hunt for the person who took her sister when they were little. Dee’s sister Lulu went missing while they were at the water with her parents, and years later no one knows what happened to her still. But Dee has hunches, and is headed back to the place it all happened to find out what went on and if her sister is still alive somewhere.

I can’t say much more except please read this, it messes with your head so much and it all becomes very clear towards the end. It’s brilliantly written and I’m jealous of anyone who gets to read it for the first time!
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There was a buzz about this one and the talk of a new gothic novel made it a must-read. My first impression of Ted’s broken voice was not a good one; I found the prose clumsy and odd and immediately I sensed some contrivance at hand. Matters picked up when the story of the girl going missing at the lake introduced a fairly standard crime trope. However, pretty early on I guessed what might be happening in Ted’s house. For me personally this was a bit of a let down. There were some nice reveals about Ted’s history but overall I found this kind of plot rather too contrived for my taste. I think some people will find the 'twist' engaging but overall the book lacked pace and some of the best ideas about what happened at the lake were defused by being reported 'off screen'. What it does have is originality and Ted and his house are strikingly creepy.
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I received an ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and publisher Serpent's Tail / Profile Books in exchange for an honest review.

It has been a long time since I've read a book that has made me struggle to put into words the effect it has had on me. Particularly when it comes to this book, I feel it is better to go in blind so I can't actually say too much about it. On the surface, The Last House on Needless Street is a familiar story. We are introduced to Ted, a man who was suspected of kidnapping a little girl several years ago and who now lives with a mysterious daughter and a cat. The cat acts as a secondary narrator and this is where the weirdness starts.

Almost immediately you get the sense that something is 'wrong' with this picture, and it's that wrongness that draws you in and keeps you hooked. It is very easy as a reader to make assumptions and this book plays with this, making you feel like you are wandering into an obvious trap and yet you can't see how else things could go. The result is this book casts a brilliant spell. It consumed me in a way few books can, and I was desperate to keep reading it at every opportunity.

Overall, I don't think there's much else I can say except that I think most people should give this book a try. The horror is subtle and slow, and it creeps up on you. I think even those who don't enjoy horror as a genre but enjoy thrillers or similar mysteries would get something out of this book. It has a lot of depth and interesting things to say, as well as just being a fantastically written and immensely entrancing story. I know this book will stay in my mind for a long time after reading it and it was an experience I won't forget.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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