Review: Little Eve – Catriona Ward

Review: Little Eve – Catriona WardLittle Eve
by Catriona Ward
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Genres: Horror
Pages: 288
Source: NetGalley

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

From Catriona Ward, author of The Last House on Needless Street, comes the Shirley Jackson Award-winning novel Little Eve, a heart-pounding tale of faith and family, with a devastating twist

“A great day is upon us. He is coming. The world will be washed away.”

On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth.

The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction.

A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong.

And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered.

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4 stars icon Historical icon

Historical fiction is usually not my jam, but when I read the blurb and saw who it was by, I couldn’t resist taking a chance. My first book by this author was Sundial, which I loved for its complicated family relationships, atmospheric setting and twists. Little Eve has all of that plus a deliciously gothic setting!

For almost as long as she can remember, Eve has lived on the remote isle of Altnaharra. Led by Uncle, she and the other children spend their days gathering food and pretending to be normal when they must attend the village school with the Impure. Unlike them, they worship the Adder, who will come from the sea and remake the world. But when a murder in the village attracts unwanted attention, Eve is forced to reckon with everything she believes in.

It’s hard to say too much about this book without ruining bits of the plot, and this is definitely one of those books where you want to come in with as little foreknowledge as possible. Set against the backdrop of World War I, it’s the kind of cult horror novel that starts with a teen protagonist who has no understanding that her upbringing is, well, strange. Eve is an interesting character, protective of the bond between herself and Dinah, an older girl who she considers a sister, though that word is forbidden on the isle. Fascinated by Uncle’s tale of how the Adder will return, she’s a true believer who yearns for recognition from him – and the power that comes with it.

“What you are saying doesn’t make sense,” I say. “Why would I invent the eye?”
“To satisfy the great need that lies at the heart of us all.”
“Which is?”
“To be loved. To belong.”

Much like Sundial, this book explores the complicated bonds of family and love. Eve longs for Uncle’s approval, even as he harshly disciplines her for the slightest misstep. But it’s the relationship between Eve and Dinah that carried that book for me. From comforting each other over nightmares to holding on to secrets, they’re as close as sisters, both starved for affection. The isolation of Altnaharra deepens the bond between them while Uncle’s machinations also force them against each other for their own survival.

After the initial shocking scene, the plot is a slow unwinding of terrors, one after the other. The twists, when they come, are horrifying. There’s enough hints about each in the text to give you an inkling in advance of what’s about to happen, but the reality is always so much more disturbing than expected.

Overall, a very good slow burn gothic horror, perfect for October!

Content notes: View Spoiler »

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