If you were left bewitched by Catriona Ward’s The Last House On Needless Street, then you are in for an even darker reckoning with her follow-up, Sundial. From the outside, it looks like Rob lives an idyllic life with her two daughters and husband, but on the inside, her marriage is falling apart as she ducks and dives from cruel mental blows delved out by her manipulative and cheating husband. The increasingly strange behaviour of eldest daughter Callie, whose passion for collecting animal bones is only interrupted when she is brutalising younger sister Annie, is very much in the mix too.
If Sundial focused on Rob’s toxic family life alone it would be enough to keep the reader hooked, as Ward turns everyday life into a believable recurring nightmare; but there is much more to come as the author slowly peels back each decaying and rotten layer to reveal something more shocking each time. Rob takes Callie back to Sundial, the town where she grew up, for some mother-and-daughter bonding.
Sundial, with its dubious and deserted buildings within the scorched Mojave desert, has some disturbing secrets too. To say more would be a spoiler, but what can be said is that this novel is up there with the master of psychological horror, Stephen King.
Sundial, Catriona Ward (Viper)
Price: £14.99. Info: here
words DAVID NOBAKHT
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