What I Loved:
The Turn of the Key is a re-imagining / re-telling of The Turn of the Screw. I haven’t read the Turn of the Screw, but I definitely want to now! I loved how Ruth Ware was able to take an existing story and make it her own. The book was filled with suspenseful moments and chilling thoughts. I loved her ability to creep me out in this story!
How I Felt:
The Turn of the Key is my FAVORITE Ruth Ware book so far. At this point, I have read four of her books and I can’t wait to grab the next one. This is Ruth Ware’s most recent release, published in August 2019. After reading all of these books by her, I really feel that she is developing as a writer and finding a way to make her books more and more suspenseful!
Quick overview of My Thoughts:
* Great overall plot and story
* Wonderfully suspenseful moments that make you want the light on
* I would have liked just one more chapter
* Some character decisions left me scratching my head
The Characters: The main character in this book is Rowan, and I felt that she had some really nice character development. I was fully connected with her, and really just kept thinking, “Get out of this house Rowan!”. So, I found that Ruth Ware managed to get me worried for the main character and I enjoyed that.
There are, of course, other characters in this story, but they are peripheral for a lot of the book. They come and go and I did not feel a need for the same amount of character information for them, so I didn’t mind that there was not as much time spent on them. Jack, one of the characters felt so mysterious and some of his secrets, I couldn’t quite understand why he was keeping them. I understand it made the story spookier, but I didn’t understand his motivation for doing it. I also just want to parent shame for a second. What parent hires a new nanny and just leaves her kids? There are a few things in the mother’s ENORMOUS book of how-to-care-for-my-kids that I felt should have been given verbally instead of just expecting Rowan to read it all. I don’t want any spoilers, so I won’t tell you what those were.
The Writing: Ruth Ware’s story-telling choice for The Turn of the Key was such a great idea. The entire story is told through a letter that Rowan is writing to a lawyer. She is explaining what happened and why she needs help. The letter-writing grabbed me right from the start! I loved how the story unfolded. We know right from the beginning that a child has died and that Rowan is in jail for the death. She then goes back and starts from the beginning in her letter and I loved it.
The suspense that Ruth Ware was able to bring to this book was wonderful. I could feel the goosebumps and fear that Rowan had as all these things keep happening. There is one scene where Rowan is sleeping on a couch instead of her room and I swear, I had to put the book down and check under my bed (HAHA!). You’ll totally understand why when you read that part of the book. Well done Ruth Ware!
The Plot: Rowan wants a new nanny position and how posted for one at Heatherbrae House. Her first visit for the interview goes well, but she finds a drawn picture with a weird message and before she leaves one of the children warns her that the “ghosts wouldn’t like it” if she came to stay. I think this would have been it for me, “no thanks”. Rowan perseveres though. She is offered and accepts the position.
As soon as she moves in, the mother and father are off to a conference leaving Rowan alone with the children. There are so many things that make the story suspenseful from here. The odd walking noises that are “upstairs” when there isn’t actually another floor above Rowan, the very “Smart” home that keeps functioning improperly, keys that go missing, etc. It’s filled with so many weird and creepy moments. It’s wonderful!
The Ending: The ending was fantastic. It was gripping and mysterious, and a bit heartbreaking. I would have loved just a little more information because there were a few loose strings. However, it’s always fun to not know and have those discussions with your bookish friends too, and the ending does make the book more mysterious.
Content Warnings: Child death.
Overall: I enjoyed this book for its suspenseful story. I could not put this book down and needed to know how it ended and just what was going on in this house!
To Read or Not To Read:
If you are a fan of Ruth Ware, you should ABSOLUTELY read The Turn of the Key. If you haven’t read Ruth Ware before, this was worth the read. If you enjoy the little (and big) creepy things that build a good suspenseful story, you’ll enjoy this book.
Where to Find This Book:
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware is available at these sites.
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.
Just the Facts:
- The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
- Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller
- Page Count: 352 pages
- Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
- Pub Date: August 6, 2019
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