About the Book 
She comes in the night. She looks into your eyes. One by one, she has taken us all.

For generations they have died young, and now fifteen-year-old Iris and her father are the last of the Villarca line. Confined to their lonely mansion on Dartmoor, they suffer their disease in isolation. But Iris breaks her promise to hide from the world and dares to fall in love.

It is only then that they understand the true horror of the Villarca curse, the curse of the bone-white woman who visits in the night, leaving death in her wake.
Winner of BEST HORROR NOVEL (August Derleth Award) at British Fantasy Awards 2016



Ever since first being pulled into Catriona Ward’s world with The Last House on Needless Street I have been an avid reader of her books, so I thought it was about time that I ventured into some of her earlier works.

Rawblood is Catriona Ward’s first book. It is a sumptuous gothic horror novel set in the wilds of Dartmoor. The book tells the story of Iris, a young girl who lives with her father, who she lives with in the lonely manor of Rawblood. The family home of the Villarcas and is very. much the lifeblood of the family. They find themselves inexorably drawn back to the family home, wherever they are in the world. Rawblood sustains and rejuvenates them. However, linked to the Villarcas is a curse.

Initially we learn that it is a genetic condition called ‘horror autotoxicus’ which is brought on by extremes of emotion. This means that Iris has to love by a set of rules that her father has devised, which mainly revolves around staying isolated from other people, with the exception of her father.

However, we know that no one can live by these rules and it is not until Iris becomes involved with Tom that we see the results of these rules being broken, and we discover the true curse of Rawblood and the effects that it has on the family, for the Villarcas are haunted and are doomed to die young.

Initially, the story is split into two points of view, that of Iris, which follows her as she grows from a precocious young girl. Mixed with this is the voice of Charles Danforth which is basically an epistolary story told through the medium of diary entries as he visits his friend Alphonse (who is Iris’s father) at Rawblood. This provides us with some background to how Alphonse is the way that he is.

The story then fractures further as the story progresses as we delve into more points of vie from the Villarca family and we gain more insight into the events at Rawblood. These events chart the story of Leopold and Mary, Iris’s grandparents and also the meeting of Alphonse and Iris’s mother Meg. Ultimately it tells the story of generations of Villarcas and how they came to be cursed throughout the ages.

As usual, Catrina Ward’s writing is breath taking. She writes some of the most beautiful prose that I have ever read. It is at once sumptuous but can equally convey the horror of the situation.

My only complaint comes from the second half of the book as the story shatters to tell the story of the different members of the Villarca family. I felt that it lost some of its impetus as the tale is split into what feels like a series of short vignettes about the family. However, this is Catrina Ward and she can write the most exquisite of tales, but ultimately I felt that it left you feeling a little detached from the story as a whole.

The story is finally pulled together when it reaches its climax and you learn the reason for the haunting, which I have to say is just superb, and although I did have an inkling for the reason for the story, its execution is utterly breath taking.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Rawblood and think that if you haven’t read this earlier book of Catriona Wards to go back and read it.

Next up for me is Little Eve









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