All Rob ever wanted was a normal life.
Nothing like her childhood, growing up in the lonely, wild Mojave Desert on her family’s ranch, Sundial. Surrounded by dogs, coyotes, and research assistants.
For a while, it seemed like Rob got her wish: A husband, two daughters, the white picket fence, and margaritas with the neighbors. But when a frightening accident in her home reveals a disturbing secret in her oldest daughter’s bedroom, Rob knows her luck has run out. What’s buried out at Sundial could never stay a secret forever, and Rob must risk one last trip out there to protect her family’s future.
Hi and welcome to my review of Sundial!
Well… You never know where you might end up with a Catriona Ward novel, do you. I’m rather fond of dark literature but honestly, Sundial kinda made me feel like I’d been living in a cold, dank cellar and would never see sunlight again.
On the surface, Rob has it all: two beautiful daughters, a loving husband, a fulfilling job. It doesn’t take much digging, or much reading, to scratch that veneer: Rob’s husband is a cheating and gaslighting so-and-so and her eldest daughter Callie appears to have a rather unorthodox hobby. Rob herself doesn’t exactly come across as very stable either. Guys, I think we’ve found our dysfunctional family of 2022!
Rob, fearing for her youngest daughter’s safety, decides to take her eldest to Sundial, her family home in the Mojave Desert. There’s more than just secrets buried at Sundial and Rob reckons that the answer in saving herself and her family is there.
Going back and forth between Callie and Rob’s present and past, we slowly learn more about this family, the dysfunctionality of it clearly goes back to when Rob was a kid herself, but the more I found out, the more questions I had, and Sundial made me wait until the final pages for the full picture, although I did figure out a few things along the way.
Sundial was a pageturner for me – give me secrets and I want to unravel them – but it was definitely not the easiest read. Literally all of these people are so messed up, I could barely wrap my head around it. This story evoked a feeling of claustrophobia and unease in me, and it was also very disturbing. Domestic violence and various degrees of abuse, both animal and child, both on and off page, are rife, so beware.
Like its predecessor, The Last House on Needless Street, Sundial is an original, unique horror story and essentially a game of smoke and mirrors. If you’re feeling a little bit jaded about thrillers and psychological horror, Sundial will snap you right out of it.
Massive thanks to Viper Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.
Sundial is out today in digital formats and hardcover, with the paperback to follow in October.