Publisher: Viper Books
Publication Date: 18th March 2021
If ever there was a book that I wanted to bypass a writing a review and just shout READ THIS IMMEDIATELY!!! It’s The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward.
To be honest I’m so nervous about writing this review because I have a feeling I may short change you on the details but it is nigh on impossible to explain the plot of this wonderful book without ruining it completely for you. Something which I will never do. Spoiler free reviews here as always.
But this does leave me with quite the predicament. All I can do is give you as much as I can of the plot, say some words about how important it is that you go out and buy this book now. Like RIGHT NOW. And then send you on your merry way to buy it. Because you SIMPLY MUST buy it. (I’ll stop with the bold caps now).
Ted Bannerman, our main protagonist voice is a man who lives on Needless Street with his cat Olivia and his young daughter Lauren. Ted is considered strange, a quirky character who from the off has a narrative that feels very off-kilter. You know as a reader that something is very much ‘not right’ with Ted’s life and his way of thinking. This is highlighted by how he lives in his disordered rundown house with wooden planks nailed across the windows.
The story starts with a murder. But not the usual murder you’d be expecting. Ted has a great love of birds and has a garden full of feeders. When someone sets traps to kill these birds, which Ted discovers dead in his garden it sets off a chain of events. The murder of the birds coincides with the 11th year anniversary of a young girl going missing. She’s dubbed Little Girl With Popsicle by Ted and at the time of her disappearance Ted was actually a suspect who was later cleared.
The young girl’s sister Dee has tried and failed over the years to locate the person who took her sister from the lake 11 years ago but she is determined to crack the case and get justice for little Lulu. When Ted comes back on to her radar she takes up residence into the empty house next door to Ted do that she can befriend him and observe his every move.
Along with Ted’s narrative we hear from Olivia the cat. I have to hold my hands up and say I was a little reticent about how this would be dealt with. I cannot get onboard with talking animals in books but Olivia’s voice such as it is was perfectly written. It didn’t ever feel silly and contrived in any way and actually becomes a huge part of the story as time progresses.
We also hear from Lauren, Ted’s daughter. Who is portrayed as a wilful girl with a quick temper, prone to outbursts of anger. Their relationship is tricky, with Lauren coming across as a difficult child to control.
Ted often refers back to his childhood and talks about his ‘Mommy’ in a childlike, immature tone. Mommy is a complex character who wields her power over little Ted and his father. She is quite often cruel which is thinly veiled as ‘caring’ and lots of things are done for Ted’s own good. Lessons to be learned about life which she feels will serve him well in the future.
As a reader you know that there are many holes in Ted’s memory and he is the ultimate unreliable narrator. There are sentences within this book that really make you stop and think ‘that can’t be right’. There are small details almost concealed within the narrative that give you a jolt and have you questioning what you’ve read before. This book gave me frown lines I was thinking that hard! I may need Botox!
You lovely lot know that I love nothing more than a dark and twisty tale where something isn’t right and you can’t put your finger on it. That’s how this story starts out. You know in your heart of hearts that Ted’s whole existence isn’t normal but you’re waiting to discover what and why…..
There is a building sense of unease as you read which ramps up to real tension. And I’m talking shoulders up around your ears, breath holding tension.
I really can’t tell you anything else plot wise. I know, it’s a bit rum of me but seriously, you just to buy this book and put your faith in me!
I have always loved Catriona Ward’s writing and really enjoyed Rawblood and Little Eve. She is a writer who can draw you in completely into dark world’s and each of her books are completely unique. I can honestly say I have never read a book like The Last House On Needless Street. Ever. It tackles a subject I don’t think I’ve ever read about and in such a deft and confident way.
I read this book in one breathless sitting and I feel like this was the best way to consume it. In any case I couldn’t put it down anyway! You emerge at the end with such a strange feeling. One which I’m struggling to label as I write this review less than 24 hours after finishing the book.
It is certainly a book I will never ever forget! I urge you all to pick up a copy! Speaking of which……
Pre-order is currently available for The Last House On The Needless Street from any UK retailer, in hardback, ebook or audiobook. Pre-order your copy now, and send proof of receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and receive an EXCLUSIVE enamel pin! Get your pre-orders in as soon as possible so you don’t miss out. T&Cs apply. Open to UK only. Closes Wednesday 17th March.
What more can you ask for!
A big thank you as always to the publisher and Miranda Jewess for my review copy. Bloody beltin!
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx