The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward – The Housemaid by Sarah A. Denzil #AudioBookReviews


TheLastHouseOnNeedlessStreet audio


This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter, Lauren, and his cat, Olivia, in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve come across this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think….

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Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for this or maybe it was because of the animal cruelty (of birds) described in the first chapters of the novel but it wasn’t a good start and it ended up being quite a challenging audiobook, even though I quite liked the narration. The Last House on Needless Street was soooo weird for sooo long! I really struggled in the beginning and if it hadn’t been because I had already heard so much about it and seen this novel on favorite lists I’m not sure if I had continued. But perseverance is my middle name (ahem) so I’m happy I finally know the secret of this book. The plot is original although it went very slowly and didn’t make much sense at times what was going on. There are three voices in the novel and Ted Bannerman is this strange guy who lives in a delipated and boarded up house next to a forest. Olivia the indoor cat loves Ted and makes observations now and again. Then there’s Lauren, Ted’s daughter, who isn’t always there but when she is her moods are often eratic. I had guessed the clue of the story early on but not the exact extent of it, how encompassing it would turn out to be. In the end the author made it even more difficult with the stairs, the basement, the colours of the rugs and it almost became a bit too much to digest. I like seeing things in my mind but it was impossible to conjure up how this would look on screen or in real life.

I understand why so many readers praise it and talk about it so much because it really is special and the idea behind it – as the author explains in the afterword – is great but if you ask me if I want to read/listen to it again then the answer is no.


The Housemaid


Housemaid wanted.

Skills required: discretion, and the willingness to go the extra mile.

It seems like the perfect job. Great wages, accommodation provided and all located within the walls of Highwood Hall, a stunning stately home owned by the Howard family. Not many little girls dream of becoming a maid, but this is an opportunity for me to get back on my feet. And for me to revisit my past….

But I soon realise I’ve made a mistake. The strict housekeeper, Mrs Huxley, watches my every move, emerging from the shadows when least expected. Lord Howard’s son, Alex, takes an interest in me, and as a former addict, I find myself drawn to him because I know he’s bad for me. There’s a general atmosphere of unease at Highwood Hall, from the narrow tunnels laced throughout the sprawling house, to the abandoned north wing, rumoured to be haunted. It’s easy to imagine the secrets hidden within these walls, like the secrets I hold close.

On my first day, I receive a mysterious package. I open up the pretty gift box to find a miniature doll version of me trapped inside a dollhouse. In this scene I’m dead, lying in a pool of red paint at the bottom of the perfectly recreated staircase. Someone sent this threatening diorama to me, but who even knows I work at the hall? And what do they want?

I know only one truth: my perfect job is turning into my perfect nightmare.

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I enjoyed The Housemaid in the format of an audiobook. The narrator Sophie Rundle spoke with clear pronounciation and had a pleasant voice and I’d certainly not mind listening to her again in the future.

The story takes place in the present but I sometimes really felt I was transported to the Victorian era and the modern references almost felt out of place. I did get used to this unusual blend and I became fascinated quite soon with the strange diorama that turned up on Ruby’s first day. Who was it from and what was its purpose? Did someone want to see her gone before she had even started? There were definitely strange things going on in that house and it was all very atmospheric.

I really enjoyed the first three parts of the book but I found it harder to enjoy the final part. The characters were interesting and believable, but then at the end it all seemed a little far fetched to me. There were some shocking truths in the end that I hadn’t entirely seen coming so there is that but it unfolded as if someone had pulled a plug and there was not enough explanation to make me believe what I read. I think I would have liked it more if Ruby had found out more gradually so the pacing would have been more consistent with the rest of the novel and motives and thoughts could be more developed so it would sound more believable.

All in all it was not a bad novel per se and I see the potential of this author’s writing so I might give another novel a go in the future if I have the opportunity.


14 thoughts on “The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward – The Housemaid by Sarah A. Denzil #AudioBookReviews

    • And here I thought I was the last person to read it. I can hardly believe you haven’t already read this! This plot has been done before but not as big and complicated. It’s what makes this book stand out but is also a little challenging. I can’t predict whether you’d love it or not, I think it could go either way. Thank you Yvonne! ❤️


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