Cover Image: Looking Glass Sound

Looking Glass Sound

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I love the way that Catriona Ward writes. I also love the setting and atmospheres of her books but this one fell a little flat. I honestly don't even remember most of what happened in this book after reading it.

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I love Catriona Ward and her unique storylines. The setting and plot were really interesting, but man did I get confused. It's hard to explain without spoiling anything, but I felt like the confusing complexity of the plot took me out of the story. I didn't love this one but will continue to read Ward's work because she is an awesome writer.

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"Looking Glass Sound" by Catriona Ward invites readers into a gripping tale of mystery, friendship, and dark secrets set against the backdrop of the windswept Maine coast.

In a cottage overlooking the rugged coastline of Whistler Bay, Wilder Harlow sets out to write his final book, delving into the sun-drenched memories of his youth and the chilling events that unfolded in his small vacation town. Alongside his childhood companions, Nat and Harper, Wilder uncovers a harrowing secret hidden in the coves of the bay, forever altering the course of their lives.

As Wilder delves deeper into his writing, he begins to question his own memories and perceptions. Strange occurrences plague his solitude in the cottage, from mysterious notes left behind by a deceased friend to unsettling visions of a woman in distress. With each passing day, Wilder's grip on reality loosens, and he becomes consumed by the fear that something malevolent is haunting him.

With the lines between fiction and reality blurring, Wilder grapples with the unsettling possibility that his final book may also be his last act. As he navigates the shadows of his past and the secrets buried in Whistler Bay, Wilder must confront the darkest corners of his mind to uncover the truth before it consumes him entirely.

"Looking Glass Sound" is a mesmerizing blend of psychological suspense and atmospheric storytelling, crafted with intricate detail and spine-tingling tension. Catriona Ward's masterful narrative unfolds like an origami puzzle, revealing layers of mystery and intrigue that will keep readers guessing until the final page.

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I sincerely struggled to get through this story, but that struggle came from my experience with the authors other books (sometimes you’re just not meant to read a story).

However, if you love thriller or want to jump into the horror genre, then Caroline Ward is a fantastic starting point. Unlike her other books, this one has a lake element and follows a child/teen. You can’t tell if some characters are imaginary or real. You can’t tell if everything the main character says it’s reliable. Making this a good thriller that leaves you questioning everything until the end.

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Catriona Ward has been one of my favorite authors of the past few years, and while I enjoyed the writing of Looking Glass Sound, I wasn't a big fan of the story. It felt too slow and I was a little confused. I will still recommend this book to others, because there's someone out there who will resonate with this story more than I will.

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Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. Looking Glass Sound starts off as one book and ends as a completely different one, in such a way that makes such amazing sense. Catronia Ward's books take such twisty journeys that the reader is never quite sure where they will go when they start a book. To sum this one up as best as possible, a very dark 6 Characters in Search of an Author.

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3.00 stars
TW: Murder, Suicidal thoughts, Death, Mental illness, Alcoholism, Suicide, Abortion, Bullying, Cursing
I will start by saying that I think this book is really good, just not overly for me. Catriona does an amazing job at setting up the scene for a twisted, gritty, and unexpected book. In Looking Glass Sound we follow Wilder as he recounts his life - starting from the summers he spent in a cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast. There he meets two friends who will change his life forever, the group becomes enthralled with the killer known as the Dagger Man. What starts as Wilder's autobiography then takes us through his college years where he befriends Skye.

I was hooked for the first 50% of the book, thinking we would follow along with the Dagger Man plot the entire book. Unlike most thrillers, the author deviates from the normal thriller twist and throws you in a completely different direction. Unfortunately, this plot point missed the mark for me and after introducing that aspect I started to lose focus and get confused over what was happening. Our main point of view is no longer from Wilder, which confuses things a little!

If you're looking for a twisted plot, characters who are all connected, and an ambiguous ending you might end up loving this one! After doing a bit more research on the ending I do feel like now I have a bit of clarity on what the author was going for, and can see why all of the high ratings!
I would like to thank NetGalley, Tor Publishing Group | Tor Nightfire, and Catriona Ward for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! This book was published on August 8th 2023.

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This novel is absolutely twisty and I love it! I don’t want to delve too much into the plot because I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone else. But the novel begins with Wilder, who goes to spend a summer in his dead uncle’s home with his parents and there he meets two other teens his age, Harper and Nathaniel. They become instant friends and vow to see each other every summer thereafter. But their lives become upended when a man known as “The Dagger Man” is finally discovered by the police, in ways that the group of friends never thought possible.

I’ve read previous Ward novels and I’ve loved them all. I rushed through this novel in two days, unable to put it down – I had to know what was going on! If you love coming of age, mysteries, and twists upon twists, then this novel is for you!

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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What did I just read? Not sure if this went over my head or if it's just really pretentious, but I couldn't get swept into the horror like I usually can with Catriona Ward.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this review copy in exchange for an honest opinion. Review has been posted on Amazon.

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Looking Glass Sound is a very strange book. Catriona Ward is one of my favourite authors and a master storyteller and this book was ambitious. It wont work for some readers, but I think she really pulled it off. It's hard to talk about without spoilers! Part coming of age tale, part story of revenge and trauma, it's a book about obsession in many forms. This is one of those books that you'll either love or hate - I can't imagine there's much middle ground! I ended up absolely loving it, despite being tempted to DNF at about 30% (there's a massive shift in the story that I found quite dull). I'm a huge advocate for DNFing but this is a rare case where I'm SO glad I didn't.

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Looking Glass Sound was more thriller than horror. Wilder is writing a book about his time spent on a cottage in Maine, where he spent time with 2 other teens while a killer stalked the small town. The story took awhile to get going and by the middle I was losing interest. Towards the end the plot became repetitive. This book was no where near as enjoyable as The Last House on Needless Street.

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Catriona Ward's books are so unique and this one was no different. I alternated listening to and reading this book and thought the immersive experience really made reading this book so interesting. I had no idea what this book was going to be about going in, This book is definitely hard to review without spoilers because the mystery evolves throughout and the storyline becomes complicated. While I wasn't entirely sure what was going to happen, Ward's writing style made this book so interesting to read. It felt like a puzzle trying to figure out what was happening and I definitely wanted to keep reading. Nothing is as it seems in this book and reading through the different sections and timelines, everything does start to make sense as the book goes on. The twists and turns were so well written, I was shocked more than once while reading. I will continue to read Ward's books as they are so different from other books I have read. The plots are complicated, but so interesting and the twists are some of the best I've read! I definitely recommend this one for an atmospheric and spooky read!

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I really wanted to love this after Last House on Needless street being one of my top reads of the year but it just didn't work for me. I was ready to be confused throughout the book and just accept it would all click at the end but this one was just not the best. The characters felt very juvenile and one dimensional and just ruined the story for me. Unfortunately the immaturity of the male characters just kept me from enjoying the book overall. I even got the audiobook after the release hoping that listening back would help make the story work better but unfortunately it just didn't. I would still pick up this author in the future I think that what she was trying to achieve here just didn't work for me this time sadly.

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"Looking Glass Sound" by Catriona Ward is a haunting journey into the mysterious and the unknown. Ward's evocative storytelling draws readers into a world of suspense and psychological depth. The intricate characters and atmospheric setting create a chilling narrative that lingers in the mind long after the final page. "Looking Glass Sound" is a mesmerizing read for those who appreciate a unique blend of psychological thriller and mystery, showcasing Ward's skill in crafting a tale that captivates and unsettles in equal measure.

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My mind is blown once again. Catriona Ward is a literary horror genius, and never ceases to knock my socks off.
LOOKING GLASS SOUND (like her other books), is hard to summarize, so I'll use part of the description from Goodreads-
"In a lonely cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of his childhood summer companions and the killer that stalked the small New England town. Of the body they found, and the horror of that discovery echoing down the decades.
And of Sky, Wilder's one-time best friend, who stole his unfinished memoir and turned it into a lurid bestselling novel, Looking Glass Sound. But as Wilder writes, the lines between memory and fiction blur."
LOOKING GLASS SOUND, along with THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET, are now my two favorite Cat Ward books. I especially loved this one since it takes place in Maine, one of my favorite places, and had to bring my copy on our most recent visit for a photo shoot, of course.
I also had the ultimate pleasure of meeting Catriona recently, and am so thrilled to now have all of my copies of her books signed!
Anyways, highly recommend this one if you're looking for a twisty, mind-bending literary horror!

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This was a wild ride. Ward kept flipping everything on it's head and I realized I couldn't trust anything or anyone. So many secrets between multiple unreliable narrators. It was a bit much to keep up with on audio but that just means I can do a reread and still be as surprised as I was the first time around.

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Two summers in a row, Wilder Harlow and his friends enjoy the freedom of boating, games, and beaches at Looking Glass Sound, but when the second ends in a town tragedy, the three of them are changed forever. Now a middle-aged man, Wilder returns to Looking Glass Sound to write his final memoir before his suicide– the story that was stolen from him in college and sold as a best-selling novel. But the longer Wilder stays in the town, the more his grip on memory and reality begin to weaken, until he begins to suspect he may be haunted by the characters in the story. I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Tor Nightfire. Trigger warnings: character death, suicidal ideation, body horror (graphic), torture/captivity mentions, poisoning, drowning, abortion, anxiety/panic attacks, internalized homophobia.

This started off so strong and then descended into absurdity. I really enjoyed the beginning story of the three friends and the chilling town murders and, to be perfectly honest, I think this by itself would have made a better novel. Had Ward spent more time developing these beginning relationships, dropping clues, and building up to the reveal, it would have been a more than adequate murder mystery story with a twist that, if not shocking, at least would have been heartfelt (and terrifying). The characters aren’t particularly likeable, but at that age they are, at least, compelling in a way that drifts off when they get older and continue to be horrible.

Instead, Ward seems more focused on repeating the same kind of twisty mindfuck from The Last House on Needless Street instead of just… telling a good story. The thing is that not every story needs to be told that way. She seems to be playing around with metafiction here with the shifting perspectives and multiple retellings from different angles. There’s an entire section that repeats the first part as a “novelization” with different characters that’s downright tedious to read. Like a lot of metafiction where form doesn’t follow function, it ends up feeling gimmicky and pointless. I like the end concept okay as a concept, but it comes so late in the book that it doesn’t even feel real, let alone like it has any basis for being there. It ultimately ends up feeling like two very different books smashed together, and it does neither of them justice. Looking Glass Sound sacrifices good storytelling for the sake of cleverness without ever actually being that clever.

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Though not my favorite book by Ward, LOOKING GLASS SOUND delivered the thrills and chills I expect from the author. The author has a gift for playing with her characters' minds and in this book, she pushes that to the limits. Wilder is a fabulous character and the unraveling of his world was a quite compelling read.

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Based on my previous experience reading a Catriona Ward book, I came into this knowing as little as possible. I was concerned knowing too much would ruin the experience. Unlike her previous books, though, I think knowing something about what it’s about will actually help this book find the right audience. So let me tell you.

This book uses magical realism to explore how writers pull elements of the real world into their “fictional” stories. It explores just how acceptable that is. It also looks at how much a writer ends up living inside their own stories. All of this is wrapped up in a mystery story.

Here’s the thing. A lot of readers might go into this book expecting a mystery about a killer in a New England town with a shocking twist. That is not the trajectory of this book. It’s a very meta book about writing. It’s a book inside another book inside another book. It’s a little difficult to untwist and figure out what’s really going on and what’s fiction in this world.

I really respect the amount of work and plot development that went into this. The author had to write in multiple different styles as convincingly different authors. (Although I preferred The Villa by Rachel Hawkins for how it did a book inside another book – my review.) The meta commentary on writing is a literary exploration in navel-gazing that a lot of readers might enjoy. Except those who wanted the New England beach killer story with a twist. So this book might be struggling a bit to find its audience.

One thing that did bother me that should have been caught in editing is that these New England characters sometimes speak with a British affect. (There is one British character who, of course, should speak like a Brit.) I don’t mean they’re written with an accent but rather they sometimes say words or speak in a certain manner that I’ve only ever heard British people speak. (I was born in New England and have lived here all my life…so I know how we talk.)

The mystery was kind of mysterious but also not really the point of the book. The resolution left me scratching my head a bit, largely because of the magical realism aspects. I also felt like the message was a little garbled and unclear. It was a little bit of a letdown after the time investment, although I did appreciate it for its craft and structure.

Recommended to readers interested in a magical realism commentary on the writing process.

This is a very meta book that clearly took a lot of effort and thought to write. A big theme is writers with anxiety about writing (like writer's block) and the ethics of writing (how much is too much to take from those around you.)

It was a little slow-paced for me, and I'm not sure how I feel about the overall final story (once you get through all the meta ones.) Also some of the American characters speak like British ones sometimes.

Check out my full review.

*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*

The first book I finished reading in the new apartment was Looking Glass Sound. When I think back on books I’ve read, I get transported to the moment of my life when I was reading that book. So books get inextricably tied to moments in my life. Looking Glass Sound was a meta mystery commentary on writing that would be most enjoyed by other writers I imagine. Thank you to the publisher for the free copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
#bookalicious #rocklights #booksinthewild #avidreader #bookaesthetic #whatimreading

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