I read The Last House on Needless Street, Catriona Ward’s last novel, just a little while back, and was suitably gobsmacked. It’s equal parts, audacious, heartbreaking, and creepy, a tour de force that finds Ward juggling five or six different narrators (one of whom is a cat…seriously), each more unreliable than the last. It’s a thrilling, flawless high wire act.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but holy fuck, Sundial is even better. Ward burrows her way beneath your skin, sets her barbed hooks deep, then spends 272 pages dragging those hooks out of your flesh slowly but inexorably. Sundial is part psychological horror, part desert-set gothic, and part extremely dysfunctional family drama, with a little Island of Dr. Moreau thrown in for good measure.
Rob has a curdled marriage to a sometimes abusive husband, and two daughters. The oldest, Callie, has a darkness inside her that’s beginning to manifest in horrifying ways. Ways that remind Rob all too well of secrets buried in her own troubled past.
And…that’s all you’re getting. Much like she did with Last House on Needless Street, Ward has concealed twists and shocks throughout Sundial. They explode like land mines, psychic shrapnel, constantly reshaping the novel, never letting you catch your breath. To give away any more than I have would be criminal.
Sundial release March 1st, 2022, but is available for pre-order now. This is a must-read. In fact, anything Ward writes from now on will be a must-read for me.