‘Sundial’: cementing Catriona Ward’s place in my “favorite authors” list

June 30, 2022

TITLE: Sundial
AUTHOR: Catriona Ward
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 304pg
PUBLISHER: Tor Nightfire

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.

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Buddy read with the lovely Ashley! 💖

When people say something is “unthinkable,” what they usually mean is that they don’t want to think it. They are resistant to an idea. But that is not what unthinkable means. I know that, now. It means to be confronted with a thought so vast, dark and monstrous that it will not fit into any known shapes in your mind. It is poison and madness flowering behind your eyes.

When I read The Last House On Needless Street last year and it became one of my favorite reads of the year (perhaps my singular favorite, even), I worried that Catriona Ward could end up being one of those authors with whom I would have this shining, brilliant moment for one book, and then end up disappointed in the next. I think most readers know this specific sort of pain, and it’s what makes me a bit apprehensive whenever reading my second book from an author. Thankfully, those fears were entirely pointless, because Sundial has immediately cemented itself as one of my favorite books of 2022 and I’m already itching to read more from this author.

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?

Not only did I adore this book, but I feel comfortable saying Catriona Ward is a new favorite author for me and I’ll read anything she writes. I was constantly blown away by how gorgeous and strange the narrative voice was on its own in this story, alongside the atmospheric, intricate setting and the masterful twists — all executed by a cast of characters that, with one exception, were flawed and often terrible, yet bizarrely endearing. Rob and Callie, our two POV characters, have a laundry list of issues between the two of them, and yet I adored them both somehow (especially Callie).

I buried my old self at Sundial. We need to leave parts of Callie here, too.

Beyond gushing about the characters and the writing, there’s nothing I can say about the plot, because one thing Catriona Ward does so brilliantly is her twist-weaving and I wouldn’t dare spoil a single one of them (yes, there are several). Just trust me when I say that this book left me stunned and in awe, and I’m already desperately wanting to re-read it just so I can watch it all play out with the knowledge of how it ends. I adored every page of this book and highly recommend it.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →

animal suffering, animal cruelty, animal experimentation, animal death (most animal-related topics are alluded to and not explicitly described, but it is a near-constant theme throughout the book); child loss, miscarriage; family loss, grief; infidelity; spousal abuse (verbal, emotional, mental, and physical); child abuse (most of this is not explicitly described); drug addiction and abuse; murder; pregnancy; vomiting; violent thoughts and compulsions; medical trauma; child rape (very briefly alluded to)

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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. I ended up liking this but not nearly as much as Needless Street. Still, she’s an auto read author for me too😁

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