WARNING: This post contains teeny-weeny plot details for The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, and Near the Bone by Christina Henry.
I didn’t mean to read two books with themes of abduction and abuse back-to-back, but I did. Here are my highly scientific findings:
I finally read The Last House on Needless Street. Was it worth the wait? Well, I think I’d built it up too much. I didn’t know anything about the plot, just that it was written by the amazing Catriona Ward, and it was billed as a horror novel.
There is no doubt that there are horrific incidents in this book, but I would describe this book as a Mystery/Thriller novel, rather than Horror. On the surface, Needless Street is a novel about abduction and abuse, and the various ways they can impact a community, a family, an individual. There are several narrators in the book, and one is a cat! How can anyone not enjoy the inner monologue of a lovely cat?
The Last House on Needless Street is a very well-written book, and has a lot of fantastic ideas, but I was expecting something different. And that is totally my problem. I will still recommend this book to most of my bookish friends, but I think my expectations were unrealistically high.
However, I can recommend a book with similar themes that I do think could be classed as “horror”, and that is Near the Bone by Christina Henry. You can find my formal NetGalley review here. I grabbed this book without hesitation because Christina Henry is brilliant. If anyone ever wants to talk about her Peter Pan retelling, Lost Boy, I am here for it. That book is amazing.
Near the Bone covers similar themes of kidnapping and abuse, but also throws in a supernatural element that just works so well. It reminded me of the movie adaptation of Adam Neville’s The Ritual. Combine monstrous human with actual monsters? Sign me up!
It was difficult not to compare the two books, given I read them back-to-back, and they somewhat cover similar ground. Needless Street is perhaps more cerebral, although I predicted the ending quite early on in the book. I would absolutely read it again to appreciate all the author’s subtle seeds. Near the Bone delivers thrills and chills at breakneck speed. I had physical reactions to this book; I gasped, I screamed, I cheered.
The Last House on Needless Street is rightfully getting a lot of buzz and attention, it’s a hugely accomplished piece of writing. And if you enjoy it, and want something a bit more “horror”, I thoroughly recommend reading Near the Bone.
The Last House on Needless Street, by Catriona Ward, is out now in the UK from Viper, and will be released in the US from Nightfire on September 28th.
Near the Bone, by Christina Henry, is out on April 13th, from Berkley Books in the US, and Titan in the UK. HUGE thanks to Berkley books for the ARC.