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The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward - Review

Friday, March 10, 2023

This is by far one of the weirdest and most unsettling books I've ever read. My mother in law bought it for me for Christmas 2021. She also bought a copy for my brother in law's fiancee; she likes books too. She read this quite recently which reminded me that I really needed to get to it. I read it at the end of February, making 8 books for February which is very respectable especially given it's a short month. For comparison, I read 8 books in January too. 

So, there are two strands to the book. I'll start with the more normal one. Dee, Delilah, is in her late twenties. The book is set in  the Pacific North West, Washington or Oregon or whatever. Dee was seventeen years old when, eleven years ago, she was at a lake with her parents and sister Lulu when Lulu disappeared and was never seen again. Dee is now alone, her parents gone, and she's still obsessed with finding out what happened. She is in constant contact with the police officer working on the case, Karen, and drives her nuts with all her questions. She has paid private investigators to follow any leads on Lulu and one comes up with a potential suspect, whose house was searched at around the time of Lulu's disappearance. There is a photo of an inhabitant of the house standing on the lawn. This is Ted. 

So, Ted lives in the house that he grew up in. He had an abusive childhood; his mother only fed the family baby food and his dad lost his job and drank too much and ends up disappearing. Ted is a loner, and in the first part of the book definitely comes across as autistic. He relives his past often. He lives with Lauren, a young girl who can't walk and who needs a lot of care, and his black cat, Olivia. Ted keeps his 'gods' buried in the woods behind his house; the reader is supposed to assume that Lulu is among these remains. 

I wasn't sure how the two strands were going to collide, but they do. As the book goes on it becomes obvious that some things aren't real. I couldn't work it out exactly but I did guess some of the twists. I liked the resolution to Ted's story but I REALLY liked the resolution to Dee's - I hadn't seen those twists coming at all. 

This is a horrific book, though, with graphic descriptions of abuse. I felt like I was holding my breath throughout the whole thing! I'm giving it four out of five. 

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