Review: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

posed bookstagram photo featuring The Last House on Needless Street
Photo: Haley Newlin

The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward 
Tor Night Fire (September 2021)
352 pages; $24.79 audiobook,  $19.29 paperback, $14.99 ebook
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street promises a serial killer, a kidnapped child, a religious cat, and falsities scattered in every direction — one misstep and the trap snaps.
The main character, Ted, carries childhood trauma, a strange attachment to his abusive mother, and a dangerous, twisted side that reminds me of the real-world serial killer, Ed Gein, who went on to inspire characters like Norman Bates and Thomas Harris’ Buffalo Bill.

How Catriona Ward pieces the tale together with themes of isolation, family secrets, and trauma feels like she is the Shirley Jackson of our time.

The Last House On Needless Street is a deranged, devious read with gothic influence, unreliable yet sympathetic characters, and a hell of a lot of thrills. One character wants out of the grim house at the of Needless Street, another wants desperately to keep everyone in, plus a few new kidnapped victims, while another lives in a total delusion — blissfully unaware of the chaos.

At one point, I thought things came together too easily. But, I still had one hundred pages to go and let me tell you, Ward taunts readers like kids in a maze. The minute you think you have it figured out, you hit a wall, or are clueless at a crossroad.

I haven’t read anything this psychologically complex and sound since Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Robert Bloch’s Psycho.

I’d put this in my top three favorite books of the year. A haunting, heartbreaking novel that will be heard to forget.

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