“DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK. Authentically terrifying.” —Stephen King
A LibraryReads Top 10 Pick!
STARRED review from Publishers Weekly!
Anticipated and Recommended by Bustle, USA Today, CNN, i09, The Nerd Daily, LitReactor, GoodReads, LitHub, and more!
Sundial is a new, twisty psychological horror novel from Catriona Ward, internationally bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street.
You can't escape what's in your blood...
All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.
She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.
Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…
The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.
"A story where nothing is what it seems—a thrilling hall of mirrors full of deeply disturbing twists. This book will haunt you." —Alex Michaelides, #1 New York Times bestselling author
- National print and online publicity campaign
- Virtual events and convention appearances
- National advertising campaign including Goodreads, Book Riot, Fangoria, Bloody Disgusting, and The Mary Sue
- Prepublication buzz campaign including trade and consumer advertising
- Major early reader trade and consumer review campaign including advertising, major ARC mailings, giveaways via NetGalley, Shelf Awareness Pro, and Goodreads
- Digital preview
- Extensive NetGalley outreach
- Author videos
- #SUNDIAL digital marketing campaign, including author guest posts, social media promotions, targeted eblasts, and sweepstakes
- Cross promotion with Macmillan Audio
- Tor.com promotions including excerpts and review
- Library marketing campaign
- Newsletter marketing campaign
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 491 members
The Last House on Needless Street was creepy and atmospheric. It's one of the few books I've read in recent times that has stuck with me long after turning the last page.
Then, Sundial was announced. That blurb sounded amazing, right? Could Catriona Ward do it again? Could she live up to the hype of The Last House on Needless Street? That's some big book shoes to fill.
Well, people. Gather round. Let. Me. Tell. You.
Yes!! Sundial is also engrossing and creepy and so damn amazing. I loved Callie and Rob and their complex mother and daughter relationship. There are secrets and history and the past leads firmly to the circumstances of the present and everything ties together with a grim kind of book magic.
After The Last House on Needless Street, and now Sundial, I feel like I have a front row seat for the birth of literary greatness. Catriona Ward is a name you will be hearing a lot more of, I'm sure of it. And rightfully so. Her books cut right to the core of what it means to be human, and how humans are the worst of monsters of all.
I'm rushing off now to order her first two books, Rawblood (also called The Girl from Rawblood) and Little Eve.
I'll also be busy marking off my calendar until 2023, when her next great novel, Looking Glass Sound will be released.
I already know I'm going to love it.
In the meantime though, if you haven't read The Last House on Needless Street, go and buy it! It's out now. Then, add Sundial to your TBR, you won't regret it.
I read The Last House on Needless Street, Catriona Ward’s last novel, just a little while back, and was suitably gobsmacked. It’s equal parts, audacious, heartbreaking, and creepy, a tour de force that finds Ward juggling five or six different narrators (one of whom is a cat…seriously), each more unreliable than the last. It’s a thrilling, flawless high wire act.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but holy fuck, Sundial is even better. Ward burrows her way beneath your skin, sets her barbed hooks deep, then spends 272 pages dragging those hooks out of your flesh slowly but inexorably. Sundial is part psychological horror, part desert-set gothic, and part extremely dysfunctional family drama, with a little Island of Dr. Moreau thrown in for good measure.
Rob has a curdled marriage to a sometimes abusive husband, and two daughters. The oldest, Callie, has a darkness inside her that’s beginning to manifest in horrifying ways. Ways that remind Rob all too well of secrets buried in her own troubled past.
And…that’s all you’re getting. Much like she did with Last House on Needless Street, Ward has concealed twists and shocks throughout Sundial. They explode like land mines, psychic shrapnel, constantly reshaping the novel, never letting you catch your breath. To give away any more than I have would be criminal.
Sundial release March 1st, 2022, but is available for pre-order now. This is a must-read. In fact, anything Ward writes from now on will be a must-read for me.
Puppies, Pink Star Lamps, and Nightmares
Sundial is a new, twisty psychological horror novel from Catriona Ward, author of The Last House on Needless Street. This one is even darker than that and it keeps you guessing until the end. Catriona Ward has mastered the concept that horror can come from all species,in all shapes, sizes, and ages.
There are many triggers in this novel, so I don't recommend it for the sensitive. This is no mindless slasher novel, though, it's an intricately designed knot. As each convolution was untangled, the suspense grew so intense that I didn't realize I was holding my breath and had to remind myself to breathe.
Though the elements in the plot are not entirely unique, some are even plucked from headlines, I've never read a book that brought them together in this way before. The author slowly, painstakingly added layer upon layer to her characters until Rob, Jack, Callie, and Annie became real to me. As chilling as the revelations were, I cared very much about their outcomes.
I was honored to be given a free advanced review copy of Sundial courtesy of the author, publisher, and NetGalley. It's my privilege to share my enthusiasm for this excellent, hair-raising book.
Enjoy The Last House on Needless Street? You haven’t seen anything yet. Ward has given us another dark, psychologically horrifying novel, chock full of twists and turns. I was disoriented, upset, horrified, triggered, surprised, shocked, intrigued and just could not stop once I started reading. Add this to your 2022 TBR list.
TW: Domestic abuse, cheating, toxic relationships between parent and child, miscarriages, abuse, drug addiction, sibling drama, animal abuse, etc etc...
About the book: All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. Far from her childhood home, Sundial, hidden deep in the wild Mojave Desert.
But beneath the veneer, Rob is terrified for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.
Running from her past has led her directly back to it -- what’s buried at Sundial could never stay a secret forever, and Rob must risk one last trip out there to protect her family, and her future.
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Genre: Domestic Thriller
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
What I Liked:
• The writing style flows so seamless
• The characters are so outlandish you can't look away
• The book cover is just pleasing to the eye
• So hard to put down
What I Didn't Like:
• Sometimes it becomes a lot when you have a story in a story in a story
Overall Thoughts: "It's possible to feel horror of something and to accept it all at the same time. How else could we cope with being alive?"
I struggled to finish this book because I did not want it to end...like EVER! Every-time I picked it up I was transformed into this world of Rob and the dysfunctional world she lived in. At times I wanted to hug her then shake her. I never knew what was real or what was just Rob's thoughts. Just when you think you know the villains in this book things change up and suddenly you're doubting yourself.
The final ending was mind bending. Was Rob really Rob or was Rob really Jack? The ending with the contacts. Callie really being the good dog and not the bad dog. Just wow.
Final Thoughts: This book is magic. I'm convinced that Catriona Ward is a witch because she keeps enchanting me into having to read every book she writes & loving it.
True Horror! Are you tired of "Psychological Thrillers"?! I am! Catriona Ward has it on lock. This book is for real scary.
Every second used to read this review is a second that you aren't using to read Catriona Ward's latest, Sundial. This is a problem, because she can freakin' WRITE, and I can't.
For those that have read The Last House on Needless Street, I can say this: SHE HAS DONE IT AGAIN. All of those things that made that book magnificent are here again. This is all you need to know.
I was blown away by The Last House on Needless Street, so I was pretty sure I'd love Sundial. I had no idea what I was in for though! This gives "psychological thriller" a whole new, intense meaning.
Right from the start, we realize that something isn't quite right with Rob. She's rightfully concerned about her two daughters, Callie and Annie, but we soon find out that her past is extremely disturbing, and nothing is as it seems. This book is horrifying and dark - and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. As we learn more about Rob's childhood when she returns to Sundial, her childhood home, with Callie, it becomes clear that there really aren't any "good guys" here - we've got horrible parents, an abusive spouse, manipulative siblings and it just gets worse from there.
What you need to know about Sundial is that you will think you have everything figured out right before Ward flips everything upside down and you realize you know nothing. That is the best kind of thriller and Ward is an expert at it!
You also need to know that there are gruesome scenes of animal abuse, animal death, physical, emotional and verbal abuse of adults and children, infidelity and drug abuse. I loved it and could not put it down, but it is extremely disturbing on many levels.
Holy crap, this was disturbing!
Fair warning to those who like their horrors on the light side, this one isn’t for you. Every little thing that happens in this book is wrong. Every character is wrong. Every situation is wrong. And just when you think the author’s given us the most wrongness she can give, hey, there’s more!
The author handles this well and with a deft touch. While it’s evident from page one that things are skewed with our little family, each chapter adds more and more ugliness to their situation – all described in deceptively beautiful narrative or, in the case of children, childish phrases that belie how terribly horrific the truth really is.
I loved the book, but warn that it may not be for everyone.
*ARC via Publisher
Thank you to Tor Nightfire and Netgalley for the chance to read this arc!
Having read Ward's other work I knew that I enjoyed it but Needless Street was just not for me. Sundial was a chance to try out her work again and WOW it didn't disappoint.
Rob seems to have her life together - a home, a family, a husband - but behind closed doors her husband is abusive and her eldest daughter is showing troubling signs like collecting bones. To protect Callie from her husband she decides to bring her back to her childhood home Sundial.
This book was full of twists and honestly just delivered so well on the promise of psychological horror. It was such a delight to piece together any of the twists before they came but still managed to be surprised by pieces I didn't see coming.
And you thought YOUR family was dysfunctional!
It’s official. I am a compete Catriona Ward stan. After being bowled over by the incredible The Last House On Needless Street, I could not wait to get my hands on her next book. I am happy and excited to say that Ward’s sophomore effort did NOT disappoint. Glittering, dark, shocking, horrifying prose - Ward is an heiress to Stephen King’s throne. (It was King’s recommendation that got me to read Needless Street, and I couldn’t be happier to have found this wonderful author.)
Ward’s writing is hypnotic and totally immersive. You forget where you are reading her work, and just become a part of her mesmerizing and horrifying world. It sucks you in and holds you there when it’s beautiful and also when it’s completely uncomfortable and horrifying.
This book will not be for everyone but oh man, was it ever for me. The book is about a pair of female twins named Rob and Jack. The disturbing nature of their lives, particularly their upbringings by a weird pair of parents on a cult-like compound called Sundial, creeps into the story bit by bit until you are totally immersed in the crazy. I was immediately and totally fascinated with the narrating twin Rob, her husband Irving, and her two daughters from the start. Rob worries that one of her daughters may be a psychopath in the making. This sounds like a simple plot that you’ve read before, but I promise you, it is not. The book then delves into an incredible and horrifying story of nature vs. nurture, the significance of the so-called psychopath or “warrior” gene, bizarre psychological experiments, horrible parenting, weird twin relationships….and that’s not even the half of it. This author knows how to do multiple narrators: slightly different from Needless Street, this book has way fewer narrators but man does it pick the right ones.
I really cannot stress enough how haunting, beautiful and unique Ward’s writing is. This author has an incredible dark gift. Her style is so individual and this story is so creepy that I think you will either love it or be repulsed by it. I definitely loved it (and as evidenced by Needless Street, many others do too).
I had a great time savoring, being stressed out by, and reveling in this super creepy book. The ending was sufficiently insane and perfect, with a totally unforeseen yet perfect twist. This is the kind of great horror book that really goes deep on the nature of evil - what makes a horrifying person that way? Can anything be done about it? Is it always completely evident who the true psycho is?
Yep, so, I loved this book. An easy five-plus stars from me. I sure hope Ward writes fast because I am ready for another book from her, like, right now. Creepy, spooky, gross, but also beautiful, in that way only a few horror authors can really do. Get ready to watch Catriona Ward because she’s just getting started, but already one of the greats.
Thanks to Macmillan Tor Forge, NetGalley, and the author for this totally immersive, awesome, and creepy reading experience. I plan to read it again soon.
A fantastic and twisted tale by Catriona Ward.
I read this book in a single day because I just couldn't put it down.
Readers will think they know what is going to happen, but will be WRONG.
This story contains family, cults, physical and psychological abuse, violence and implied threats of violence. Obviously this is a horror story and as such should be avoided by those who are sensitive to the above topics.
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. It is a startlingly original take on the age old question of whether nature or nurture are more important in the formation of a child's mind.
I will be recommending this book to the readers and followers of my blog and social media accounts.
I rate SUNDIAL as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I have no idea what goes on inside author, Catriona Ward's head. In theory these storylines shouldn't work - first there was The Last House on Needless Street where one of the narrators was a cat, and now we have Sundial, a literary horror set in the Mojave Desert with a story based around scientific experiments on stray dogs - but somehow everything that comes out is pure genius!
Sundial is a story about Rob, her husband Irving, and their two children Callie and Annie. Callie has always been difficult but when her behavior really starts to concern Rob, she decides to take her back to 'Sundial' (the compound where she grew up) in an attempt to put an end to it once and for all. True to form, there are plenty of twists, and if you think you know where the story is going, you are most certainly wrong!
This is a story about family, trauma, genetics, psychological abuse, and is a reminder that sometimes the worst type of horrors come from the things closest to home. There's no doubt that Sundial will be another smash hit when it is released next year.
Catriona Ward's book "The Last House of Needless Street" left an irrevocable impact for me and immediately set an unparalleled standard for the horror genre. In some ways, "Sundial" was reminiscent of Ward's first novel: poignant, magnetic writing strewn with complex, deeply-intriguing characters in which a darkness simmers just below their surface. And yet, "Sundial" is a literary horror masterpiece all its own. Set in the Mojave Desert, it is atmospheric, chilling, and profound. Everything that Ward weaves into her pages is intentional and ingenious; slow fuses lit at the start of the novel that culminate explosively in the most unthinkable ways. This book is about roots, family, and identity, and will settle deep in your bones and stay with you long after you've finished it. Ward demonstrates yet again that she remains in a league all her own when it comes to horror; this story captivated me and terrified me all at once. An absolute must-read for 2022.
*Thank you to Tor-Nightfire and Netgalley for my ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.*
Catriona Ward is now two for two! I fell in love with Catriona Ward's writing when I read her 2021 release, The Last House on Needless Street, so I knew that I needed to read her 2022 release, Sundial . Catriona, please keep the books coming because I think I found my new favorite horror author. Sundial will be very polarizing for readers, because it doesn't give the same vibe as her last book did, which goes to show you how finessed Ward's craft of storytelling is.
Sundial focuses on mother and wife Rob, her husband Irving, and their two children Callie and Annie. After witnessing some pretty gruesome and dangerous behavior by their daughter Callie, Rob decides to take Callie back to her childhood home—"Sundial", a compound in the Mojave Desert. Rob hopes that their time together in Sundial will help Callie reflect on her behavior, but Rob has a philandering and psychologically corrupt husband at home as well to worry about. Callie's behavior is just the tip of the iceberg for this extremely unstable family.
I don't want to give away too much, because as you expect, Sundial is best read when you know as little as possible. The story is way more straightforward than The Last House on Needless Street, so no need to worry about trying to catch the massive plot twist. However, this story is just as dark and captivating as its predecessor. I truly loved reading this book so much that I've began diving into Catriona's previous works. If you are unsure about reading horror, Catriona Ward expertly handles horror with care and interweaves it into other genres as well. This time, we get an extremely solid (yet chaotic and unstable) family drama, infused with horror and suspense. I read this book in two sittings and cannot wait to see what else this author has up her sleeve. Prioritize this one for 2022, readers!
Long ago something happened in the desert, at Sundial, that has remained with Rob through the rest of her adult life. Now in the present, stuck in a cruel and miserable marriage, something odd has started happening with her daughters, and Sundial might be the only place to hold answers. Caught between old traumas of the past and the love of a mom for her daughters, Rob must retrace memories back to Sundial, her childhood home, and face truths that have rested untouched in the desert for far too long.
What I Loved:
- Catriona Ward has become one of my absolute favorite horror authors. She writes psychological horror unlike anyone else, and I love how she always leads the reader up to a moment when, all of a sudden, the twisted up storylines start unraveling and the bigger picture starts to come into full focus. When that left foot drops (in the best way), I just can’t ever stop reading, and this book didn’t leave me disappointed in that way.
- Of the stories I’ve read by Ward, she always incorporates multiple perspectives. Sometimes these are from the past and into the present, sometimes they’re from the point of view of animals, and sometimes they’re in a different format, like chapters in a book. Sundial also incorporates multiple perspectives, and it really helps to continue moving the plot forward and keeping the reader guessing what’s next, who’s telling the truth, and asking “What’s REALLY happening?”
What I Didn’t Love:
- The only aspect I had a little bit of a harder time with involved some scenes of animal death and just some general sort of tough situations involving animals. That said, it was all so purposeful and intentional in regard to the storyline, and there were some sweet moments as well.
Overall, I feel like this is a “Catriona Ward has done it again” moment. When I initially read the description of the book to decide if I wanted to request it to read or not, I hesitated. It didn’t sound quite as pulse-racing as The Last House on Needless Street or as eerie and cultish as Little Eve; it felt like it’d be an entirely different story altogether. And it was, but it was just as good. Her stories all stand so unique from one another but all have a similar thread: you’re guaranteed to not know anything from the start, and you’re guaranteed some reveals toward the back half of the book that will have your mind constantly turning to put pieces together and to get to the truth of the story and what happened. If you enjoyed any of her most recent books, love psychological horror novels, enjoy multiple perspectives, and love a good reveal, definitely read this one next!!
Child neglect and abuse, domestic abuse, animal experimentation, animal death, miscarriage/loss of pregnancy
I have been reading horror since I was allowed to choose my own books and no book has delightfully traumatized nearly as much as Sundial has. The characters’ willingness to do ANYTHING (and I mean anything) for their sisters and children broke me wide opening. Ward has the fascinating ability to show us both how entirely broken a person can be and their ability to transform that pain and suffering to enormous, gruesome strength. I will read EVERYTHING Catrina Ward has to offer after this and will recommend this book to anyone who will listen. (TW abuse).
Wow. This really shook me! In the best way. I finished reading this a week ago and still am having a difficult time pulling my thoughts together for a review!
First, I am going to avoid going into any detail of the synopsis. I think that the less you know, going in, is better!
Catriona Ward’s beautifully brutal writing managed to literally transport my brain out of my head and into the world she has created in ‘Sundial’. I still don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, considering how nightmarish and creepy this book is! I was just completely immersed and intrigued by what in the h*ll what going on here!? I was confused, shocked, horrified, interested, etc.! You name it, I probably felt it while reading this!
People often refer to the images that form in your brain while you read as ‘brain movies’. Well, prepare for one of the most memorable, unique, uncomfortable yet amazing brain movies ever! Thanks, again, to the flawless and vivid writing, you will not fall short on visuals to accompany you as consume this novel (probably in one sitting).
I am psychological thriller/horror fan through and though and Catriona Ward has got my attention 100%! Her striking and descriptive writing, character development, and her way of exploring human nature via disturbing dark fiction have made me a fan for life!
Thanks to Macmillan Tor Forge, NetGalley and the author for this excellent arc.
I'm quickly realizing that I am never going to know what Catriona Ward is going to serve up to her readers. It didn't really work for me with Last House on Needless Street, but Sundial was unsettling and unexpected, twisty and thrilling, in all the best ways. I'm not going to say anything about the plot because, quite frankly, I don't know what I could say to sum it up. It just has to be experienced.
Do I have books to read that publish before Sundial? Why yes, I do. I tried so hard to put this one on my February to be read list, but no matter what I did, it kept calling my name. What do I have to say about my behavior? I am glad, glad I tell you that I started this on the last day of 2021 and finished it on the first day of 2022 because it was amazing.
Rob is married to Irving, and right from their first interaction, I felt like she must have reiterated at least one of her wedding vows, till death do us part, at least a million times. He is a serial cheater and an odious man, and how Rob wound up with him and why she continues to stay with him was a real puzzle. It isn't until the behavior of her older daughter, Callie, starts to alarm her, that she makes a quick and potentially life-altering decision. She leaves her younger daughter Annie with Irving and heads to Sundial, her childhood home. She needs to connect with Callie if she has any hope of saving her, and that means exposing her past.
There is a lot and I mean an awful lot going on in the present and the past. Unlike Needless Street, this book doesn't have one specific what moment, but rather every chapter exposes more and more secrets. It builds dark layer upon even darker layer until I wasn't sure who were the monsters and who were the heroes of this tale. Disturbing at every imaginable level, I forgot to breathe more than once and especially when the author dropped her final bombshell revelation.
I am not going to say any more for fear of spoilers. Just let the words take you to Sundial and see who you are if you find your way out. I will gladly devour anything Catriona Ward writes.
Did you read the Last House on Needless Street? If so, then you are prepared! If not, brace yourself, this is horror and psychological twists like you have never experienced!
Rob lives with her husband and 2 children in suburbia. She hints of a dark past life in a cult-like existence and seems to tread carefully around her husband. When Callie, her oldest daughter shows a predilection for collecting animal bones she decides its time for a pilgrimage to Sundial,
her childhood home in the Mojave Desert.
At Sundial Rob flashes back to her life with her twin sister Jack and the many dark and twisted events that they experienced. Has Rob inherited the evil traits of the Sundial inhabitants? Has Callie? Can anyone from Sundial be redeemed?
This gothic thriller is horrific in a good way. I challenge you to read it in one or two sittings - I couldn't I needed to take many breaks (sad face). Callie has a voice in the story and just like Needless Street, she's not what you thought (confused face).
If you liked Needless Street, or books by Steven King, Paul Tremblay then this is the most thrilling novel of 2022. You won't forget a character or an event in this twisty dark adventure (happy face and heart!) #NetGalley #Sundial #CatrionaWard #Besthorror #MacMillanTor #tornightfire
Thank you to Macmillan/Tor-Forge for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
When I heard that the author had another book coming out, I knew I had to add it to my TBR right away! Sundial by Catriona Ward is a psychological horror novel that will chill you to the bone. The story opens up from Rob's point of view. Rob is an everyday housewife with a husband and two daughters in the suburbs. But from the very beginning, you can tell something is off with this family. Why can't Rob emphathize her daughter Callie? Why are Rob and her husband Irving always fighting? What secrets are they hiding?
Here is a gripping excerpt from Chapter 1 that illustrates an argument between Rob, her husband Irving, and Callie::
"He lowers his gaze and strokes Callie’s shoulder, murmuring about pancakes. Her screaming stops. It gives way to little giggles. She and Irving stare at me. The same little smile plays about both their mouths. They have the same lips. And it sets me off, even though I know it shouldn’t.
“That’s it!” I shout. “You go and clean your room. Change your sheets. Maybe that will get rid of the weird smell in there.”
Callie covers her mouth and giggles into her palm. Irving gets up and starts doing dishes, like it’s nothing to do with him. I stare at the back of his head, the red place where the barber went too close, and I wish I could throw something, like he does. But I’ve got no power here."
Overall, Sundial is an extremely disturbing psychological horror novel that will keep you up at night. It will appeal to fans of the twist-filled novels of Gillian Flynn and Josh Malerman. One highlight of this book is how scary this book is. It starts from the very beginning, when minor arguments foreshadow domestic violence and abuse. I made the mistake of reading this book too close to nighttime, and I couldn't sleep afterward. This book is definitely not one for the faint-hearted!
Another highlight is the creepy and twisty plotline. There were definitely some twists that I was not expecting. I have to admit that I was pretty confused when I first started reading this book, because the author introduced a lot of characters in the sections in the past, but everything was eventually explained and made sense in a satisfying way. If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of horror novels, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in March!
This is an incredibly unsettling yet unputdownable book. It is the first book I’ve read by Catriona Ward but not the last. It is both psychological and horror. The writing kept me entranced and completely captivated.
5 stars for sure!
Catriona Ward has done it again and taken it to whole new level! Sundial is a disturbing and engrossing tale of a mother desperate to protect her children. Unreliable narrators run amok and family relationships are taken to a whole new level of WTF. This is a twisting and turning psychological horror that is even darker than The Last House on Needless Street. Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. Multiple TW's for abuse, toxic relationships, drug abuse, animal abuse, etc. Rob, a wife and mother, senses a darkness in her daughter Callie. Rob thinks the only way to help her daughter is take to her back to her childhood home of Sundial and let her in on her mysterious childhood. That's all I'm giving you! Ward has an amazing way of taking you down a path you think you know and then taking a turn you never saw coming. I read this book in a day because I just could not stop. This book may not be for everyone ( history of abuse should steer clear of this one) 5 stars to my new favorite author. I can't wait for a physical copy and a reread. Thanks NetGalley, this was incredible.
Also reviewed on www.curiosityboughtthebook.com
It's rare that I'm sucked into a story from the first page. But Sundial is exactly that kind of story. There is so much mystery, despair, and drama that I couldn't stop myself from devouring it. A mix of thriller and horror; it's the perfect story for me. Catriona Ward's writing almost has a V.C. Andrews-feel to me, and I love her work for that. It's Gothic and eerie; the perfect mix.
Ward writes deeply flawed characters in Sundial, just like she did in her previous book The Last House on Needless Street, which was also a five star book for me. This is definitely an auto-read author for me from now on.
It’s a story about a loveless (and hateful) marriage, twin sisters that grew apart in anger and resentment and the strange way they were brought up. All of this is told in two different timelines, and two POVs.
Little extra note: once I found out the remote control experiments really happened, it got even more unsettling.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy!
Rarely do I give 5 stars for a psychological horror book, but Sundial definitely delivered.
Sundial centers around dysfunctional family- Rob, Irving, and their children Callie and Annie. When Callie starts showing signs of “darkness”, Rob brings her daughter to her childhood home Sundial-a strange compound that’s located deep In the Mojave Desert. We later learn of Rob’s strange upbringing as the book switches between past and present and multiple POVs.
It’s honestly best to go onto Sundial somewhat “blind”. I enjoyed the book immensely and I was “sucked in” the further I read. Sundial had twists and turns throughout and I loved the ending- definitely unexpected. Highly recommend to fans of horror, fiction and psychological thrillers. A must read! Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warning in this book for abuse, including animal abuse and spousal abuse.
My initial notes for this ARC consisted of:
-Great tension in first chapters
-Enthralling, can’t stop reading
And I still stand by those. The tension is initially shown to be between Rob and her oldest daughter who, we later learn, has some very dark tendencies. But the longer we read (and I read quite a lot in my first sitting), the more we realize the tension also comes from other people in Rob’s life. It is this thick tension that makes the first several chapters so enthralling; I literally could not convince myself to stop reading until I learned just a little more, and really, this author is a master at leaving you tiny crumbs that keep you coming back.
Ward also does a fantastic job of weaving narrations together, both between mother and daughter and between past and present. These shifts also keep you wondering which character is telling you the whole truth, or if there is even a whole truth to be learned through all the misdirection.
There are some bits of plot I wish had been better fleshed out, as well as some little bits and pieces left unanswered by the end that I’m still wondering about. However - this was a great, thrilling read, and Catriona Ward is an author I will return to for every book she writes.
Catriona Ward knows how to incorporate mental illnesses into her stories very well, but this time she didn’t stop there: she added bit of science into it. This story…. It was something! At the beginning, I wasn’t sure what to make of any of the characters. It took me a while to form my opinion of Rob, Irving, Callie, and Annie. But at the end, I realized how wrong I was.
Rob started to see some patterns in her child’s behavior that she wished that she would never ever see. With her husband cheating on her and another child dealing with chicken pox, she had to choose her battles. She chose to figure out a way to fix her daughter who might be going little wild. One might ask why she didn’t take her daughter to a psychiatrist, but she had her reasons looking back at her own past. She thought the solution she was looking for was at her childhood home. So away we go!
With triggers hitting her left and right, Rob started to remember things from her past defining who she is and who she could be. These were much different than what she always believed. While her goal of fixing her daughter stayed as her North Star, she decided to choose different means to solve this problem. But what she didn’t know was she might have been wrong all along.
Rob fears there is something seriously wrong with her oldest daughter, Callie, when she finds a collection of small bones in her bedroom. Add to this the fact that she whispers to "imaginary friends," and Rob knows she needs to act quickly. She opts to bring Callie back to her childhood home, known as Sundial, in the Mojave Desert. It's there that Rob's old, dark memories are stirred up.
Callie is also concerned about her mother. There's something off about the way she looks at her, and she's afraid only one of them will leave Sundial alive.
It's definitely worth noting that I didn't *love* The Last House on Needless Street, but I was really impressed by Catriona Ward's writing style and I knew I wouldn't hesitate to read another one of her books in the future. Enter: Sundial. First, can we talk about how gorgeously creepy that cover is? I immediately knew I needed to get my hands on this one.
I was SO INTO this storyline. The pacing of the plot was perfect, and I could not stop flipping pages. This is told in alternating viewpoints: Rob in present day, Rob in the past, and Callie in present day. I 100% did not see the end coming and I was completely and totally satisfied by it, as well as sufficiently creeped out.
Horror and thriller lovers are definitely going to want to get their hands on Sundial, out on bookshelves in the US March 1, 2022!
Catriona Ward has done it again!
When you start reading a book by this author, be prepared for surprises. She's phenomenal at luring your thoughts one way and then changing the whole game. Ward makes you feel things, and you're left with a desire for introspection. Be right back while I go contemplate all the choices I think I'd make..
Rob is a mother of two with a not-so-stellar home life. When things start to worsen, Rob takes her oldest daughter, Callie, back to the desert where it all started to get to the heart of the problem.. Can she save her family?
For fun, here are some thoughts and questions I had written down during my read (which I did in one day because I couldn't stop myself):
Did Rob kill Jack?
What happened to the parents?
Where did Callie come from? Is Pale Callie the dead baby? Or is she dead Jack?
Oh no, she's gonna give her the controlling drugs.
Oh.. the girls came from the puppy people.
They got drugged?! Along with other dude.. so that was his story.
Ugh Irving! He deserved what he got.
What about Annie? What about the contacts? (After the fight with Irving)
It was Annie?!?!
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Now go read The Last House on Needless Street
Shelves: 2021-read , 2022-pub , dark , family-drama , horror , slow-burn , psychological-thriller
Catriona Ward is now two for two! I fell in love with Catriona Ward's writing when I read her 2021 release, The Last House on Needless Street, so I knew that I needed to read her 2022 release, Sundial . Catriona, please keep the books coming because I think I found my new favorite horror author. Sundial will be very polarizing for readers, because it doesn't give the same vibe as her last book did, which goes to show you how finessed Ward's craft of storytelling is.
Sundial focuses on mother and wife Rob, her husband Irving, and their two children Callie and Annie. After witnessing some pretty gruesome and dangerous behavior by their daughter Callie, Rob decides to take Callie back to her childhood home—"Sundial", a compound in the Mojave Desert. Rob hopes that their time together in Sundial will help Callie reflect on her behavior, but Rob has a philandering and psychologically corrupt husband at home as well to worry about. Callie's behavior is just the tip of the iceberg for this extremely unstable family.
I don't want to give away too much, because as you expect, Sundial is best read when you know as little as possible. The story is way more straightforward than The Last House on Needless Street, so no need to worry about trying to catch the massive plot twist. However, this story is just as dark and captivating as its predecessor. I truly loved reading this book so much that I've began diving into Catriona's previous works. If you are unsure about reading horror, Catriona Ward expertly handles horror with care and interweaves it into other genres as well. This time, we get an extremely solid (yet chaotic and unstable) family drama, infused with horror and suspense. I read this book in two sittings and cannot wait to see what else this author has up her sleeve. Prioritize this one for 2022, readers
Sadistic. Twisted. Inhumane. Those are some of the words I would use to describe this. You know those stories you read that just stick with you awhile? This was one of those. This book kept me guessing, and out of all the characters in the whole book, Irving was the most sadistic. The gruesome images of the puppy mill and animal experiments were hard to stomach, but I could definitely watch the image play out of the book in my head, which really adds to the horror of it all. Rob and Callie were sympathetic characters, despite some of the horrible things they may have done. The ending I did not see coming, and I love these type of ominous endings in horror fiction. I really look forward to reading Catriona's other book now.
WOW WOW WOW!!!! Truly cannot say enough great things about this book, with the only downside being that I had to stop reading it right before bed because it was so creepy! There's something about Ward's ability to use beautiful prose to explore the darkest depths of humanity--with the contrast resulting in a horrifically disturbing but undeniably brilliant story. I couldn't catch my breath and couldn't look away until the very last twist--which I had not seen coming (I can't remember the last time I was surprised by an ending, and Ward knocks it out of the park). For anyone who likes dark and atmospheric books that are also fascinating glimpses into psychology and psychopathy, this is a must read!!
Catriona Ward is the mistress of the twist. Once I thought I figured something out, it turned out that my reading path zigged when I thought it zagged. Few of the characters are who they seem to be, except for one who starts out awful and stays that way. Who to root for? Who to condemn? There's enough twists to keep the reader guessing through the book.
Be aware that there is physical and psychological (but not sexual) abuse of children, a spouse, and animals. It's almost overwhelming for me to read, but Ms. Ward is just so very good with words. An excellent writer.
All Rob wanted was a normal life. A family of her own far away from the compound she grew up on. But things at home are anything but normal.
Her husband is cruel and unfaithful, belittling her if she dares to call him out on his affairs. Brandishing her past as a tether. A history she cannot escape.
But more disturbing is the behavior of her eldest daughter Callie. A solitary child. A collector of dead things. While unsettling on its own, her macabre obsession seems to be taking a more extreme turn. Speaking to shadows. Punishing her little sister Annie in progressively more dangerous ways.
A missing bottle of pills. The blue lips of an overdose.
Rob knows there’s only one place where she can help Callie out. Sundial. Her family home. A place to reveal to Callie the secret in her families blood.
Told through dual timelines, the mystery of what happened in Rob’s past starts to reveal itself. Packed with twists that only Catriona Ward is capable of bending. I’m in awe with how she fools me.
Supernatural elements, medical experiments, family traumas, gaslighting, aggressive dogs. There are loads of themes stuffed into these pages, but it’s brisk and propulsive, and while I don’t feel it was as seamless as Needless Street it’s a hell of a follow up effort. Seriously, Ward has become an auto-but author for me.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 rounded up
Catriona Ward is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Sundial grips you immediately and does not let go. I was entranced by the story telling and character building. You find yourself in the story with these characters and finding your reasons to understand all of them while simultaneously being scared of what they will do next. The setting of this story is unsettling enough, just you wait until the truth comes out.
It is very rare for me to read a book in January and know, without a doubt, it will be in the top ten books I read this year. But here we are.
Much like this author’s book from last year, The Last House on Needless Street, this book is best gone into as blind as possible. The only things I knew about this going in were that I liked the cover, I enjoyed this author’s book that came out last year, and I got an ARC of it so I was just going to check it out and see if it was anything like Needless Street.
And the answer is yes and no. This book also starts at a slow, confusing pace but it doesn’t have as much weird stuff going on in it. Not to say it isn’t really weird itself. It’s just very different in style. Something about this book just really clicked for me. This is a book with many twists and reveals but they are all earned. I know several twists were foreshadowed 100 pages or more before the twist happened and I feel like upon reread, it would probably be all of them.
Ward is a master of her craft and is able to construct these stories were you just read along for the ride and halfway through realize how hooked you are. With just the two books I have read of hers, she has cemented herself as a favorite author to me.
If you are someone who needs to know just a tiny bit about a book before picking it up, this story is about a wife with two children who lives in a pretty suburban area. But when one of her children starts exhibiting strange and scary behavior, the mother decides to take a trip with her misbehaving child to Sundial, her childhood home. Maybe there, she can get to the root of what is causing this behavior.
If you like weird. If you like unsettling. If you like a deep dive into what makes people the way they are, read this book.
This is an insane book, full of absolutely creeping horror and evocative images. You don't want me to tell you everything that happens, trust me.
It starts out as a look at a dysfunctional marriage, but guys, you aint seen nothing yet if you think that's the whole situation. Little sprinkles of information slowly lead up to an incredible reveal that is both horrifying and sad. Complex characters, weird science, and a small amount of justice in the end make for a great horror tale. Im very into it.
I loved the indie movie style ending if you know what I mean by that, although I wouldn't skip a sequel if she were to write one.
It's a horror novel. If you can't handle horror, then don't read horror.
I received this as an ARC from netgalley in exchange for honest review.
ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
Wow! This book blew me away! I really enjoyed how the perspectives went from the present to the past, from different characters points of view, and had a little piece of a fictional story woven in. The narrators are all unreliable to a certain extent but I like uncovering secrets along the way, and this book definitely had that! The only minor issue I noticed was that the characters are from and living in Ojai, California but much of the dialogue and spelling is written like they’re in the UK. For example, words like rucksack, colour, cheque, and the child in school being in “third year” when here in California, we go by grade levels. Otherwise I very much enjoyed this book and will definitely recommend to friends and family!
Thanks to the author and publisher for an advance reading copy of Sundial for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.
A twisty, horrifying story that sheds its layers with pinpoint precision. This proves, once again, that Ward is one of the premiere voices in horror fiction right now. If she isn’t already a household name like Shirley Jackson or Stephen King, she needs to be.
Ward might be the ONLY author in the last few years who can wholly and completely pull the rug out from under me. With The Last House on Needless Street, and now Sundial, she is now 2 for 2 in blindside hits. Just when you think you have her all figured out… She just has this penchant for leaving you mouth agape by the time you turn the last page. It is absolutely mesmerizing.
Where the author excels, in my opinion, is with her characters. Yes, the reveal is clearly her specialty, but her characters are what makes that reveal SO FREAKING GOOD. In just a few short sentences, she can have you completely enamored, emotionally invested, and the biggest cheerleader for the protagonist, while also have you wholly loathing the antagonist – or who is perceived to be such. Her use of language is mind-bogglingly good and really puts her to the forefront as one of my favorite writers today.
Like a majority of novels that like to build up suspense until the very end, Sundial does tend to have its moments of pacing miscues as pieces of the puzzle are put into place. While this type of thing doesn’t necessarily detract from the enjoyment of the story, I know it can be a turn off to certain types of readers. Trust me, the payoff is worth is it. If those pieces were missing, the ending wouldn’t make sense.
While I’d love to do a deep dive into the story itself, any little misstep could lead to a massive spoiler. Just go into the story fresh; I suggest not even reading the synopsis – especially if you are already a fan of Ward’s. This generally helps suppress the want and need to figure everything out before the end, especially knowing I’ll be 100% wrong.
A friend handed me Last House on Needless Street last year and it was unexpectedly, amazingly good. The story was solid, gripping, with so many twists and with crazy, flawed, lovable characters to boot.
And here comes Sundial, and I have unreasonably high expectations and Ward just sails over them all.
I enjoyed every moment with this horrific, terrifying, twisting story. Beautiful foreshadowing, as always. Scarred, complex, loveable, relatable characters, again. This story is about bonds between mothers and daughters, sisters, family. The background is full of wild animals, a harsh desert, and hurt people. It's about trying, whether or not you succeed.
And now, I think, I need to find a way to let go of the tension of it all. Funny, to read what you know will be the best book of the year in January. Five stars.
Dear horror/ psychological thriller lovers! Just put down the books you plan to read it and urgently start reading this one ! This is the biggest winner of the year!
Last year I was addicted to Last House on Needless Street! I was so close to climb up the roof and scream “Read that book!” This year I plan to do exactly the same thing! Because this book is even better! Dysfunctional sisterhood bonds, psychological twists you never see it coming, mind blowing POVs, darkness pouring chapters, violence, shock, whirlwind mind games, bleak, claustrophobic dog farm theme, jaw dropping cliffhangers, deeply layered characters, the saddest, creepiest, harshest back stories you hardly digest! This book is definitely MASTERPIECE! I couldn’t put it down! It gives me creeps! It shattered my heart! It freaked me out! But I couldn’t help myself to fall so hard for it!
Let’s quickly look at the plot:
Rob, English teacher, mother of two daughters, married with charming professor; correction: cheat scumbag who has serious anger issues. When she sees her 12 years old Callie starts acting weirder like collection animal bones, talking with ghosts, she gets worried at first. And when she finds out Callie might hurt her little sister Annie, she thinks that’s the last straw.
She takes the matters into her own hands and takes her daughter with her to drive to Sundial, the creepiest place she’s inherited from her parents. Rob is adamant to come clean with her daughter by sharing their family’s dark past. When her story will be over, she has to make the toughest decision to save her daughters. How far she could go to save them? Can she save the daughters from the darkness she’s kept for years? Who is the real monster? It seems like for saving their family, someone should be sacrificed, but who?
This is the best work of the author and even it’s too early to announce, this is the best horror book of 2022 ( I am all set to vote for it on Goodreads choice awards just like I voted for Last House on Needless Street)
I’m giving five billion stars! It’s definition of pure PERFECTION! I absolutely highly recommend it!
Millions of thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge -Tor Nightfire for sharing this incredible digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Another incredible book from Catriona Ward! Fascinating characters and unexpected twists to the very end.
Another absolute WIN from Catriona Ward. I have to admit, after reading The Last House on Needless Street which turned out to be one of the most epic books I’ve ever read, I was hesitant she would be able to do it again. BUT SHE SURE DID!!! Catriona Ward is a goddess in the literature world. The writing warps your mind the story has so many levels to analyze the characters clutch your heart and when you finish you want to start over again.
Once again this is not a book for everyone. It is not for the faint of heart. There are triggers for violence. If you can handle it, it is an absolute must read. Go in blind. Don’t investigate into the story too much. Just know you’re about to go into a psychological ride. Expect the unexpected and brilliance once again! Love love loved it!!
Thank you Catriona Ward so much for the arc in exchange for my honest review. I eagerly await the next extraordinary novel!!
There's something magical about Catriona Ward's writing--it's vivid, engaging, and completely twisted. This is the second book I've read by Ward (the first being *The House on Needless Street*) and even though I know to anticipate twists, and I know things won't be what they seem, she manages to keep me guessing --even when I do predict the outcome. There's always another surprise, another nuance, another callback. She has a delicious way of penning unlikeable characters that you still root for, even though you spend the vast majority of the book hating them. Masterful.
I don’t know what to say about this to express just quite how much I loved it. It was generations of stories come together in Rob taking Callie to the desert for their reckoning. It was sister-love-sister-trauma set in science, fate, and love. The narration style immediately drew me in and then Rob and Irving’s story. And then Rob and Jack. Rob and Callie. Rob and Annie. All of the stories fit into each other like Russian nesting dolls and they are all eerie and riveting and horrific.
What I thought was Rob taking her weird and, honestly, kind of creepy daughter on a trip to her childhood home in the Mojave desert for some new kind of attitude adjustment was so much more than that. The way the story keeps just rippling out from Rob and her twin sister Jack’s home into the present with Callie and her strange tendencies and back again is so all consuming as you read. I don’t want to spoil it but it was strange and terrifying and disgusting and infuriating and touching and heartbreaking and a read like nothing else I’ve ever found.
For fans of horror, psychological thrillers, unreliable narrators, folklore and ghosts.
I was looking forward to reading "Sundial" because I had been so intrigued by Catriona's previous book, "The Last House on Needless Street." I found "Sundial" to be much scarier, especially early in the book.
The story centers on Rob, her husband, two daughters, and her sister. "Sundial" is the name of Rob's childhood home and is the place where Rob takes her daughter, Callie, when she believes that Callie is killing small animals.
But, of course, things are not as they seem. That's the thrilling part of "Sundial." Rob's extended family is composed of a group of severely damaged people. Rob's husband abuses her and tries to turn their daughters against her.
Much of this book is Just. Extremely. Creepy. The rest, though, has a fascinating plot filled with twists. The final OOF! doesn't appear until the very last pages. It was worth it.
So if you can handle scary, creepy, and mean, you'll find a great read in "Sundial."
The less said about specifics, the better, as Sundial relies on twists and revelations. I enjoyed how the book turned out very different from what one might have expected from the first few chapters, and would argue that this book belongs in the psychological thriller category just as much as horror. Quite a fun trip trying to figure out what;s going on, even as the subject matter is quite dark. A good follow-up to The Last House on Needless Street.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy.
Sundial by Catriona Ward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ /5
After discovering some of her daughter Callie’s dangerous activities, Rob decides to take Callie on a trip back to her desert childhood home, Sundial. Sundial is dusty, wild, and haunted with memories of Rob’s strange past. Hopefully she can use the ghosts of her childhood to teach and protect Callie. How far can a mothers love go?
What a fantastic follow up novel to The Last House on Needless Street! It was dark (very dark), twisty, terrible, and mysterious with a full syringe of sci-fi infused horror.
What a thrilling novel! I absolutely recommend this for adults.
Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read and review prepublication. This novel will be published in March of 2022! 📚 🏚 🖤
Wow! What a crazy and intense roller coaster ride! This book grabbed me at page one and did not let go. So much excitement, thrills, twists and turns.
Complex storyline was flawlessly executed. I highly recommend this book.
Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book
"It's possible to feel the horror of something and to accept it all at the same time. How else could we cope with being alive?"
Catriona did it again! Sundial is about family and lengths we'll go to protect the ones we love. I would say more, but much like The Last House on Needless Street", you're better off diving in blind to get the full impact.
Sundial was my most anticipated read for 2022, and I was NOT let down. I never knew where the story was going, and the ending was perfect. The main characters were fleshed out and the plot was extremely engaging. While the prose may be flowery, it absolutely works in Sundial.
What an absolute delightful psychological horror.
Please check out the TW's before going into this.
Holy cow! If you thought Last House on Needless Street was creepy then buckle up because Sundial ramps it up a notch. A puppy farm, science experiment, twins and pale things are just the beginning. What a story! Catriona Ward is a master storyteller. Beautifully written and emotional on so many levels. One to read.
Thank you NetGalley for this arc
So, I read and loved The Last House on Needless Street and Sundial is another mindfuck of a novel! It's full of things that will make you squirm and twist around to make sure no one else can see what you're reading.
There's animal testing, sociopaths and psychopaths and above all the bond of love between sisters.
Fans of disturbing dark literary horror this is a must read!
Highly recommend pre-ordering this one and clearly your schedule for it's release this March!
TW for abuse and dogs are harmed!
This book was absolutely BANANAS, in the best way. Psychological horror + family dysfunction + weird science? Sign me up.
I went into it not knowing very much about the plot—and I’d recommend doing it that way, because the less you know the better. This is the sort of psychological horror that I absolutely love: there’s constant tension, and nothing is quite as it appears. Every time I felt like I knew where the story was going, I was hit with a twist. It’s definitely the sort of book where you’re never quite sure who the villain really is, what is reality vs fantasy, and you don’t really see the ending coming (phewww, that ending). All of these elements add up to a recipe for success, for me personally.
The book is told in dual timelines (one timeline is the present day, and the other describes Rob’s past as a kid/teenager growing up in Sundial), and also dual perspectives (most of the story is told via Rob, but we also get some chapters from Callie’s point of view). I found Callie’s chapters particularly unsettling—I always love a spooky child character, and Callie definitely provided that creep factor for me. Like, I never was really sure what was real, what was just in her head, or what to expect from this kid.
As I said, Rob’s chapters were where the meat of the story took place, and they do not disappoint. Reading her perspective felt kind of like walking through fun house mirrors—twisty, turny, terrifying, and every time you turn a corner you never end up quite where you expect. The writing throughout was seamless and compelling; I had a hard time putting the book down once I got going.
I will say this: when we first start getting introduced to the secrets at Sundial, I wasn’t super sure whether at first whether I loved that direction of things. Again, I cannot say very much here without spoiling the plot, but you’ll get it if you read the book. I’m glad I stuck it out, because even though the story at times is really kind of whacky and unbelivable, in the end the plot for me was satisfiying.
A lot of the story focuses on family dynamics and dysfunction. There was sooo much going on here that I found fascinating. It’s a story about sibling rivalry, but also unconditional sibling love. It’s a story about parenthood too, and the lengths that people will go to protect their kids. It’s also a story about how that level of unconditional love can lead to terrifying consequences.
I can’t say much else without giving things away, but I cannot stop thinking about all the moving parts between the different family members. It was really interesting to me reading about Rob’s past and her present–seeing how much Rob tried to get away from her past, but there are so many similarities between Rob’s dynamic with her daughters and Rob’s past with her family at Sundial. Ain’t it always the way, though?
It is interesting, also, to think about the story in terms of the Nature vs Nurture debate. Again, can’t say more than that without spoiling, but would love to discuss with anyone who ends up reading this one.
Anway, this book is not for the faint of heart. Definitely a lot of triggering content here, so be forewarned. I would say especially if you are sensitive to horror content involving animals (dogs in particular, in this case), go in knowing this is gonna be a rocky one for you. I would say that this isn’t gratuitous because it’s really central to the entire plot, but it is still difficult at times to get through.
The only thing I didn’t really like about this book were the “book within a book” chapters. I didn’t enjoy reading them and I didn’t really feel like they added anything to the plot—these sections felt disjointed from the rest of the story and they could have been removed entirely, in my opinion.
Overall though, I enjoyed this! Definitely a book of constant tension, darkness, dysfunction, and creep-factor. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.
What a fun, twisty ride! I devoured this book in 1.5 days. I simply couldn't stop reading it. Not the normal genre I tend toward, but I loved the way this author spins a yarn. It was creative, original, creepy, psychological, thrilling, suspenseful, and well-written. Highly recommend!
Catriona Ward is a must-read author for me now. Ugh. so good! Excited to see what she does next. Saw "the twist" coming more in this one but didn't mind either way. Loved seeing the story unravel.
Catriona Ward does the dang thing again with another intriguing, compelling story about a mother and daughter who takes a trip to the past to recover their future.
A well-written, phenomenal psychological thriller, written in mutiple distinct voices; with a perfectly-structured plot.
In my opinion this is better than The Last House on Needless Street.
I had a really hard time putting this book down.
The pacing was phenomenal and each word seems to be chosen with such intent.
There is no needless information that bores the reader, no scene that doesn't leave you turning pages well past midnight. A true gem!
A quick and entertaining read, that once you start, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from. Expertly plotted and perfectly written, Catriona Ward has delivered another addictive and enjoyable read.
Oh and that twist! I take my hat off to you Ward! Just brilliant!
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
I will post my review closer to pub date.
Wow! What a ride! An excellent, hard to put down read with relatable characters, well written prose, and a good plot with some unexpected twists. This may be a new favorite author!
I loved Ward’s novel “The last house of Needless St” so I was very anxious to get my hands on “Sundial, and it didn’t disappoint! I loved it, Ward knows hoe to keep you hooked on her books from beginning to end. It never gets boring, and those ends are the best! I will be reading her past work in the upcoming months and of course anything new she comes up with.
Review of Uncorrected Digital Galley
Married English teacher Rob Cussen seems to have survived her difficult childhood and is now the mother of two girls, ages twelve and nine. She’s managed to move on past her strange upbringing at Sundial in the Mojave Desert; however, her current situation with a continually philandering husband is far from ideal.
When Callie, her older daughter, begins behaving strangely, Rob knows what to do to keep her from those dark tendencies . . . she takes her daughter to Sundial where she will tell her the truth and hope for understanding.
But what will returning to Sundial mean to Rob? Will revealing her secrets be enough to save her daughter or will saving the young girl cost her everything?
Anchored by a strong sense of place, this is a story filled with deeply nuanced characters who slowly reveal their true [often contemptable] selves as the story evolves. Unpredictable and often terrifying, this narrative is both dark and deeply disturbing. Just when readers believe they have everything figured out, everything shifts in unexpected ways . . . nothing is as it appears to be in this story of families and relationships, of betrayals, of the past, and, most of all, of truth and delusion.
Revealed bit by bit, the backstory of Rob’s upbringing with her twin sister, Jack, gives new meaning to the term “dysfunctional.” Told mostly by Rob, with some later chapters told from Callie’s viewpoint, the unfolding story is both incredible and creepy. Filled with cringe-worthy horrors, the story twists and turns as it works its way toward an ending the reader simply won’t see coming.
Despite the narrative’s unsettling nature, there’s something quite haunting about the telling of this tale. And, while readers are sure to find it difficult to set this one aside before turning the page, it’s a story that’s likely to stay with them long after they’ve turned the final page.
I received a free copy of this eBook from Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire and NetGalley
This is the first book I read in 2022 and honestly don’t know how anything is going to top it. Ward is fast becoming one of my favourite writers and I already can’t wait for her next release. It’s a richly character driven story with secrets that are doled out at such a pace you will have trouble putting the book down. It’s told in alternating points of view between a mother and her young daughter and reveals the darkest parts of motherhood, marriage, sibling bonds and a woman’s fear of passing the worst pieces of herself down to her children. It will trick you until the very last dark and twisty page.
Reviews also posted on Indigo’s website and in Killer Crime Club on Facebook.
This is a wounded, ferocious, sandstorm of a novel. Ward has crafted a relentless thriller that constantly leaves you wondering what is real, what is imagined, and if either of the two is less dangerous. She doesn’t offer a single reliable narrator, but instead jumps between three main perspectives, a mother and daughter in the present day, and the mother in the past, and each has a distinct voice and style and emotional experience. All of them are washed out by the burning desert sun of the harsh background world she has created, a desert in the sense of climate and terrain, but also in the sense of a place that is both filled with extremes and also lacking something fundamental, a place where if life manages to survive it is ragged but determined.
The story is plotted well, with a number of surprises, some expected and some not, that are well-seeded and feel like they’re given out in good measure. It isn’t everything at once, and it doesn’t feel forced or gimmicky. The structure isn’t ground-breaking or revolutionary, but it is effective, and you don’t want to put the story down once it gets its fangs in you. The characters and their lives are incredibly well-drawn, even though in some ways the details are sparse. The portrait of dysfunction and domestic abuse that is drawn out in the first chapter alone is intimate and frightening, and the trauma that pervades every sentence is felt more than described. Rob and her daughter Callie are complicated, and while they are each damaged in their own way, and that is what compels the story in many ways, that is not the only thing they’re allowed to be. The writing is direct and smooth, with enough description to make you feel the grit of the desert sand and the fear of the bite of broken glass, but without feeling perfunctory or exposition-y. As I mentioned the different perspectives have different writing tones/styles, which adds to the interest of the story. Randomly interlaced are also chapters from unpublished novellas that one of the character has written, and these didn’t really do a whole lot for me. They never really added anything new to the story, and the story their existence tells about the character’s fractured yet resilient nature isn’t every really evolved through repeated returns to this story-within-the-story. With that said, everything else about the book was so compelling that the inclusion of these didn’t take away from the book. I appreciated that they forced you to take a breather form the action, creating more anticipation, and even though they didn’t work for me they didn’t get in the way. Overall, the writing is confident and unflinching, looking at very dark, dangerous places and not shying away from being the mirror to reflect those places back at us.
The story is dark and exciting, and the characters complicated and engaging. I tore through this book, consumed it in just a few days, and recommend it to anyone interested in thinking about family, devotion, nurture/nature, and what it means to be responsible for the broken things we try to mend.
I want to thank NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire, who gave me a complimentary eARC in exchange for an honest review.
The book “Sundial” was a perfect read. There were parts where I was reading the book and genuinely had to take a step back. It’s full of twist that you never see coming and the end is beyond amazing. I 100% would recommend this book and give a confident 5 stars!
Rob Cussen's perfect domestic life is shattered when she catches her preteen daughter, Callie, trying to murder her younger sister. Desperate to explain Callie's violent behavior Rob takes her to her childhood home, Sundial, a scientific research compound in the Mojave desert, and recalls her fraught childhood with her twin sister, Jack.
As a big fan of Ward's other novel, The Last House on Needless Street, I could not help but make comparisons as I read Sundial. The two have many of the same hallmarks: unreliable narrators (Rob's narrative is intercut with excerpts from her novel, Arrowood, and events from Callie's point of view, both of which paint Rob as, Callie says frequently, 'unstable'), small plot details that landslide into shocking twists, undercurrents of supernatural weirdness, trauma, and Ward's lush writing style. But while The Last House on Needless Street was a breakneck twister chock full of bizarreness, Sundial is a slower, more sinister burn. The core of the story is a family drama: Rob and Jack, then Rob and Callie, share trauma and inflict harm on each other even as they love each other deeply.
Give Sundial to fans of Zoje Stage's Baby Teeth and to readers of psychological thrillers who want less crime drama and more bite in their books. It is not for the faint-of-heart; it contains pretty much every kind of abuse imaginable, except (to Ward's credit) sexual abuse.
I was excited to find out Catriona Ward had a new book coming out. Her previous novel, Last House on Needless Street, was one of my top books of 2021. Readers who enjoyed her previous book will be in for more of the same (but even better) in Sundial.
The book starts with the narrow point-of-view perspectives of two characters. From the beginning, I was hooked and really could not put the book down, turning page after page to find out what happens next. Dark family secrets are slowly revealed, and the ending has a few surprise twists. I am a huge fan of the first-person perspective in horror as the reader doesn't always know what is true or what is just in the narrator's misguided view of the situation.
The book has excellent storytelling and complex characters. This novel is hard to read at times. Themes delve into generational trauma and abuse, very real-life concepts that hit close to home. The meaning of the content and themes could be debated depending on who is reading it. The reader is left to read into the meaning in their terms, which is the mark of an excellent storyteller.
My only complaint is that there are multiple words spelled in a British style, for instance: tyre, colour, wearing a pair of trainers, etc. The story is set in the Southwest United States so that did take me out of the story a bit. hopefully, this will be corrected before publishing. I would have liked a little more closure at the end but I do think the ending fits the story. I am curious if the title of this story is a nod to The Sundial by Shirley Jackson, a horror writer whose style likely inspired the author.
I’m already sure this is going to be one of my favorite books in 2022. Sundial is a fast-paced and superbly written piece of psychological horror. Horror is an effective genre to explore the dark side of human nature and Catriona Ward has masterfully done so in this tale.
This is my first read by Catriona Ward, it was such a wild story and I absolutely loved it!
It's very dark and twisted psychological thriller/horror. Told in multi-timelines and perspectives, which I personally love, especially when kept between only a few people. This one took me by surprise.
Sundial by Catriona Ward was a wild ride from start to finish. At no point did I know where the story was going or what was going to happen next. I could not put it down!
I loved that the narration alternates between Rob present, Rob past, and Callie present. The multiple perspectives and timelines really helps build the unease that continually builds.
The atmosphere was amazing. There is something increasingly eerie and unsettling about a story told in the blazing sun.
As with The Last House on Needless Street, there were so many different layers to this story. Every time I felt like I had a grasp on what was happening, another layer was pulled back and I was shocked again.
I loved this book. It was atmospheric, unsettling, eerie, and absolutely thrilling!
Rob doesn’t know what she’s going to do when she learns one of her daughters is a killer. Between this revelation and the ordeals of co-parenting with her hostile, adulterous husband, Rob decides the best course of action is to go to Sundial, her childhood home, to get her daughter away from anyone else she might harm and set her straight. But going back to Sundial means reconciling with her own past while confronting the present dangers that threaten to tear apart her household. Is she ready to do everything she can to save her family?
This novel took everything I loved about Needless Street and exploded it into an entirely new and strange story. Sundial showcases Ward’s savvy in the things-are-not-what-they-seem narrative while furthering her interrogation of psychosis, multiple personalities and familial trauma. Her characters are extremely layered and developed brilliantly though rotating perspectives and movements in time that illuminate weird, sinister, and often dangerous behaviours in ways the reader will never see coming. At the heart is Sundial itself, a place so heavy with history that it takes on a life of its own. Ward does not waste a word in developing her characters and atmosphere.
With sharp and unwavering purpose, Ward’s novel guides you through the grotesque and indefensible to understanding motives and actions with perfect clarity.
My thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan-Tor/Forge for this incredibly intricate and evocative read.
I really enjoyed this. The story starts a little strange and there is a surreal quality to what you are reading. Eventually all the pieces come together. I couldn't put this down and just kept wanting to figure out what was going on. I enjoyed the desert environment most of this story took place in as well.
Catriona Ward thrilled me with The Last House on Needless Street, so I was excited to pick up this ARC and see what she had next on offer. She came through, with another amazing psychological horror/thriller that I couldn't put down. It's a bizarre and captivating interpretation take on "nature vs. nuture" and I am 100% here for it.
Sundial tells the story of Rob, a tortured mother of two young daughters who is haunted by a past that exists in the shadows. Her relationships are all deeply dysfuntional, but as the novel progresses the source of those dysfunctions becomes less and less clear. Is it her unconventional childhood on a research facility/farm? Her intense connection with her sister? Her unhealthy dynamic with her husband and parents? Her own inner demons? Rob is in a constant battle with a darkness she has known since childhood and is torn between her love for, and fear of, her twin sister whose behaviour has become erractic and disturbed.
One of Ward's talents is her ability to capture an inner dialogue that is raw and uncomfortable. The thoughts of Rob and her daughter Callie took me on a terrifying ride into how far mothers will go for those they love.
Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for the ARC.
Rob (not short for Roberta like I initially assumed) is trapped in a loveless marriage and fears that her older daughter Callie is disturbed and wants to kill her and little sister Annie. (I was reminded of the old TV movie Don't Go to Sleep.) So Rob decides to take Callie to her childhood home called Sundial to see if they can work things out. Or maybe get rid of her,
So far so good. But things get even better when the pair arrive at Sundial and Rob tells her daughter about her upbringing in this rather bizarre home/research station in the Mojave desert. Rob had a twin sister Jack (not short for Jacqueline like I initially assumed), and their relationship was tortured and full of secrets that affect both Rob and Callie in the present day. And one big secret still awaits them at Sundial. Like Last House on Needless Street, there are characters who are not what they seem and plenty of mind-blowing twists.
This mother daughter horror thriller had me gripped for the 2 days I could not put it down. The relationships build an eerie past and each chapter gives you more secrets and horrific findings. Catriona Ward is s magnificent writer and uses every last dark detail to pull you under into the horrifying darkness of the book. Hands down, amazing !!!!!!
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I liked how it used two characters perspectives and moved through time without being confusing. It made me want to read more of Catriona's books!
Another Catriona Ward book that I flew through and could not put down!
If you liked The Push by Ashley Audrain, you should pick up this book. It has similar themes with toxic mother/daughter relationships, trauma and not knowing who you can trust. Also, if you love Samantha Downing’s books, Ward and Downing are similar in the way they create characters and in the dark undertones of their writing.
Like her last book The Last House on Needless Street, which I also thought was incredible, Ward’s sense of atmosphere and suspense in Sundial is brilliant. While reading I always had a feeling of uneasiness and that I never quite knew what was going on. The pacing and plotting was impressive, smartly written and clever, with slow reveals scattered throughout the story.
I love how Ward explores psychological horror and digs in deep to her characters’ backstories and past traumas. Right from the beginning I wanted to know what had made this family so dysfunctional. Why had Rob even married or continued to stay with her husband, Irving, for so long? The start of the novel reads like a dark domestic thriller instead of a horror novel, but slowly the plot became darker with creepy and sinister things happening. I liked that the flashback chapters from Rob’s past didn’t take place right away. They happened right when I was at the edge of my seat wondering what the heck had happened that led to this chaotic and messed up family.
You don’t know who to believe or who to trust. And then when you think you start to understand a character, you see the same scene from a different POV, so you get a new perspective on what might be going on that upends what you thought in the previous chapter!
Ward is absolutely an auto-buy author for me from now on. While I did have some small criticisms with the development of some of the side characters, and there was so much going on in the plot that at times there needed to be a bit more resolution and explanation, I still have to give this book 5 stars for my compulsive reading experience, its wonderful sense of atmosphere, and depth of the main characters.
Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillian-Tor/Forge-Tor Nightfire for and advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Catriona Ward once again delivers an excellent twisty psychological thriller with elements of gothic horror. If you liked Last House on Needless Street, Sundial is not to be missed!
I went in to Sundial knowing pretty much nothing, and I suggest you do the same. It’s a thriller covering horrific themes, centered around a family with an incredibly strange dynamic.
Rob has a seemingly perfect life; an outwardly strong marriage, and two lovely daughters. But when Rob discovers her daughter Callie’s disturbing artwork, and hears her whispering to her imaginary friends, Rob decides it’s time for a mother-daughter pilgrimage. They head to Sundial, a desert community where Rob grew up. Here, Rob will reflect on her own past, and consider her role in her daughter’s uncertain future.
Oh my word, Sundial is an incredible book. A complete departure from Ward’s previous novel, The Last House on Needless Street, Sundial is an unconventional thriller. What begins as a family drama slowly descends into “WTF?!” territory, in the best way. To say it is full of “twists” is to do Ward a great disservice; Sundial is incredibly well-paced and plotted.
Keep in mind, the subject matter of Sundial is incredibly heavy. This is by no means a comfortable read. Trigger warnings for abuse (child, animal, domestic). Ward handles these incredibly sensitive topics well, and the reader leaves Sundial with a sense of redemption.
The slightly offbeat direction of this novel may not be for everyone, but I absolutely adored it. It’s a cliche, but after the jaw-dropping ending, I genuinely wanted to read the whole book all over again.
Sometimes, you pick up a book and you're not quite sure what you're going to get. For me, it happens everytime I pick up a novel by Catriona Ward.
When Rob begins to suspect there is something wrong with her older daughter, she spirits the two of them away to her family home in the Mojave Desert, Sundial. It's a place that used to be brimming with life, but now holds nothing but graves, memories, and ghosts. Rob brings her daughter out to make a choice, and reveal the chain of events that brought them both to where they are.
Catriona Ward hits another excellent, twisty novel out of the park with hard hits I never saw coming. If you want family dynamics, trauma, the choices someone makes, and all of it underlaid with the complicated relationships between parents and children, spouses and sisters, this is the book to read. In a way there are no truly "good" characters here, and that just makes everything so much better. There were multiple twists I never saw coming, and they all served to bring even greater depth to a story that invites you in before it truly gets its hooks into you.
I inhaled it in a single sitting because there was absolutely no way I could put it down.
An electric read full of twists and turns that had me staying up all night to finish reading. This is not a book to be missed.
I guess I’m just a Catriona Ward stan now.
There’s something very different at the heart of Sundial when compared to The Last House on Needless Street. In Needless Street I was happy for an ending that is tidier than what you usually get in horror. In Sundial I was blown away by the implications of the final twist so much that I lay awake for two hours after contemplating what would happen to the characters.
The twists aren’t loud gasps in the middle of the night, they’re a slow, rolling wave of you muttering “oh shit” again and again under your breath as more layers are added to the story. The main character goes from being a bland housewife to a mother who will do ANYTHING for her daughter. I loved the journey this novel took me on.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of Sundial in exchange for honest feedback.
Catriona Ward’s latest book, Sundial, will keep readers up way past their bedtime flipping greedily through pages to learn how it all unfolds. Just like House on Needless Street, this novel doesn’t follow a linear path, making every chapter an unpredictable ride. Every page is thick with suspense, delving deep into characters’ inner turmoils and revealing the broad spectrum of emotions attached to motherhood. This would be a great suggestion for fans of horror and psychological thrillers, including works by Jennifer McMahon and Simone St. James.
This was my first read by this author, and now I am hooked! The story was enthralling and kept me on the edge of my seat. The premise of this novel is genius, and the setting of a vast desert stands out compared to many other horror stories. The modified and experimented dogs reminded me a lot of the zombie dogs from resident evil so I felt a lot of nostalgia reading this, which adde to my enjoyment. Aside that, the psychological elements and relationship dynamics between the main characters was incredible! This story has a deeply human core that keeps you invested above the creepiness. I can't wait for this to be released later this year! In the meantime I will be gladly adding Ward's previous releases to my TBR.
“The Last House on Needless Street”, by Carriona Ward was on of my favorite books of 2021. When “Sundial” became available on Netgalley, I needed to read it. “Sundial” is a completely unique story from “The House on Needless Street” Ward creates flawed characters and shows how these humans can be the worst monsters. These two novels show her versatility as a storyteller. Ward is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
“Sundial” is a dark creepy psychological thriller featuring an extremely dysfunctional family. I do not want to go into the plot. It is best to go into this book blind.
Ward throws the reader into an unsettling plot with highly flawed characters. Rob and Irving are stuck in a hateful and loveless marriage. They have two daughters who are raised in anger and resentment. Callie, her older daughter, is my favorite. As soon as Callie starts behavior, Rob knows how to manage the darkness. I loved the extremely complex mother daughter relationship between Rob and Callie. As the story unfolds, revealed secrets explain Rob’s unstable life and Callie’s behavior.
Ward incorporates two perspectives into this book, and they really helped move the plot forward. The story keeps the reader guessing. As with “The House on Needless Street”, the final chapters bring the book together.
5 stars to Sundial by Catriona Ward. I was provided an early e-arc by NetGalley.
Super brief synopsis: Rob finds something disturbing in her oldest daughters room and takes her back to her childhood home that she has been avoiding to try to fix her new problems.
My thoughts: I absolutely love Ward's writing style. I like the general sense of unease that she writes and I really enjoy not fully being able to grasp what is happening and being in the dark with a lot of things. She inserts clues throughout the novel so you can slowly piece together what is happening, but there are still some shocking moments. What a wild ride - Catriona Ward is quickly becoming an all time favorite author!
Wow. Just wow. The Last House on Needless Street was one of my favorite novels from last year, so I was really excited what would the writer come up with next, and Ward's newest one, Sundial didn't disappoint.
It's a domestic thriller/psycho-horror novel written with two, very different POV. Ward is a master of creating exciting character voices and believable, damaged protagonists—the empathy is always there.
Sundial certainly pulls no punches, but despite the violence and the dark turn of events, this book has heart. Highly recommend it.
Catriona Ward is quickly becoming the queen of atmospheric, psychological thrillers. After reading The Last House on Needless Street and being left wowed I wanted to know if it was a fluke or she was the real deal and a new author to add to my MUST READ-AS SOON AS THEY COME OUT list. I saw Sundial as an ARC and requested a copy and was ecstatic when I was approved. She is so adept at setting the perfect tones for her books. It’s ominous and dark and you know nothing is as it seems but with Callie? Irving? Rob? Annie? Jack? Mia? Falcon? Who is the dangerous one or is it something or someone else? Her narrators are unreliable but in the best way possible.
The Last House on Needless Street was good but Sundial was unbelievably good. I was fully immersed in the story and as dark as it got, I couldn’t look away. I had to know how it all ended and the ending? It was not what I expected at all. Nothing was what I expected from about midway through. The twists kept coming almost making me feel like I was on a rollercoaster. I cannot recommend this book enough if you are looking for an immersive read that will keep you guessing and chill you to your core.
I have received this ARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I want to preface this by saying that I have never read any books by Catriona Ward, making this my first time reading from this author. I was a little nervous going into this, afraid that it would not live up to the hype that her previous books have received.
With that being said, I absolutely loved this book. I completed it in under 24 hours because I could not put it down. I think that anyone who wants to read it should dive into it knowing as little as possible, so I will keep all character traits and plot points very vague. What I found the most intriguing about this book was that I could not tell which characters were morally good or bad until the very end. Every chapter added a shocking new detail that added to the overall mystery of the plot, which made me pick up the book whenever I was able to.
I have not had much luck with the thriller/horror genre lately, which led me to believe that maybe this genre just wasn’t for me; this book definitely changed my mind! I would love to pick up more Catriona Ward books in the future!
“You can only do three things with danger: run away from it, fight it, or make friends with it.”
Rob just wants to be normal. Whatever that looks like. She finally has a husband and two little girls she adores. But looks can be deceiving. When something frightening happens, all the nasty little secrets begin to come out. Finding the bones of animals in her daughter, Callie’s, room, all of her past memories come rushing to the surface. How could she have even thought her life would be normal? Despite her nasty husband, she takes Callie and flees to her family home in the Mojave Desert. Sundial. It’s time for the truth to come out.
Rob and her sister, Jack, grew up here. Surrounded by mystery and fear. Dogs and laboratories and dead things. Something is wrong with them all. But what? And can they get away?
I thought that Ward’s last book, The Last House on Needless Street, was wickedly twisted. I was wrong. This is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller that will have you wide-eyed and biting your fingernails! We have a new star in the Horror genre and I am thrilled! Next, please!
NetGalley/ March 1st, 2022 by Tor Nightfire
This is an excellent, well written book, very disturbing and full of dread. lots of twists. I was afraid to read it esp because of the animal abuse and afraid while I was reading it but also enthralled.
I was absolutely blown away by Sundial! I was very much looking forward to this title after reading The Last House on Needless Street, and it exceeded all expectations. The reader is pulled right into the story, and the unreliable narrators keep you guessing up until the very end. Sundial is a heavy read and does touch on a number of topics that could be considered triggers. However, this content is necessary to the story and isn’t thrown in for shock value, so I felt that these subjects were handled appropriately. Much like with Needless Street, the ending was one that I did not see coming and I was completely satisfied with the conclusion. I’ll be on the lookout for anything else Ward writes.
Wow, I'm just blown away. Catriona Ward has done it again. This unsettling and twisted story will have you in knots. With multiple narrators and many of them highly unstable, it leaves you in a constant state of wondering what is around the next corner. Rob is a loving mother... at least she tries to be. Her husband Irving on the other hand is a creep from the start. When one of Rob's daughters starts doing really disturbing things, Rob decides the only thing she can do to save her family is take her daughter Callie to the desert, deep in the Mojave., where the darkness all started. This was twisted ride of crazy surprises with an ending that will leave you gobsmacked. Catriona Ward is an auto buy for me. Her writing is top notch and her story telling will leave you will goosebumps. Fives stars all around.
4.5/5 stars rounded up to 5 for this review-
Sundial is story shrouded in velvety darkness, and as a reader, I had to peel back layer after layer of that blanket to discover what is hidden beneath.
In this case…Bones. 💀 Clocks. Secrets. Dead things. Dogs.
It all begins with Rob, a mother of two daughters who is struggling in an unhappy marriage and cannot seem to connect with her pre-teen daughter, Callie.
In Rob’s defense, Callie has a strange way of behaving…a way that reminds Callie of her own troubled past. When things take a sinister turn, Rob decides her daughter is in need of some time away to figure things out.
She decides to take Callie on a one-on-one trip to her old childhood home, called Sundial… It is located in a secluded area of the California desert, and is a place of unpleasant memories and disturbing vibes…what could go wrong?
Holy shit…this book was so eerie and unique. The writing has an ominous quality to it throughout. It is unsettling and completely addicting.
The story explores a nightmarish area of motherhood and had some really great twists and turns. I highly recommend it for people who enjoy dark psychological horror books. 🦴
The Arrowood fictional story was the only thing that stopped this from being a full 5 stars for me. It distracted from the main storyline. I felt frustrated every time one of these chapters popped up and had to force myself not to skip through it.
Anyway, this was still an excellent horror story. Get your copy when it’s published March 1st! Thank you @netgalley for this ARC to review. I won’t forget this one.
Reading a book by Catriona Ward is akin to hopping in a car with someone. You’re promised an awesome adventure at a fabulous vacation spot, but you have no idea where you’re going, and you’re blindfolded. You can’t see anything, especially not the road signs telling you where you’re headed, but you trust the driver, so you forever hold your peace. Sure, the road might be ultra-dark and twisty, and you’ll have questions, but I promise you, you’ll enjoy the final destination. You can take that to the bank!
If you read last year’s The Last on Needless Street, what I’m saying isn’t news to you. That book threw me for so many loops that I was too dizzy to stand, but then of course, in the end it was heartbreakingly wonderful. Sundial is no different.
In it, you’ll meet a family of four. You won’t understand their histories and their present motivations until much later, but you won’t trust them. Any. Of. Them. You’ll feel unsettled, and at times, you’ll wonder if any of the varying stories you’re being told are connected.
But then…Catriona Ward will work her magic and seamlessly sew everything together perfectly, and you’ll wonder why you were ever confused in the first place. There never could have been any other explanation. It’s just that believable.
Grab this one as soon as possible. Don’t dither or dilly-dally. Reading this should be the highest of priorities.
Sundial by Catriona Ward was horrifying, thrilling and impossible to put down. This is the first book I've read by her so I'm excited to go back and read The Last House on Needless Street! What a truly amazing writer, I can't wait to see what's next! Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this digital arc.
This is the next Goodreads horror winner of 2022. This is the most twisted, bizarre horror novel I've read in a long time and I devoured every word. I slowly consumed this novel to make it last. SO GOOD!
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(5 stars)
My thoughts: HOLY MOLY.
I LOVED Needless Street, so this one was inevitably going to be compared to that, in my mind at least. It met EVERY expectation I had for it.
Not kidding, Catriona Ward is now an auto-buy author for me.
This was a bit easier to understand than Needless Street, but OH THE TWISTS!! Absolutely loved it.
Sundial will be released on March 1st.
Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for the advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I will freely admit I requested this bc of the cover aesthetics and because Nightfire was offering it to NetGalley readers as part of the spring previews. I was not expecting how deeply I got sucked in, and her wonderful kind of fucked up and twists that were in store here. On the surface, this is a story of a mom possibly having to make a terrible choice between two of her daughters. What this really is is a fucked up story about experimentation, family bonds, the things we hide from our kids and our spouses, and some really fucked up nature vs nurture stuff. My only issue with it is that a solid 45% is told via flashback, but the alternating POVs, desert gothic, and sheer depths of the fucked up ness makes up for it. Will be up front about the fact that there’s animal experimentation here (specifically on dogs and other mammals), if that is an auto-nope for you. But I’m definitely interested in her other works from this, and will be seeing if there’s anything at the library. Pick it up when it comes out in March, and get ready for some scary ass shit.
Catriona Ward continues to blow my mind with this new psychological thriller. Ward has a way of completely twisting things so you never know what's coming until the end. The ending itself with throw you into utter shock and awe. I don't see how any book will be able to top Sundial in this genre for this year. I give this author a huge round of applause for being so creative, and giving her readers stories that are just so twisted as well as addictive. Once you dive into Sundial, you will get losts in it's pages of horror and gore.
Sundial by Catriona Ward is a super creepy, twisty, unputdownable psychological horror novel!
Rob just wanted a normal life, but she constantly worries about the darkness she sees in her daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. She takes Callie back to her childhood home, deep in the Mojave Desert, where she will be forced to confront her past and make a terrible choice.
This book was extremely dark, disturbing, and bizarre, but I loved it! I was completely captivated by this story that messed with my head and my emotions. It was a slow burn that took off running toward the end! I spent most of the book feeling utterly confused, but it was like a train wreck and I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what was going on. Definitely did not see that big twist coming from a mile away! Catriona Ward has quite the imagination and is a seriously talented author! I will gladly read anything she writes!
I mean, I'm sat here thinking...what the crap did I just read?!?
Sundial ticks all the right boxes for me; dark, twisted and horrific. What I expected was creepy but what I got was wildly strange, eccentric and borderline cult-ish. It still had the creepy vibe and that carried throughout the book and the characters.
Rob and Irving are seemingly normal parents with seemingly normal children, Callie and Annie. Only it's clear right away this family is dysfunctional. When things reach a tipping point Rob takes Callie to her childhood home, Sundial, to try and connect pieces of her present with parts of her past.
Sundial, a strange sort of scientific compound in the Mojave Desert, sits looming like a storm. As Rob and Callie begin to connect we get to relive Rob's past at Sundial, learn exactly what made her and why Callie may be the way she is. . . or isn't.
If you are a fan of the thriller/horror genre, you won't want to miss this one.
Thank you to Tor Nightfire, Catriona Ward and NetGalley for the gifted copy!
After recently reading and loving The Last House on Needless Street by the same author, I was so excited to get approved for an arc of Sundial! And I loved it so much!! It is so dark, chilling and twisted, but I absolutely could not put it down! I tried and tried to figure out what was going on, but Ward expertly throws in so many twists and turns that it will leave you guessing until the very end. I'll be honest, I don't read much horror, but after surprisingly loving both of these books, I'll be reading more, and Ward is definitely now an auto-buy author for me! I have found it is really hard to review her books without giving anything away 😆 So I will say, if you're a fan of dark thrillers/horror and twists that will leave you guessing, this book is one you won't want to miss! Add it to your TBR immediately!
"𝑴𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒏𝒐𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒏𝒆𝒄𝒌. 𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒊𝒕 𝒕𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒔 𝒐𝒏 𝒎𝒆 𝒔𝒐 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝒃𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆."
Thank you Tor Nightfire and Netgalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is due for publication 3/2/22 and j definitely recommend it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for gifting me a digital ARC of the latest horror/thriller by Catriona Ward - 5 stars! Did you read The Last House on Needless Street? You must! And this book is just as creepy, dark and disturbing - but you won't be able to put it down!
Rob and her husband, Irving, are trying to live the idyllic life in the suburbs, raising two daughters, Callie and Annie. But, of course, nothing is as it seems. Rob and Irving are always at odds, Irving and Callie are so close to the exception of Rob, and now Rob is fearful that Callie will hurt Annie. She decides that she and Callie will go for a weekend to Sundial, the remote ranch where Rob grew up. Rob needs to let Callie know the truth of their past. But will they both make it home?
Move over Stephen King (but I still love you!) - Catriona Ward is able to deliver gut-wrenching, creepy, horror novels in short novels. No more slugging through 900 pages to get to the end where everything happens! Ward's writing is so good - she gets right to the heart of toxic relationships, dark feelings, and creepy atmospheres. The different POVs from Rob and Callie, along with Rob's writings, let us see into their thoughts. Lots of triggers here but definitely a must read!
I received an ARC from the publisher and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
I’ve heard good things about Catriona Ward’s prior books from other people, so I was eager to try something from her. Sundial, a creepy psychological thriller/horror, sounded right up my alley, and it was. This book has everything that makes a book eerie and haunting, from a dysfunctional family with perspectives you can’t entirely trust and secrets kept from each other to a setting with a house and environs that is truly creepy. It questions what/who is actually monstrous in a darkly poignant way.
The story is deeply complex and layered, and it’s definitely one I may have to revisit for that reason. However, I already find myself in awe of the twists and turns and how each one shakes up the dynamics and what you think you know about Rob, Callie, and everyone else.
This book is absolutely fabulous, and would recommend it to anyone who loves psychological horror/thriller.
Well this book sure was creepy and had me on the edge. I honestly didn’t want to put it down because I needed answers and Catriona Ward’s writing style is gravitating.
Rob is a married wife with two daughters, Callie and Annie. One who’s a daddy’s girl and one who is all hers. Her husband has been cheating with a neighbor and Callie has been acting strange. When she finds bones of dead animals in Callie’s room it sets her on edge. She must get her out before she does something, even worse if she harms her little sister. So Rob takes her to Sundial, where she grew up, the only place she believes can help the darkness within her child.
Told in dual perspective between Rob and Callie comes a horrifying story. Between a mother trying to save and protect her children the best way she can. Past secrets come out and sacrifices need to be made.
This story was gripping and imaginative and twisty. There is some upsetting content… if you’re a dog lover you’ll cringe. The dynamics between the characters make you feel like you’ve entered into a game of mind f**kery and make you happy to be normal, lol. It was unique and different and now I can’t wait to read more from this author.
When I finished this book, I looked at my husband and said “ what the f$&k did I just read?!” I was crying a little, and asked for a hug. Then I proceeded to tell him what I had just read. His response “ why do you read the most screwed up books?”
I am a fan of dark and disturbing horror. The darker the better. I don’t need the super gory blood bath horror, but I am ok with it. This book is everything I love about horror. It is a dark and f$&ked up tale that sticks it’s teeth into your brain, shakes it really hard and spits you out. I was left feeling dirty, confused, sad and slightly traumatized. I wanted a shower and a warm hug. This exact reaction is what is going to make Sundial a stand out book for 2022.
Catriona Ward had written the book of her career! Sundial runs circles around The Last House On Needless Street. This book is everything and just may be my favorite of 2022, I don’t even care about everything else that hasn’t come out yet! She smashed it with this book.
I can’t give away spoilers, but the synopsis doesn’t even touch the book. It’s mildly cultish, and a whole lot of crazy that I can’t talk about. Twisted isn’t the right word, it’s knotty. You can’t undo these knots that just keep popping up. The sisters, their parents, Sundials history… omg the daughters, the husband.. it’s all connected and wrong.
I devoured this book with both hands gripping tight. I was anxious and upset, disgusted and shocked. Read it and you will get it. Then come back and talk to me about it. I need some therapy.