Excerpt: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

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In a boarded-up house on a dead-end street at the edge of the wild Washington woods lives a family of three.


A teenage girl who isn’t allowed outside, not after last time.

A man who drinks alone in front of his TV, trying to ignore the gaps in his memory.

And a house cat who loves napping and reading the Bible.


An unspeakable secret binds them together, but when a new neighbor moves in next door, what is buried out among the birch trees may come back to haunt them all.


From Catriona Ward, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and the August Derleth Award, comes The Last House on Needless Street, a book Stephen King calls “a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end.” The novel hits shelves on September 28th from Nightfire.


We’re thrilled to be sharing three excerpts today – read the first part, from Ted’s point of view, over at, then read part two, from Olivia the cat’s point of view, over on the Nightfire blog, and then below to read part three, from Lauren’s point of view.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of The Last House on Needless Street, on sale 09/28/2021.



Please come and arrest Ted for murder, and other things. They have the death penalty in this state, I know that. He makes me do my social studies homework. When I’m done, I’m going to try to throw this cassette out the mail slot. I hope someone finds it.

Maybe I will do it to him, maybe he will do it to me. Out we will go like a little candle, leaving nothing but the peaceful dark. I kind of look forward to it. I am made with pain, for it, of it. I don’t have any other purpose, except to die.

He doesn’t think I can hear him when I’m down there, but I can. Or maybe he forgets I exist as soon as he closes the door. He’s such a dork with his dumb recipes. He didn’t invent the strawberry and vinegar sandwich thing. Even I know that, from the cooking network. I heard him talking to the cat about making a—what?—a feelings diary. SUCH a dork. But that’s how I got this idea, so I guess it was lucky. I’m not what they call book smart but I can make plans.

I found the tape recorder in the hall closet. It’s the only closet he doesn’t keep locked. I guess because there’s nothing in here, just piles of old newspapers. But then I found the machine, with the tape in and I thought, Here’s my chance.

I’m sitting here right now in the dark, so I can put everything back where I found it, if he comes. The tape is really old, with a yellow-and-black label. It had her writing on it. Notes. I didn’t listen to it; I know what’s on there. There’s a hot feeling in my tummy. I feel good about recording over her. I’m afraid, too, though.

I wonder what it’s like being a regular person—not being afraid all the time. Maybe everyone is afraid all the ti— Oh God, he’s coming n—


Excerpted from The Last House on Needless Street, copyright © 2021 by Catriona Ward.


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