I've often made the claim that there has not been a defining masterpiece in the horror genre in a long, long, time. The kind of book that changes the game. That shakes the foundations of the field. A book like The Shining, The Exorcist, Interview with the Vampire, The Ceremonies, The Keep, Swan Song.

There have been some close calls: A Head Full of Ghosts, Bird Box, The Passage. None have quite made it into the masterpiece category.

Now we have a novel from a newer writer that is heralded as a groundbreaking horror novel. I haven't seen hype like this in ages. The book is The House on Needless Street, and its author is Catriona Ward.

Ward has been compared to Shirley Jackson. That's better than the next Stephen King or yet another new Edward Lee. I heard that The House on Needless Street is literate, subtle, complex, and utterly brilliant, so naturally I was intrigued.

The Last House on Needless Street is coming out in September, 2021 in the States, but the British edition was published in April. I couldn't wait, so I ordered a copy of the hardcover from The Book Depository.

The verdict?

The Last House on Needless Street is the horror novel we've been waiting for. It's the horror novel we have needed. Despite the tsunami of product out there, I feel like the genre has been in the doldrums. Good stuff comes out all the time, yes, but we have needed a new voice to lift the horror field up and into a more respectable place.

I can't divulge much of anything about the plot of The Last House on Needless Street. It would be a crime to even hint at the novels' many secrets. Suffice to say that it is a work of genius. Comparisons to Jackson are certainly apt, but Catriona Ward might be even better.

The Last House on Needless Street demands a degree of patience. For me the first couple of chapters were disjointed and a little bit frustrating. Bear with Catriona Ward. She will take you to some dark places in this novel.

I'm still processing the book, and still trying to work my head around the story and its nuances. I'm tempted to say that The Last House on Needless Street is the best horror novel of the last thirty years.

It's more heartbreaking than horrifying, and some might not even consider The Last House on Needless Street to be a horror novel. That's certainly debatable, and I've never been one to pigeonhole books into specific categories. It's a dark story that got under my skin and into my head. Horror? Sure, I'll call it that.

I hope The Last House on Needless Street ushers in a new era of subtle, intelligent horror. Writers have taken the extremes farther than they ever need to go, in my opinion.

Written by Mark Sieber

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