Little Eve by Catriona Ward
Tor Nightfire (October 2022)
288 pages; $17.98 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin
Catriona Ward, the author of The Last House On Needless Street and Sundial, backs readers into a corner with seething screams, venomous fangs, and hot splashing blood in her latest release, Little Eve.
Ward’s introduction says that family is the heart of Little Eve, a vast statement open to infinite interpretations. Initially, I thought Ward referred to her family’s love and support, especially after describing her childhood and close relationship with her siblings.
But Little Eve is so much more than familial bonds. It’s blood and found family, complacency in familial discrepancies, imprisonment, betrayal, blood rituals, and even enucleation.
You have woke me with blood. Give your flesh to the isle. Be one with it and with me.
The secluded, grim isle of Altnaharra (Scotland) is home to children born from the sea. The Adder provides for them and keeps them sheltered, fed, pure, and under their Uncle’s “loving” rule. And soon He will bring a reckoning upon the impure — anyone off the isle — but Eve, and her siblings will be safe.
However, every family has a black sheep. The one who is in trouble constantly, who gets on everyone’s nerves, and who provokes both the parents and the siblings. Eve was like that, though she tried her hardest to stay on Uncle’s good side. She knew the power of the Adder would be hers one day. And what’s a little nick here and there to prove it? Her scars were proof of her purity.
When Eve’s hellbent thirst for distinction and honor goes a step too far, Uncle gives her a special assignment. She wrote the letter, delivered it, all under the Adder’s watchful eyes, and soon, a brutal murder unfolds. Chief Inspector Black comes to investigate, threatening their sacrifices and upcoming ritual.
And everything that follows carves the family’s future in the isle’s blood-soaked sacred stone.
Little Eve is quick-paced and compelling. The plot is measured and sinister, taking readers through a maze of timelines and perspectives dripping with dedication and eventual desperation. Its intoxicating dark energy is addictive and unputdownable.
In what is sure to be one of the best horror novels of 2022, Little Eve is cunning, incredulously imaginative, and twisted. The book digs its fangs into readers, coming away oozing with tragedy and blood. After all, isn’t that what family is?