Looking Glass Sound

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Pub Date 08 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 15 Aug 2023

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A USA TODAY BESTSELLER • A Best Book of 2023(Vulture)A Best Horror Book of All Time (Cosmopolitan) • A Best Horror Book of 2023 (Esquire) An Indie Next Pick • A LibraryReads Hall of Fame Pick!

The author of The Last House on Needless Street, Catriona Ward, delivers a masterful story about friendship and betrayal, dark obsessions, and the impossibility of escaping your own story. "Here's your next obsession."
(Kelly Link, author of Get In Trouble)

In a cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast, Wilder Harlow has begun the last book he will ever write.

It is the story about the sun-drenched summer days of his youth in Whistler Bay, and the blood-stained path of the killer that stalked his small vacation town. About the terrible secret he and his companions, Nat and Harper, discovered entombed in the coves off the bay. And how the pact they swore that day echoed down the decades, forever shaping their lives.

But the more Wilder writes, the less he trusts himself and his memory. He starts to see things that can’t be real – notes hidden in the cabin, from an old friend now dead; a woman with dark hair drowning in the icy waters below, calling for help; entire chapters he doesn’t recall typing, appearing overnight. Who, or what, is haunting Wilder?

No longer able to trust his own eyes, Wilder begins to fear that this will not only be his last book, but the last thing he ever does.

An origami puzzle of a book, the mystery so beautifully crafted you don’t see the folds, with edges sharp as a paper cut.”—Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls

A USA TODAY BESTSELLER • A Best Book of 2023(Vulture)A Best Horror Book of All Time (Cosmopolitan) • A Best Horror Book of 2023 (Esquire) An Indie Next Pick • A LibraryReads Hall of Fame Pick!


Advance Praise

“Looking Glass Sound is my favorite Catriona Ward novel yet, which is saying something. There are twists and turns here that even the most jaded reader will find hard to predict. If you love the novels of Shirley Jackson, Patricia Highsmith, and Tana French, here’s your next obsession.” —Kelly Link, author of White Cat, Black Dog

"Nearly every sentence is faultless, gutting and precise. Come for the family secrets but stay for the humanity, tenderness, and empathy that are so central to Ward’s storytelling. This book will truly haunt you long after you read it."—Olivie Blake, New York Times bestselling author of The Atlas Six

"In the right hands, narrative can be a kaleidoscope, fracturing into more and more wondrous configurations. I think maybe Catriona Ward spilled a little blood into her kaleidoscope with this one."—Stephen Graham Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians

"Devastatingly beautiful, bone-chilling and enchanting. Looking Glass Sound is further proof that no one writes like Catriona Ward. No one conjures such heartbreak from such raw fear. An alchemist of storytelling."—Chris Whitaker, New York Times bestselling author of We Begin At the End

"Catriona Ward's books are each potent, dark, immersive, and surprising. Looking Glass Sound is a frightening nesting doll of a novel about ghosts and monsters, trauma and loss, and the specific aching intensity of teenage friendships. Perhaps most of all, it's a book about stories-and their ability to save or destroy the teller. You'll stay up all night wandering the labyrinth Ward has deftly constructed." —Katie Gutierrez, bestselling author of More Than You'll Ever Know

“This twisted tale of ghosts and murderers, derailed lives and childhood traumas is a vertical labyrinth that will take you straight down into the heart of darkness. Enthralling and heartbreaking.” —M. R. Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts

“I couldn’t tear myself away. Looking Glass Sound is slyly addictive. Falling into a Catriona Ward book means knowing you'll be caught and never let go. Unconventional, imaginative, and brazenly twisted.” —Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of No Gods for Drowning

"Ward is a master of tugging at the strings of a deeply personal story until she's woven them into an epic, terrifying, multi-generational web. Looking Glass Sound is haunting and immersive. I loved getting caught up in it." —Chuck Tingle, author of Camp Damascus

"You’ve read nothing like it before.... Impossibly compelling, brilliantly plotted, and incredibly moving all at once. I think at this point we can all just agree to follow Ward wherever she takes us.” —Virginia Feito, author of Mrs. March

“The dread rises like a saltwater tide in a claustrophobic cave. Looking Glass Sound is a mesmerizing and haunting performance of a novel.” —Lavie Tidhar, author of By Force Alone

"Ward is an inspired spider and Looking Glass Sound is her most masterful web yet. And we, dear readers, are nothing more than mere flies happily trapped within the pages of this brilliantly intricate novel."—Clay McLeod Chapman, author of Ghost Eaters

"Unbelievably good.... so clever, so haunting and melancholic. It's so beautiful, so dark, and so vivid." —Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne    

"Totally stunning. ...At its heart a book about the madness of story telling, possession and grief. I loved it!"—Araminta Hall, author of Imperfect Women

"So, so brilliant. Absolutely Ward's best yet. Her characters, the way she weaves together all the storylines, the reveals - all of them top notch, brilliantly done, and all while my heart was literally banging out of my chest." —Lisa Hall, author of The Perfect Couple

“Looking Glass Sound is my favorite Catriona Ward novel yet, which is saying something. There are twists and turns here that even the most jaded reader will find hard to predict. If you love the...

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Featured Reviews

Looking Glass Sound is far less "horror" than some of Ward's other books, but no less enjoyable for that. It's a rich, confounding, and doom-laden read. Perspective on the book’s main events is provided initially by the protagonist’s (Wilder) journal and then fictional renderings of those same events. It’s all very “meta” but it’s rendered so naturally that you barely notice. There are echoes of Thornton Wilder in Wilder’s complicated sexuality and the setting and tone of the story in salt-sprayed coastal climes evoke Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (also the name given to the first death in the story). The writing is crisp and uncluttered, and the setting in Maine is intriguing in contrast to Stephen King’s many stories set in that state. What links this book to Ward’s earlier works is the messy humanity of the characters and the absence of an easy good versus evil dichotomy. It’s all shades of gray, just like life.

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Catriona Ward has me in a chokehold! I have been anticipating this book for over a year and it did not disappoint. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
The only way to describe this book is MASTERFUL STORYTELLING!!!!
Her writing style is unmatched, and her ability to create stories within a story will leave you questioning what is real. The twists in this had me immediately wanting to start it again, and the characters will stay with me. I laughed, I teared up, I was unsettled (ok, at times I was scared), and I read the last 10% with my jaw on the floor. I know this won’t be for everyone, but I do know that it will be a forever favorite of mine.

{Thank you NetGalley and Tor Publishing for the advanced reader copy}💕

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Catriona Ward is one of my favorite authors and I always know I'm going to be confused through most of the book but getting to the end and the light bulbs going off, the twists and turns is always worth it!! Looking Glass Sound did NOT disappoint. Ms. Ward has a way of writing that guarantees the reader is going to go back and reread her books again and again. When this is published...I'm there! I've made sure she's on our library's Must Purchase list.

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I had no idea what to expect with this book, and honestly, still wasn't sure what to expect as I was turning the final pages. It was compelling, beautifully written, strange, and uncomfortable. I have only read Little Eve from the author, and while I mostly enjoyed its confusing structure, red herrings, and narrative diversions, I feel she really perfects the style here. And I know it is being marketed as horror, but this will definitely appeal to readers of psychological suspense. Very much recommended.

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Another instant classic from Catriona Ward! This book gave me whiplash with all the twists and turns but I very much enjoyed it! Would recommend to a friend!

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Always enjoy reading something from Catriona Ward, this had what I was looking for in this type of book.It had the same great style that I enjoyed from both the author and the genre. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and their world, the plot worked well overall and I'm glad I read this.

"Gradually, as the list goes on, my breathing steadies, my hands stop shaking. This is the only way to keep the dream from taking me: I nail myself down with facts. I make them warm people once more. My mother hated it, my habit of clipping all the stories about each victim from the paper and keeping it. I hoard them, treasure each one like a priceless jewel. I have to; each fact about the oil-drum women is a delicate thread that tethers me to sanity."

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If there is one thing I can say about this author, it's that she has such a unique ability to create a story in ways that no one else can. Taking random bits and pieces that seemingly come out of nowhere and making it all make sense in the end, adding surprises and "what the hell" moments. I'm not going to lie, I loved the first half of this and then the second half came and I started to speed read and skip parts, losing interest. Then I get to the last fifty or so pages and had an "oh my God" moment where I went back and read what I skimmed through. I don't know how she does it but this author is a genius. She is so ahead of the current game and in a league of her own. I highly, highly recommend this one. Five Stars.

Thank you Netgalley and Tor Publishing Group for this ARC.

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Multiple perspectives; an incredibly unique & brilliant format & structure to a book, & that's an understatement; this book was an enthralling adventure w/a whirlwind of emotions as twist after twist just get constantly chucked at you; definitely challenging to follow at times, but in the best way possible; one of those books that you finish & then just stare into the abyss for awhile as you digest it all

Special thank you to Tor Nightfire, Catriona Ward, and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Every time I think back on what I just read I shriek…

It’s Catriona Ward.

We will never be able to predict this wildly talented author. I can still remember the feelings I had after concluding The Last House on Needless Street.

I also remember how Bookstagram took an unspoken oath to one another that we would never review the book in fear of spoiling it for the next reader. Everyone needed to feel that sudden shock and spine tingles . (Still one of the best books EVER)

Then I read Sundial and Little Eve and I was equally as impressed . After reading both of these books I knew I bit the bug . I was obsessed with Catriona Ward and needed to feverishly stalk the internet for signs of the next book…

Well it came

Looking Glass Sound

I can not believe I am saying this, I never ever thought a book would blow my mind like The Last House on Needless Street BUT, it just happened… Looking Glass Sound just slipped right on in to my most favored books .

I am in udder shock and I am at a loss for words .

Five Stars will never do this book justice . This one right here just broke our rating scale.

I’ll never spoil a Catriona Ward book so all I will tell you is that you need to drop what you are doing and immediately run to pre-order this book.

Teaser :

In a cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of a sun-drenched summer of his youth and of the killer that stalked the small New England town. Of the terrible tragedy that forever bonded him with his friends Nat and Harper in unknowable ways. Of a horror that has followed them over the years.

Wilder has returned to the town decades later in an attempt to recount that summer's events in his memoirs. But as he writes, Wilder begins to fear his grip on the truth is fading, and events in the manuscript start to chime eerily with the present. He’s even started seeing a dark-haired woman down in the icy waters below the cottage, but nobody else can.

No longer able to trust his own eyes, Wilder begins to fear that this will not only be his last book, but the last thing he ever does…

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I have no idea how to review this without spoiling anything, but I will say this author has done it again with another brilliant book. Once I got to the last page, I knew I would be reading this again to see all the missed details. Absolutely loved it.

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Beware the Dagger Man.

These were the words that echoed through Wilder Harlow's teenage years on the remote New England town of Whistler Bay. He's returned to the solemn Whistler Bay one final time to write one final book--a memoir of his childhood, the rampant killer amongst them, and the betrayal of his college best friend Sky, who stole Wilder's memoir & turned it into a bestselling work of fiction: Looking Glass Sound.

As time runs out to finally reveal the truth of Whistler Bay, Wilder finds that his grip on reality is slipping. Whistler Bay and Looking Glass Sound begin to take each other's form, and with them, Wilder finds characters from his past coming to life and haunting his present. What's worse: he's found notes around his lonely cottage on Whistler Bay that suggest some of his past refuses to stay buried.

Somehow, some way, readers, Cat Ward has done it again. "Looking Glass Sound" in many ways may be her most complex and most polarizing novel yet, but I would whole-heartedly consider it a literary horror masterpiece. With a coastal setting all its own that Ward breathes incredible life into, "Looking Glass Sound" is a completely new labyrinth that requires (like its predecessors "The Last House on Needless Street" and "Sundial") readers to devote attention to every last detail.

Marching forward with a suspense-laden sense of dread, "Looking Glass Sound" is, at its core, a story about stories and the perpetuity of words. Haunting, moving, and most of all, shocking, this is one for true Ward devotees. Enjoy the ride.

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It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Catriona Ward’s precious books that I have read so I was highly anticipating her newest books and even my extremely high expectations were blown out of the water.
Like any of her other books I would highly recommend going into this book as blind as possible. That’s mostly because I don’t think I could give a concise synopsis of this book that didn’t somehow spoil the fun of it. The only thing I will say is that this book is very self-aware and if you don’t like books that you really have to think about while you are reading them, you won’t enjoy this. It’s impossible to describe Ward’s writing style but just know, if you are somewhat confused through 80 percent of the book, you are doing perfect.
Reading a Catriona Ward book is like being given a giant paint by number but you can only fill it in while it is super zoomed in so you can no idea what it is and some of the colors don’t seem like they would fit in at all and once you finish it and zoom out, it the greatest thing you have ever seen.
I think any of Ward’s books could easily be studied in a literature class but this particular book opens itself to so many discussions. I could easily write pages about this book and still not run out of things to say. This is definitely going to be in my favorite books of the year.

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WOW! I devoured this book in one day and have been thinking about this ever since. I think its best to go into this aa blind as possible.
This was an amazing read that I have added to favorites!

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Having read & enjoyed Sundial & The Last House on Needless Street I was absolutely thrilled to receive this ARC.
What a beautiful, chilling & exciting novel. I did not predict all of those twists, and thoroughly enjoyed this. This is one of those books that you think about for days after reading it.
CW is an auto-buy author for me forevermore.

TYSM to Netgalley and Tor Nightfire Publishing for letting me be an ARC reader. Happy to do so again in the future. Also, I do weekly book giveaways on my tiktok page (@hauntedhousebooks) and will definitely be featuring this in a giveaway during it's release week to help promote it.

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Everything I thought about this story was flipped around by the end. But, unlike with some books, where the twists are shocking because they don’t make much sense, in Looking Glass Sound, every twist and turn runs parallel to the original narrative.
I found this to be an excellent exploration of grief, queer longing, identity, and so much more.
There isn’t a single person that I would not recommend it to.
If there’s a word above brilliant, that is what this book is.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for providing me with the ARC!
Catriona Ward has done it again. This book gave me thrills, chills, and then it fried my brain in the best way possible. Was it confusing? Absolutely. Did I understand where it was heading? Nope. The only way I can describe this book is by comparing it to a puzzle. Imagine you’re doing a 5,000-piece puzzle, and you think you’re nearing the end, but then you realize you’re missing a few pieces. Then you somehow find the missing pieces, put them in their places, and think, “I figured it out!” but then you look at the puzzle, and you’re like, “what the heck is this supposed to be?” It’s only then that you realize you’ve been putting the puzzle together upside down.
That was what the journey of reading Looking Glass Sound was like.
I can’t really talk about the actual plot of the book without spoiling it, so all I can say is that Ward has continued to masterfully craft a creepy, off-feeling ambiance filled with twists and mind games. Ward is one of the few authors that I’m automatically excited to read, and I can’t stop myself from rushing through her books. I have no doubts that Looking Glass Sound will be met with even more positive acclaim, and Ward will continue to be an iconic voice in horror.

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Heart pounding thriller that left me on the edge of my seat. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. Definitely one of the best books this year.

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I'm a huge fan of Catriona Ward. This is the fourth book oh hers I've read and she is seriously on top of her game.

To call this just a "horror" book would be insulting almost. It's got multiple characters, timelines, and story arcs yet it flows beautifully and you never see where this novel is taking you. As with her other books, reading Catriona Ward is like kayaking down a river blindfolded. It feels dangerous, exciting, and your focus is solely on the ride to (hopefully) safety. But you also feel exhilarated and don't want it to end.

This is easily on my list of top ten books of the year.

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I have rarely read a book that doesn't contain chapters, and I was surprised that the lack of chapters almost made me feel like I was reading faster.
The story twists and turns so much that, at the beginning, we are following a sort of awkward teen during their summer break spending time with friends, but soon after the story takes sharp turn after sharp turn. I was so hooked in this story, trying to parse through what was happening next and where the story would go. I don't want to give too many details because, having read the book, I would argue that going into this as blind as possible serves the plot exceptionally well. I have read a few things by Ward before, but this is definitely my favorite so far. Definitely looking forward to more by this author--I highly recommend this one!

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for my gifted copies. Hands down one of the best ARCs I’ve ever received.

The following comes from a place of love. This book was so strange, confusing and addictive. Like The Last House on Needless Street, Sundial and Little Eve before it, I had no idea where the story was going until it got there. And even now I’m still processing it and can’t wait to read it again. I never reread books!

Disclaimer: I required a buddy read with frequent analyzing and detailed note taking to get through it with my sanity intact, so I highly recommend one and/or both of these things before embarking on this endeavor 😅

I hope we get another book from Ward. Soon. Until then I’ll be in withdrawal over here.

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4.5 stars, rounded up

Ward has a gift for shaping form and format into unpredictable and exciting new areas. The focal shifts in this one made my head spin. If you've read "The Last House on Needless Street", you know how Ward can flip the narrative on a dime. "Looking Glass Sound" has similar vibes.

The chapter-free, highly-digestible prose made it nearly impossible to put down. When the story gets its hooks in, it doesn't let go. I felt trapped reading it, which added to its horror and appeal.

It starts as a story of an awkward teen who spends a summer with new friends. It veers sharply so many times throughout its progression; I was never quite sure what to believe. There were subtle, clever hints that there was more than meets the eye, and an air of confusion and uncertainty lasts until the final page.

I'm keeping plot details scarce for this review. It's another one that's most effective if you go in blind.

Ward is one of my favorite living writers. Everything she publishes is a day-one purchase. While I like some more than others, they're always interesting and pleasantly disturbing. "Looking Glass Sound" continues this tradition. I rank it up there with "Needless Street" as her best work yet.

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Looking Glass Sound is an unfathomable web of tragedy and betrayal that incessantly rearranges itself to drive the knife in ever deeper. Under the guise of a memoir that will expose the truth to the horrors of a small coastal town, Catriona Ward supersedes reality, creating a fractured world that further cements itself as more and more horrors are revealed. This is the perfect thriller to lose yourself in, and I love how the narrative almost rejects being defined. Catriona Ward’s writing is a terrifying force, and Looking Glass Sound pulls you under like an unforgiving tide.

A full review will be posted on my blog closer to publication!

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We meet Wilder Harlow when he arrives in Maine with his parent for vacation. Ward already begins her hypnotism - weaving a story of a young man who cannot fit in and is looking for acceptance as his parents marriage disintegrates. There is a serial killer in Maine, and Wilder begins to record the events for his first planned novel, but that's just the first half of the book. Wilder returns many years later and with complete control, Catriona Ward adds layers to the story that will make you question once, twice, three times what happened. If you are a fan, you know that nothing will be straight forward and that that horror will slowly seep in. This is a slow burn of a book but so artfully and beautifully done. I loved it and challenge you to find something similar.
.#Tor #LookingGlassSound #CatrionaWard

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Boy what makes this book different?? How about everything! This is one of those books after you read it you think what did I just read? And this isn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed the book but you need to read it through and don’t skip to the ending because you will be really lost.
The story starts with a tale of a boy, Wilder, going to his uncles summer house to stay while they fix it up to sell. While he is there he meets two kids, Nat and Harper, who also come from a rough home life. They bond over the summer with trips to the beach and cave diving. During that summer some women disappear and mysterious Polaroids are found with someone taking pictures of sleeping children with a knife to their throat. When the mystery is solved Wilder leaves and the story picks back up when he is in college and drifting from that nightmare summer. You need to keep your eye on the ball because before you know it the story goes a different way and that’s great story telling.
It is definitely a book that will haunt you for a few days, the characters are intense, the store is extraordinary and the writer does story telling to another level.

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Another incredibly unique thriller from Catriona Ward. I don't want to spoil the (many) twists so I will just say that I am so excited to push this book on my friends and customers- if only so I can get their reactions!

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This book really made me think and question everything I just read in prior chapters. There's so many layers to the book. I was still thinking about this book days later and trying to piece together what actually happened. I think I might read this a second time to see if I catch any other clues and hints about what was going on

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I don't feel worthy enough to review this book. Catriona Ward is by far one of my favorite authors. Her writing style is so unique and I know that any book I pick up from her....I will love.

Looking Glass Sound was absolutely a 5 star read. As usual, I was all over the place....confused.....guessing....confused again. Sheer Madness and I LOVED IT! Keep em coming Cat!!!

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At this point, if Catriona Ward wrote in lipstick on a napkin I'd buy it. Genre notwithstanding, she is a towering talent with an infallible sense of literary timing. Writers across the spectrum could take a lesson from her deft hand with structure and revelation in the text. As a writer, I was thrilled that she decided to examine the power and the danger of writing itself. Her trademark labyrinthine plots - complete with horrors both objective and interpersonal around every corner - lent itself so well to the book-within-a-book (within-a-book) structure. As always, Ms. Ward seeded her worlds-within-worlds with the painful inevitability of generational trauma. And as always, I'm in awe. One could aspire to write half as well and still be considered brilliant.

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Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward is a haunting and gripping story of a writer's attempt to revisit his past and tell the story of a sun-drenched summer of his youth, and the tragedy that forever bonded him with his friends Nat and Harper. Wilder Harlow, a bestselling author, returns to the small New England town decades later to write his memoirs, but as he writes, he realizes that events in the manuscript are starting to chime eerily with the present.

The novel is a masterful exploration of memory, truth, and the blurred lines between reality and fiction. The author skillfully weaves together Wilder's present-day experiences and his memories of the summer that changed everything. The characters are richly drawn and complex, and their relationships are intricately woven into the fabric of the story.

What sets Looking Glass Sound apart is Ward's ability to create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere that permeates the entire book. The cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast and the dark-haired woman Wilder sees in the icy waters below add to the sense of foreboding that pervades the story.

The book's pace is perfect, with tension building slowly but surely as Wilder's grip on reality begins to slip. The ending is shocking and unexpected, a fitting conclusion to a story that keeps the reader guessing until the very last page.

Overall, Looking Glass Sound is a haunting and thought-provoking novel that explores the nature of memory and the power of storytelling. It's a must-read for fans of psychological thrillers and anyone who enjoys a good, unsettling read.

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Catriona, my queen, what ever you do, DON’T. STOP. WRITING. You are my auto-buy. You are my “ohhh I'm so excited to see how she is going to mess up with my mind again”. You are my “this is the new type of horror I’m in”. Now that I’m done fangirling, let’s talk about this story within story, book within book.

I thought being stuck in a story might be fun; because it is like living forever. But I understand when people warm you be careful what you wish for. Sometimes being capturing in a photograph or a story can be worse than any curse. Not every image worth remembering, not every story is meant to be retold. Wilder should have known about it. Nathaniel should have known about it. They should have listened more intently when Harper spoke.

I didn’t expect the layers after layers thrown at me when I flipped these pages. I was wondering where those few words that were exchanged as a part of the game were going to lead. I don’t know how to describe my amazement without giving away more than I should, but “in Catriona we trust”

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If you pick up any Ward book you are guaranteed to read the unexpected. I have never read an author that consistently provides numerous shocking twists to the very climax of the story. Her ability to write a sense of place allows you to feel and smell the ocean or the coziness of beach house. She has definitely become one of my go to authors. Looking Glass Sound is lonely, dark, mysterious, and gruesome. At one point (no spoilers) I was taken back by a relationship with two of the characters and wasn’t sure why it was needed for the story, and almost stopped reading, but later saw how it was necessary and wouldn’t have worked otherwise. Highly recommended!

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Utterly fantastic, just so creepy and powerful. This author never fails to amaze me. One of my recent favorites and I'll be recommending it to everyone upon release.

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When you start reading this one, you think “wow, this seems fairly normal for a Cat Ward story…”. You’re wondering where and when the signature Ward WTFness is going to hit.

But as you keep reading, you start to realize THE LAYERS. THE LAYERS are added via slight, quiet reveals and unsuspected twists and turns.

Then you take a deep breath as you realize the signature Cat Ward WTFness is in full effect after all.

I saw a review that called this a “frightening nesting doll of a novel” and that’s so accurate. There are layers up on layers here and it’s kinda amazing to watch it all unfold.

It might just be my favorite Ward novel so far.

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I'm a huge fan of Catriona Ward. This is the fourth book oh hers I've read and she is seriously on top of her game.

To call this just a "horror" book would be insulting almost. It's got multiple characters, timelines, and story arcs yet it flows beautifully and you never see where this novel is taking you. As with her other books, reading Catriona Ward is like kayaking down a river blindfolded. It feels dangerous, exciting, and your focus is solely on the ride to (hopefully) safety. But you also feel exhilarated and don't want it to end.

This is easily on my list of top ten books of the year.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Catriona Ward is an author that has consistently kept me guessing with each of her novels--never able to form an "answer" to any part of the mysteries on my own. LOOKING GLASS SOUND is no exception.

In fact, this one might just be her most psychologically twisting one to date.

". . . Good and bad can feel like the same thing, I think, if they're intense enough."

In this book, we have Wilder Harlow, a teenager vacationing in Whistler Cottage in Maine. The cottage had been left to his family by a now deceased Uncle, and this vacation was to help the family get back together in a sense. While there, he meets Nat and Harper--one a poor boy living with his father there, the other a rich girl whose family owns a vacation cottage to spend summers in. The three quickly become a "set", which is one of the things I love most about this story, as Wilder never felt he "fit in" at his school and town. Yet the summer founded a beautiful friendship among the three.

The characters are each complex in their individual ways--Wilder longs to be a writer, Nat has issues with his father that are only implied, and Harper has more baggage than you would ever expect. However, their summer friendship puts them all on the same level. The words flow beautifully, and no matter how much you know you're NOT hearing, the pacing and actions described make this a compulsive read.

"The stones are singing and I feel it . . . that I'm home . . . "

After an incident one summer, the book takes us to the near future, where Wilder is navigating college life and trying to write down his memories of Whistler Cottage. There he meets a friend who's obsession with that last summer rivals Wilder's own.

From there on, I was simply taken on a journey. The various points-of-view and characters (albeit unreliable narrators), propelled the story forward while leaving more questions than answers. It isn't until the very end--when all is said and done--that I was able to appreciate how the clues were provided throughout. I find it truly amazing how the author is able to get me so engrossed in a story--every time--that I fail to anticipate any of the "twists" in the novel until after they're revealed.

"Writer's block isn't being unable to write, I discover--it's being unable to feel . . ."

Another spectacular novel from an author who consistently delivers.

Highly recommended.

*Thank you NetGalley, for the arc.*

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Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward
4.5 stars

This book was so uniquely strange.

Sometimes it was so incredibly painful to try to wrap your brain around what was the reality of the narrative and what was just fiction wrapped inside of more fiction. All in all, I think this was about four books tucked inside four books, like a russian doll of literary crime thrillers and horror novels. It was meta to the max. In the end, the story and character journeys were intriguing enough to make it worthwhile to sort through all the entangled lines of plot, character, narrative, and story.

The setting was fabulous, the small seaside town in Maine with haunted caverns and whistling stone beaches will stay with me for some time. The story that persisted beneath the various lines of truth and fiction, the story of a trio of young friends who were marred by the crimes of their parents and the adults surrounding them, was heartfelt, emotionally complex, and nuanced. I truly enjoyed this book - it both challenged and entertained me, forcing me to think about the layers of storytelling, and the purpose through which we write and consume narratives.

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Here we have another unputdownable, unique, and thrilling read from Catriona Ward! I loved it even though I feel like I need to do a small re-read just to wrap my head around all the complexities that make up this amazing new novel! Highly recommended.

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Holy wow, this is an impressive piece of work; so much was packed in but in such an effortless way. I don't totally agree with it being a horror novel, instead I find it rather difficult to categorize. There are Gothic elements (and I fucking love a Gothic touch). It's definitely got a psychological thriller-y touch--the blur between reality and fiction becoming continuously less discernible.

I do kind of understand others' critiques of the story becoming over complicated towards the end, but it personally didn't bother me or take away from the story; I just felt like it played to the psychological element of the story.

I can see myself rereading this in the future, seeing as I had to urge to start again at page 1 immediately after finishing. Also, I couldn't put this down--I devoured the last 250ish pages in one sitting. I felt invested in the story and connected to the characters in a way that I don't typically get for other books I read. Thus far, one of my favorite reads of 2023. I have yet to read Sundial or The Last House on Needless Street but they have definitely moved up in my queue of books to read. I'll also noted that I liked this significantly more than Little Eve (although enjoyable, not close to how much I dug this one).

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"Fucked up will save you. Fucked up will set you free."

Looking Glass Sound started off feeling almost nostalgic; Wilder, Nat, and Harper's relationship reminded me a bit of all the kids' friendships in Stephen King's 'IT'. And similarly, it got weird and unsettling rather quick.

No exaggeration here, I think this is one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. If it was possible to give more than 5 stars, I think this has more than earned it. It was twisty and horrifying, and left me with my mouth hanging open not even 100 pages in. As soon as I thought I had it all figured out, the story would take another twist and leave me questioning everything I thought I understood. Right up until the last page, there are mysteries to be solved and details to be revealed. I can see myself rereading this in the near future, but nothing will match the first read and uncovering all the secrets Looking Glass Sound holds.

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Catriona Ward’s new novel is odd (as usual) literary, layered, and dark. We start with the unpublished memoir of Wilder Harlow whose story starts in the summer of 1989. What follows is a twisting shock of a story. Who is the Dagger Man of Whistler Bay? How will Wilder’s story play out? You couldn’t guess if you tried. This won’t be for everyone I’m sure, but Catriona Ward always manages to suck me in and hold me captive.

4.5 stars from me.

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#LookingGlassSound #NetGalley
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an E-Arc copy of this novel. DO NOT SKIP THIS ONE! Even if you do not like horror you must try this one out! You won't regret it.

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One of the most unique aspects of "Looking Glass Sound" is its story structure. It's told from multiple points of view that occasionally seem to overlap and fold in on themselves, which allows the reader to piece together the story slowly, like solving a puzzle. This weaves together feelings of doubt and intrigue that build throughout the book.

Ward's writing is masterful, creating a vivid and unsettling atmosphere that lingers long after the book is finished. The characters are well-developed, and the slow reveal of their backstories and true nature adds depth and complexity to the story.

"Looking Glass Sound" is a haunting and atmospheric novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers and horror, definitely add it to your TBR list!

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Astonishing! What a journey! I found this to be an excellent exploration of grief, queer longing, identity, and so much more. The author has masterfully crafted a creepy ambiance filled with twists and mind games. I thought I had it, but everything got turned around at the end. Advance reader copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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𝙈𝙮 𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)

𝙈𝙮 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨:

So much to say here… I’m going to try to be as succinct as possible but even 12 hours after finishing this book my heads still spinning, so I’ll probably fail.

First, a note on formatting…

If you got this book from NetGalley and had it sent to your kindle, be aware that the formatting is off. Line breaks where there shouldn’t be, random 1’s and 0’s, etc. I think it actually added to my enjoyment of this book, because I had to read it super closely instead of just letting myself zone into it, but it took me a bit to get used to it.

Now, the book itself…

If someone were to hand me this book, and I’d never heard of Catriona Ward and never read anything she wrote, I might have decided to put this one down after the first third. Sure, it was interesting, but in such a way that is pretty standard and can be found in many other gothic horror novels. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider the first third particularly “horror”.

But as it was, I knew better. And boy am I glad I did. This is my fifth novel by Ms. Ward. She was an auto-buy after Sundial. I would read the instructions on a shampoo bottle if she wrote them.

The twists, the mind-bending, the gender fluidity, the absolute “wtaf is going on here”… this isn’t a book you can read once and move on with your life. I’ll have to read it at least twice to even have a minor grasp. But I will, and happily.

Catriona Ward has earned her place on my shelf among Stephen King and Chuck Wendig. I absolutely cannot wait to see where her imagination takes me next.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Nightfire and Catriona Ward for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Looking Glass Sound will be available in the US on August 8th 2023.

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This is an incredibly hard book to review. It is a complicated puzzle and just when you think you have it figured out it throws you onto a completely different path. What starts out as a mystery quickly becomes more of a gothic horror. The characters complex, flawed and broken. They are searching for their own resolutions to an event that connects them in a deep and heartbreaking way. Friendship, longing, secrets, acceptance, grief, and betrayal all play a role in their lives.

If what I said above intrigues you please give the book a chance. At times you will be confused, it is written from multiple points of view. The timeline does skip around. But I promise if you stick with it you will be blown away. At first I thought I hated it and wanted to throw it across the room but I would wake up in the morning dying to find out where the story was going to take me next. There are so many layers to this book. I found myself thinking about this book hours and days later piecing together what I had read previously. It is definitely worth a second read for me which I rarely do.

I will not spoil this book for you by writing an in-depth review. You will just have to read it for yourself. Without telling you too much, this story follows Wilder, Nat and Harper, three friends who are linked by a discovery they made one summer.

Thank you NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for the advance copy for review.

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Looking Glass Sound lulls you with the setting and circumstances of a coming-of-age experience that takes place among three friends over the course of an ill-fated summer in the late 80s. It's one of those stories that softly strangles with a fraught, undefined sense of doom and vague, looming dread that has nothing to do with horror but rather the sweetly unbearable, eerily desperate poignancy of the passage of time, how hope and youth and friendship and loyalty will never feel the same again after you cross a certain threshold. It becomes a kind of fever dream, turned around and bewildering, where the people and their stories keep changing, moving, slipping from your grasp; nothing’s as you thought, and maybe you never properly understood the stakes of the story to begin with--or even whose story it really was. Circuitous and labyrinthine in its leading one towards and away from the truth, depending on whose truth it was, Looking Glass Sound left me with the most breathtakingly frustrating and beautiful ache in my heart, and honestly, it's all I could want in a book by Catriona Ward.

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I don’t know how she does it…. But she does it every single time!
You never know what you’re going to get. But it doesn’t matter because when you open a Ward novel up you know you’re going to be sucked down a deep dark hole that you never want to climb out of. She is a true masterful storyteller and her stories never ceases to amaze me.

Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward kept me on the edge of my seat.
Her descriptive writing style, and the way she creates such an hair-raising atmosphere in her stories, is mind blowing.
She is a master at suspense.
I was so invested in the story, I wasn't ready for this one to end.
The writing and story was mesmerizing and it’s proof that Ward is brilliant at what she does.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Thank You NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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Wow, I want to first say I thought the voice acting for this audiobook was excellent, it helped create a moody immersive mood while listening. Thank you MacMillan for the review copy and also to Tor publishing for so kindly giving me a ebook copy to review (both via NetGalley). I am torn which format was best, I listened to some and read other parts, particularly the later parts as I wanted to be reading Ward's work. I personally loved the story starting off in adolescence and using that time of awkward self discovery and change, and the theme of a summer that changes you, to move into a bigger story that involved really grasping what had happened and how magic and secrets and revenge and the messiness of adolescent friendships and hopes/dreams all became entangled in a search for The Dagger Man.

You likely have to be a literary horror fan to really like this one or a reader open to a meta horror, book within a book plot, that is I think what Chasing the Boogeyman wanted to be (side note, disliked that book a lot). This is perfect for Ward fans of course and readers who like Sarah Gailey (just like home), Chuck Wendig, Stephen Graham Jones, and other similar dark slow paced horror that unsettles the reader and unfolds slowly and eerily until a climax.

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I loved this book. I had never read anything by this author before and I found this story so compelling. I was so invested in the characters. I’m going to look at this authors previous books because I loved the writing so much.

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Catriona never ceases to amaze me with her writing style, imagination, and overall story telling. I've come to expect the weird from her novels and this isn't any different. I thoroughly enjoyed how each character had their time to shine and own character arc. Plus this was creepy as hell.

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Ward has done it again and delivered a twisty, psychological horror that keeps you invested to the very end. Her fucked-up brand of horror is right up my alley. So many elements I love in a book! I enjoyed the first half of the book more but I do like how everything came together in the end. It’s hard to review this without spoiling anything so I won’t say much but do recommend going in blind. Be prepared to be very confused and strap in for a ride down multiple character POVS, a non-linear timeline, and a distorted sense of reality.

If you enjoyed her previous books, you’ll love this one. If you haven’t really enjoyed her previous books but like how Stephen King or Ronald Malfi do coming-of-age horror or books within books like The Last Word by Taylor Adams, then definitely give this a chance!

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Rating: 4.5/5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (Rounded up to 5 Stars)

There it is, that living rent free in my head after finishing it feeling! This was what I’ve been waiting for.

This book is told in multiple points of view and in multiple timelines? I question that because at times it can be a bit confusing. Let me explain. This is told in the perspective of our main characters Wilder’s memoir, through Wilder in the present and through Pearl.

The atmosphere of this one was on point - right from the start I felt so drawn to this one, I couldn’t put it down. I was transferred to Whistler Bay. This is a gothic thriller, a horror, a mystery, a romance, and even a coming of age story. There are so many layers to it. There are points where you will be so confused, parts where it is absolutely riveting and parts that are a bit on the slow side. Let me tell you though, when it all comes together, and it most certainly does, your mind will be absolutely blown. Without a doubt worth the read. I wasn’t a huge fan of when Wilder began to question his sanity but how everything ties together makes it all worth it. Now that I know all of the pieces to the great big mystery of this book, I would like to venture back to this one and see what else I could pick up on!

The narration of Christopher Ragland and Katherine Fenton was absolute perfection. They complimented one another, making this a very enjoyable and easy read! I was happy to have both the ALC and eARC to be able to utilize together because there is a lot to this story.

Catriona Ward has a way of writing that is just so captivating, so hauntingly beautiful that you can’t help but get sucked into the story. She is so descriptive that you are transported into it and next thing you know its 5am and you have stayed up wayyyy past your bedtime.

Calling all Catriona Ward fans, to all my horror fans, to all my gothic thriller fans - this one is great and definitely one that I will be recommending for a while. Looking Glass Sound comes out on August 8th, be sure to grab a copy!

Huge thank you to @negalley, @tornightfire, @macmillinaudio and @catrionaward for the ALC and eARC in exchange for my honest review.

#netgalley #netgalleyearc #netgalleyalc #electronicadvancedreaderscopy #advancedlistenerscopy #horror #thedaggerman #serialkiller #memoir #stealingstories #abookwithinabook #witchcraft #folklore #whistlerbay #maine #fourandahalfstarread #greatstory #confusingattimes #mindblowingrevelation

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Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward
Well…Catriona did it again. She is the queen of the plot twist.
I LOVED this book! I was hooked while reading it and didn’t want to put it down because I just had to know what was happening. This is the type of book that would make the perfect read while staying in a cabin in the middle of no where. It’s creepy in all the best ways.
There’s not much I can say about the plot without giving away spoilers, but what I can say is you will appreciate every twist and turn. This is one of those books that after finishing I immediately wanted to pick up again so I could see all the clues that I missed during my first read. I will be buying a finished copy once this book is published.
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Looking Glass Sound is a tough one to talk about with saying too much.
So I'm just going to say that Catriona Ward has quickly become one of my favourite authors. The way that she has of being able to tell such multilayered stories is absolutely wild.
This is the story of Wilder and the friends he meets during a fateful summer when he's 16 years old. Now, in the present, he's writing a memoir about that time and as time goes on the fabric of what's real and what isn't becomes thinner and thinner.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it.
For more info please find attached my spoiler free youtube review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL-EeraVhnE

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5 Stars!

It's a complete and utter shame that I have been sleeping on Catriona Ward! Wowza! What an impressive writer with an amazingly complicated mind!

This story has it all! It begins in the 1980's, there's a vacation home, coming of age friendships, the haves and have nots, a serial killer, ghosts, and magic. UH! I loved it all! This story will bend your mind around itself and then back again.....I finished it a few days ago and I'm still thinking about the characters.

Run out and grab yourself a copy!!

A special thank you to NetGalley, Tor Publishing Group, and Catriona Ward.

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