Sundial By Catriona Ward – A Review

Publisher: Viper

Publication Date: 10th March 2022

‘It’s possible to feel the horror of something and to accept it all at the same time. How else could we cope with being alive?’

Well…..yet again I find myself in a situation where I’ve read an an absolute stormer of a book that I want you all to read IMMEDIATELY…BUT I can’t tell you too much about the plot because that would just ruin the experience for you! This was the case with The Last House On Needless Street (which I did manage to review spoiler free here), and Catriona Ward has done it AGAIN.

Sundial was a proof I was lusting after and when one dropped trough my letterbox I knew I couldn’t wait until closer to publication, so I read it straight away over pretty much 24 hours.

So what’s it all about?

The book opens by introducing us to a family, Rob, her husband Irving and their two daughters Callie and Annie. Annie has contracted chicken pox and this is an indication to Rob that Irving has been having yet another affair, this time with the neighbour.

There is definite tension in the family and when Rob’s 12 year old daughter Callie starts to act strangely, collecting animal bones and potentially harming her little sister Annie, Rob has to make some tough decisions.

It’s decided that both Rob and Callie will take some time away, just the two of them and go and stay at Rob’s family home, Sundial, deep in the Mojave desert.

It’s whilst here in the isolated heat that Rob confronts some deeply buried secrets from her past. A past which involved issues with her twin sister Jack and their commune-like family life at Sundial.

It’s here that I have to pause a little and consider how much to actually tell you. The chapters involving Rob and Jack’s past are complex and twisted but we get to see where Rob’s fears for her daughter originate from.

We also get to see the point that Rob first meets Irving and their ensuing relationship which enables us to better understand why there is a veil of violence and mistrust over their complicated marriage.

Catriona Ward takes you to places you never knew you could go and makes you think about things you never have before. There are times throughout the book where you think you have it nailed, but trust me you haven’t! And I don’t mean that in a glib ‘there’s a twist you won’t see coming!’ kind of way.

This story is dripping with unease, darkness and horror. There is an insidious feeling of the world being off-kilter, of the darkest of secrets beginning to reveal themselves. Once you start on this rollercoaster ride you won’t want to get off!

Having said that, it’s not always an easy read. There is violence, baby-loss, death, animal testing, domestic abuse, drug use. All the grim stuff! Maybe bear this in mind if you’re at all sensitive about reading around these subjects.

The characters are hugely flawed… are they! And you find yourself getting mixed up in their lies and inner demons. Trying to figure them out when really you haven’t a hope in hell!

The desert setting only adds to the ratcheting tension with its arid dryness and intense heat, not to mention it’s predators and dangers. Sundial ranch almost starts to become a character in itself.

I raced through this book and as with The Last House On Needless Street I bloody LOVED IT!

Do yourself a favour and buy yourself a copy immediately.

Thank you to Viper for my proof copy.

See you all soon.

Amanda xx


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