YOU CAN’T ESCAPE THE DESERT
YOU CAN’T ES
Rob fears for her daughters. For Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. For Annie, because she fears what Callie might do to her. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her 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 afraid of her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely. To tell her secrets about her past that both disturb and excite her. And Callie is beginning to wonder if only one of them will leave Sundial alive…
From the bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street come a stunning thriller exploring the toxicity of the mother – daughter bond, and the power of the past to twist the present.
Thank you to Tandem Collective and the publisher for my finished copy of Sundial, I had seen it causing a stir over on Instagram so was delighted to be selected to take part in a readalong.
What to say about this book? Rob and Irvine are married and have two daughters, Callie and Annie. Very quickly we are alerted to an undercurrent in the relationship between the pair and almost immediately the book has some sinister undertones. Told predominantly from the perspective of Rob, we get a sense of Irvine as someone really quite unpleasant – unfaithful, controlling and threatening. With lots going on in this family and the children, Callie and Annie at the centre there is a real tension, over the children, over the future and over each other.
Rob is frightened, she is right to be but she is unsure if it is Irvine or Callie who is the most dangerous. Needing to get away as she perceives a threat to her younger daughter, Annie, she takes Callie to her childhood home in the desert, Sundial. There the story takes on a then and now timeline going back to Rob’s complicated childhood.
The was a gripping read, easy to follow with a small cast of characters. I loved the twisty plot and the uncertainty that emerged when Callie and Rob were at Sundial together – unclear who was a threat to who. The backstory was creepy with some ‘cult vibes’ and contributed to this book being a brilliant but uncomfortable read. Callie’s perspective featured while at Sundial and this was useful in offering insight into her behaviours. The use of the fiction story within the book was interesting and as the story concluded it made more sense and while I wasn’t certain it added much I quite liked this means of telling the story.
A brilliant book, my second from Viper Books ( read my review of The Appeal here) and I am immensely impressed… most definitely recommended by me.
About the Author
Catriona Ward was born in Washington, DC and grew up in US, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen and Morocco. She read English at the University of Oxford and spent several years working as an actor in New York, then took an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Ward won the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel in 2016 for her first novel, Rawblood, and again in 2018 for Little Eve, making her the first woman to win the prize twice. Little Eve also went on to win the prestigious Shirley Jackson Award for best novel, and was a Guardian Best Book of 2018. The Last House on Needless Street was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, a Times and Kindle bestseller and a Times and Observer Thriller of the Month. Her next novel, Looking Glass Sound, will be published by Viper in 2023.