Catriona Ward rocked the world of horror fiction last year with her explosive novel, The Last House on Needless Street. It won over a lot of people in the genre. Myself most definitely included. Thankfully we did not have to wait long for a followup.

People wondered if she could strike gold again. A big success can be a death knell. We're still waiting for Gillian Flynn to give us another book after her groundbreaking Gone Girl.

I'm am ecstatic to report that Sundial isn't merely as good as The Last House on Needless Street. It is better.

Sundial is going to leave some readers behind. There are a few reasons for this.

One, Sundial is a difficult read. It is complicated and the novel is not structured in a conventional way. It's a puzzle box, and getting to the answers is a painful process. Ward demands a lot from her readers, but she delivers in the end.

Two, Sundial is incredibly disturbing. There are points where I was literally disgusted by what I was reading. However, Catriona Ward isn't some grossout writer. She's a lot closer to Joyce Carol Oates than she is to Edward Lee.

Three, there are some who cannot stand to read about violence to animals. Dogs in particular. I don't get that because I can differentiate between fiction and reality, but I do understand that there are things we simply do not wish to read about. Those who cannot abide dog violence will not enjoy Sundial.

Those who can overcome these minor issues will be in for one hell of a ride. Sundial is absolutely brilliant. It's terrifying, but as with The Last House on Needless Street, there is strength, courage, and hope at its core.

These two books are mysteries at heart. Instead of dealing with locked doors, they are concerned with locked minds. Ward's fiction is deeply psychological and intensely emotional.

This reminds me of the days when Poppy Z. Brite seemed to pop out of nowhere. Brite's exotically decadent writing was the best thing to happen in horror fiction in the early 1990s.

Catriona Ward is possibly the best new writer in the entire field. No one I've read has affected me so deeply.

Ward has two previous novels that I have yet to read. I have Rawblood, and I plan to start it soon. Little Eve will be reprinted by Tor/Nightfire in October 2022.

Written by Mark Sieber

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