Published By: Viper
Released On: 20/04/2023
Writers are monsters. We eat everything we see…
In a windswept cottage overlooking the sea, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of his childhood companions and the shadowy figure of the Daggerman, who stalked the New England town where they spent their summers. Of a horror that has followed Wilder through the decades. And of Sky, Wilder’s one-time friend, who stole his unfinished memoir and turned it into a lurid bestselling novel, The Sound and the Dagger.
This book will be Wilder’s revenge on Sky, who betrayed his trust and died without ever telling him why. But as he writes, Wilder begins to find notes written in Sky’s signature green ink, and events in his manuscript start to chime eerily with the present. Is Sky haunting him? And who is the dark-haired woman drowning in the cove, whom no one else can see?
No longer able to trust his own eyes, Wilder feels his grip on reality slipping. And he begins to fear that this will not only be his last book, but the last thing he ever does.
Thanks to NetGalley and Viper for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
It’s difficult to go into too much detail about this book for fear of spoilers, and this is a book you need to go in blind. So instead, this review is just going to be a plethora of adjectives explaining just how fabulous Catriona Ward really is.
I might like a good thriller, but very rarely do I do horror. I am a self-confessed wuss. I don’t like horror books, horror films, horror TV shows, horror-themed theme park rides – you name it, I don’t like it. But for some reason, even though I know Ward’s books are generally classified as horror, I can read them, and I enjoy them. I think it’s because her writing talent makes for such literary masterpieces, that it’s impossible to tear yourself away, regardless of how scary they may be.
The story is so creepily woven together that you’re not always convinced you know what’s happening when and to whom and how it all links. It’s confusing but not in a bad way, it keeps you on your toes. It’s all brilliantly written and brilliantly concocted, but there’s a haziness around the edges that adds to the madness of it all just makes it even better.
I have only read 3 of Ward’s books – The Last House on Needless Street, Sundial and this. Sundial was even better than The Last House… and this is even better than Sundial. Her books just keep getting better and better, more refined, more skillful, more thrilling. It leaves you knowing how good the future of her work will be.
There’s a range of characters but it focusses mainly on Wilder, Nat and Harper. Each of those three is brilliantly written. Every single one. It’s masterful character development and you end up in awe of their creation.
It is a proper story of obsession, love, loss, grief, trauma, delusion, nightmares, horror, trust, dishonesty. Somehow this story is fantastical, hard to believe, over the top, but also close to home, warming, and almost every day, in a weird way, and I just don’t know how she manages to marry that all together. Its unnerving and uncomfortable, but completely and utterly addictive.
I was expecting to be on edge, to be frightened, but I didn’t expect to find it as emotional as I did. It’s heart-breaking and I found myself almost in tears at several points. It is so powerful. Even the harsh, raw, scary parts have a kind of love and sentiment and feeling about it and it takes your heart on a ride.
It’s obvious why she keeps winning the Best Horror Novel accolade at the British Fantasy Awards. There are plenty of horror writers out there (although due to my being a wuss, I can’t say I know many), but this book is proof that she is a one-of-a-kind writer whose stories will live on amongst the greats.
You will never be a step ahead of this book. You will get to a stage where you think you know what’s going on, but you’re wrong. Then you’ll get to grips with it again, and then it’ll prove you wrong again. It’s a rollercoaster that you cannot get off, even when you think it might be slowing down.
I feel that every day a new Catriona Ward book is released should be a bank holiday with that book on prescription, so everyone can spend the day losing themselves in it.