The Last House on Needless Street

Tor Nightfire. Sept. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781250812629. $27.99. HORROR
Ted lives at the end of the forebodingly named Needless Street, in a house with boarded-up windows at the edge of a forest. There he hosts visits with his daughter and tries hard to hold his life together by keeping to himself as much as possible. The novel opens, quite unsettlingly, on the anniversary of the disappearance of a young girl, a disappearance that Ted was initially suspected of causing. Ward’s layered plot is slowly but compellingly unveiled, raising new questions at every turn. The multiple points of view, featuring vivid characters with honest but clearly incomplete narration, also draw us deeper into the various mysteries entangled within the central plot. The result is a stunning and immersive tale of psychological horror. It’s terrifyingly real and physically upsetting, yet, like the best of the genre, it leaves space for hope to ultimately shine through.
VERDICT Disguising itself as a straightforward serial killer story, this strikingly original work quickly evolves into a more special story. It will push readers to their limit, but also make them glad they stuck it out. It’s a good match, in this way, to Stephen Graham Jones’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw, Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World, or Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir In the Dream House.
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