New horror novel releases are always a big draw for me. It’s my preferred genre, and I constantly find myself on the lookout for great original horror novels to keep me up at night. When The Last House on Needless Street showed up as a suggestion for me I was immediately hooked by the synopsis, which ironically gives away almost no information about the story. This works in its favour. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of The Last House on Needless Street thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge and I’m so grateful that I went in basically blind. That said, if you’re a reader seeking information about this chilling novel, look no further.

The Last House on Needless Street Synopsis

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The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Ted lives in a rundown house at the end of Needless Street, with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia to keep him company. He’s trying to keep things together, but he’s having a hard time of it. He’s losing time, not remembering things that he’s done. Lauren is constantly giving him a hard time, and he keeps trying – unsuccessfully – to find a date. Add in a young woman who’s moved in across the street, and his privacy is being invaded at every turn. But Ted has a lot more going on than the reader – or even he – understands. 

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Multiple narrators including Ted, Lauren, and even his cat Olivia take the reader through the ups and downs in The Last House on Needless Street, all while hiding a more sinister story at its core. Haunted by the disappearance of a young girl 11 years earlier, Ted just wants to forget. His new neighbor Dee just wants answers. And like the great psychological horror it is, all is not as it seems in this brilliantly unsettling tale by Rawblood author Catriona Ward. The Last House on Needless Street is about a murderer, but trust me, it’s not about the kind of murderer you think it is.

The Last House on Needless Street: A Mind Bending Review

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The Last House on Needless Street – Depiction of Ted’s House

I’ll be the first to say that I went into The Last House on Needless Street thinking that the story would be much more straightforward than it turned out to be. Boy, was I wrong. This was my first Catriona Ward read, and after having finished this novel she’s heading straight towards my auto-buy list at full speed. This story was incredibly well written. When I started reading, I didn’t think that the convoluted sort of narrative style would be for me, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that within a few chapters I was hooked. 

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That is when it happened. A soft white glow gathered on his chest, over the place where his heart must be. The glow became a cord, reaching out through the air. The cord approached me. I rowed and struggled. But I was held fast. I felt the light encircle my neck, link me to his heart. It didn’t hurt. It bound us together.

Ward expertly creates separate characters with their own personalities, which are apparent in each individual’s chapter. Now I know that cats can’t speak, but if they could I imagine they’d sound a lot like Olivia.The multiple perspectives used for narration in The Last House on Needless Street add to the tense, stressful moments that each character experiences. And each narrator has their own distinct voice – Dee is determined, Ted is disjointed, and Olivia is disinterested (much like a cat would be). The overall atmosphere of the story is uncomfortable – in a good way – for lack of a better term. As a reader I found myself shifting in my seat while Ted provided insight into his childhood trauma and his coping mechanisms.

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The Last House on Needless Street – Interior of Ted’s House

I can’t say too much about the deeper issues at the heart of The Last House on Needless Street without spoiling the fascinating plot twists, but they are so much more involved than they appear at first glance. I never expected to feel the sympathetic feelings that I had towards Ted’s character – he’s a killer committing atrocious acts… right?

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The story has so many layers to it, and each individual’s narrative gives us some information while still managing to conceal the big reveal for a later chapter. Fun fact: Andy Serkis’ production company has snatched up the rights for a film version of The Last House on Needless Street. I’m very interested to see how a film version of this novel will play out. Hopefully Serkis won’t feel the need to motion capture Olivia the cat. Although we’ve all seen Cats, which was a bit of a horror movie honestly…

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Final Thoughts

The Last House on Needless Street greatly exceeded my expectations. One of those fortuitous situations when I headed into a book without expectations and came out pretty blown away. It may not appeal to those who prefer a more linear narrative style, but with chapters clearly indicated it isn’t all that difficult to keep up. Twists and turns at every corner, you’ll come out of this story with a completely different opinion from the one that you started with. It’s an all at once gripping, surprising and heartbreaking mystery, and a story that I’ll remember for a long time.

A dark past and literal buried secrets make The Last House on Needless Street a story that’s hard to put down. If you’re looking for a book that makes you think twice, you’ve found the right one for you.

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9.0
Score

Pros

  • Intricate
  • Surprising
  • Gripping
  • Chilling

Cons

  • Potentially Confusing
Disturbing Narratives
9/10
Bonkers Plot Twists
10/10
Spooky Atmosphere
8/10
Kitty Characterization
9/10

Final Verdict

A dark past and literal buried secrets make The Last House on Needless Street a story that’s hard to put down. If you’re looking for a book that makes you think twice, you’ve found the right one for you.