The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward is the latest novel from the multi-award-winning gothic author. This is her first novel with Serpent’s Tail imprint, Viper Books. After her earlier novels Rawblood and Little Eve gained wide critical acclaim, can The Last House on Needless Street live up to the hype?
Dee has never been the same since her sister went missing on a family holiday. Known to most as Little Girl with Popsicle, her sister Lulu disappeared and was never seen again. The years passed and so did her parents, but she never gave up the hunt to find the person that took her sister. Even when the detective in charge of the case started to give up, Dee kept hunting. At last, she has the address of the man who was originally suspected of her abduction. He lives in the last house on Needless Street, right next to the woods. A thick, quiet woodland where you could hide anything.
Ted lives alone behind boarded-up windows, hiding from the prying eyes of his neighbours. His young daughter stays from time to time, but he keeps her hidden away too. His mother always warned him how dangerous the outside world was, and she wasn’t wrong. He goes out sometimes, usually when he loses time. He’ll close his eyes in one place and wake up in another. Maybe it’s nothing, or maybe he’s visiting his favourite place in the woods.
Olivia is Ted’s cat. He found her after her mother and siblings all passed away one stormy night. Since then, an invisible bond has connected them. She’s there to make his life better, to make him smile when he’s sad and calm him when he’s stressed. Recently he’s been dating and it’s not gone too well, so he’s been extra stressed.
THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET REVIEW
So, where do I even start with this?! Firstly, when I started reading The Last House on Needless Street, I expected a bone-chilling horror and prepared myself for some gore. After finishing it, I wouldn’t describe it as that; it’s more of a gothic psychological thriller. However, Catriona Ward has penned something really unique here that booksellers will struggle to find a genre to shelve it under.
The Last House on Needless Street is a masterclass in twists and turns. As soon as you think you have it all figured out, there will be one more twist to keep you gripped. It doesn’t just get under your skin; it embeds itself there like your first blurry green/black tattoo you had a fifteen (just me?). Since finishing it, I’ve thought about it every single day. There were moments when I thought continuity mistakes had been made (I have a proof copy so it can happen) but trust me when I say that nothing in this book is a mistake.
As you can probably tell from the lack of plot details, I’m doing all I can to avoid spoilers. What I can say is that The Last House on Needless Street is an incredible character-driven novel. However, none of the characters are quite what they appear. They’re all complex and driven by completely different pain and fears.
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward will undoubtedly be on my top 10 book list of 2021. Although gothic and dark throughout, there’s a surprisingly positive thread that emerges. Please don’t ask me how because that would involve at least a hundred spoilers.
At times, you find yourself feeling genuinely sorry for Ted, a man who is obviously a threat to the women around him. The fact that Catriona has crafted characters that you can be scared of and feel sorry for at the same time is incredible. To say she has mad skills is a massive underestimation here.
I’m super excited by the news that Andy Serkis’ production company has optioned the film rights to this because it’ll be a whole new way to enjoy this story. He’s going to struggle massively to live up to what lies between these pages, but I can’t wait to hear who they cast. Personally, I had Cameron Britton in my head as Ted.
I wish I could wax lyrical about what twists I liked best and the clues I missed, but I have no intention of explaining the ending. That’s a journey you need to take yourself. The Last House on Needless Street is an absolute tour de force of a novel. Prepare to be scared, angry and heart-broken, all in one book. Now stop reading this and go buy it, I promise you won’t regret it.
If you liked this, you’ll enjoy Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.