As soon as you crack open Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street, you know something’s very wrong. More than biting into a nice apple and finding a worm, this book is like unexpectedly stepping on the worm barefoot, only to find out the worm isn’t a worm – and I mean that in the best way possible. Horror fiction can scare readers, make them anxious, or upset their stomachs, but the most powerful narratives in the genre manage to create an unshakable sense of unease, and that’s exactly what this novel does. Everything in The Last House on Needless Street is old, dirty, or broken. The same applies to the psyches of its characters. The creepy dilapidation of the outside world mirrors their mental state. No one is who they appear to be, a fact that is lost on them. Ward is a talented storyteller, and she shows that here. The atmosphere in this novel is depressing and the strangeness can lead to confusion – “‘The first time I tried to run,’ she says, ‘he took my feet. He broke them between two boards with a mallet. The second time I tried, you came out of my mind'” – but the experience is unlike anything else out there, and that makes it a must-read for those who like the kind of labyrinthine narratives that pull the rug out from under you, sending you tumbling into a dark, dark room.