When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.
There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.
Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…
I haven’t requested a book of NetGalley in months but when I saw this I was like give to me!!! I just had to bag an ARC of this and I’m so glad I managed to get one! It was another really great novel from Ruth Ware! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I thought it was actually better than her previous books. It has such a gothic feel to it and really reminded me of The Woman in Black. It’s a story wrapped in mystery and suspense, it was definitely unputdownable!
I loved Hal, she was such a great and definitely relatable character. Her mother was a tarot card reader on Brighton pier but after she was killed in a hit and run car accident, Hal took over when she was only twenty one. The money isn’t great so of course, she is struggling to pay her bills, buy food and keep a roof over her head. She borrows money from a loan shark and is struggling to pay her debt back. There are scenes where they threaten her and smash her belongings to scare her into paying the money back. It was definitely a scary scene and Ruth did such a great job describing how menacing loan sharks are. I can’t even imagine coming home to find my flat had been broken into. What was once considered Hal’s safe place is safe no more and that is utterly terrifying for anyone. I really felt for Hal because she didn’t ask for any of this, she just had everything thrust upon her after devastating death of her mother.
After having her small flat trashed, Hal then receives a letter saying she has inherited a substantial amount of money. This was definitely my favourite part of the story because you could only imagine how torn Hal was. She is desperate for money, she is struggling to survive and she knows if she doesn’t pay her debt back, she’ll end up with broken bones. But at the same time, she doesn’t want to deceive an innocent family. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I was in Hal’s situation. It’s such a scary thing to imagine and it does open your eyes to the reality of the situation and make you realise how fortunate you really are. It’s horrible how this is a daily reality for some people and Ruth definitely wrote a very heart-wrenching and believable story.
I love how when Hal turned up at the house, she then got caught up in the middle of a family feud. But despite not even knowing she existed, they welcome her and fill her in on their childhood at the house and even with memories of her supposed mother! They might be made of money, but they were very kind and caring, especially towards Hal. Which made deceiving them even worse, naturally. I felt so bad for Hal because she had dug herself their hole and couldn’t get out of it, she was too deep with the family to turn back on them.
While she is staying there, she discovers that the house is filled with dark secrets and the family members she meets can only recall having lived their worst moments in this house. So of course Hal is intrigued and wants to find out more. As she delves deeper into the family’s past she discovers that there is so much mystery surrounding the family and the house. There’s a lot of major twists that happen when she arrives including when they are reading the will! I had no idea just how significant a role Hal would play in all of this and it was very exciting watching it all unfold! The pacing is very slow but you can feel it building and building and I was biting my nails in anticipation for this explosive ending I could feel brewing throughout!
The story is told from Hal’s point of view but then there are also occasional diary entries from an unknown person, you just know that it’s a girl writing them. The entries detail her time at the house and what goes on while she is there. At first I found this very jolting and confusing because I had no idea who this girl was and I found it frustrating because I didn’t have a clue what was going on and it felt very random. But at the end it all comes together and it felt like a eureka moment! Definitely wasn’t expecting all these twists and the ending completely threw me! What a bombshell that was!
I also love how significant the tarot cards were in the story. I was just expecting them to be a prop in the story, but they are so much more than that. Hal uses them when she is seeking advice or she is at a loss of what to do in certain situations. I love how she can hear her mother speaking to her as well when she uses the cards and how the cards tell a story. It was very awesome having them play such a prominent role throughout the book and I found them to be a very interesting part of the story.
Overall I really loved this book and Ruth just keeps getting better and better! She is definitely one of my favourite crime thriller writers because she just gets my heart racing and every ending of her books knocks me over. She writes incredible twists and even though she is only just coming out, I’m already excited to see what she has in store for us next!