REVIEW: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

KeyTitle: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Pages: 352
Published by: Harvill Secker
Publication date: 8th August 2019
Genre: Thrillers & Mystery
Format: Hardback
Amazon UK – Waterstones

Synopsis:

What is really haunting Rowan? 

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, 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 her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

My review:

If you’re looking for a creepy book to read for Halloween, look no further! Ruth Ware’s latest book, The Turn of the Key, is another psychological thriller with a rather gothic feel to it. Rowan Caine believes she has found her dream job – a live-in nanny to four children with an unreal salary – but she soon finds out that things are not as they seem. In the past 14 months, four nannies have resigned and Rowan is determined not to do the same but it starts to feel like she is being purposefully driven away.

Ruth has definitely come a long way since her first psychological thriller, In a Dark, Dark Wood. In my opinion, her writing has gone from strength to strength and I think this is up there with my favourites of hers. I loved how the story was told in a series of letters to a solicitor. I don’t recall reading a book in this format before and it worked really well. It piqued my interest right from the start and was such an intriguing way to tell a story. We are transported right back to the start when Rowan first applies for the job; is invited to an interview; and then moves in after accepting the job offer. However, it seems that this job was too good to be true as everything then takes a disastrous turn.

This is where I enjoyed the book the most and thought the plot was at its strongest. It’s filled with some pretty hair-raising scenes ranging from creepy dolls, strange noises and a freaking smart house that appears to have a mind of its own. I’m so easy to scare and the small things are the worst for me so this book definitely creeped me out most of the time. I found it difficult to put down and was completely compelled to read on despite having other things I needed to do. It really sucks you into the story and sends shivers down your spine.

I’m not a patient person when it comes to children and frankly, being a nanny or babysitting is my worst nightmare so I really felt for Rowan in some of these scenes. Despite how hard she was trying with the children, they were extremely bratty and not nice to her at all. That might have something to do with their upbringing though because their mother, Sandra, was a pretty weird character. She used their smart house to spy on the children and talk to them through speakers. Honestly there was zero privacy in that house and it was incredibly creepy. Still, some of their behaviour, especially from Maddie, was downright unacceptable and I’d never have kept my cool. I was rather surprised though by how Rowan reacted at times considering all the experience she has and I became suspicious of her character at times. I thought nannies are supposed to be patient when children throw temper tantrums but Rowan had small bursts of anger that even I found shocking.

Unfortunately there was a couple things I was disappointed by. Normally foreshadowing in any book goes right over my head but in The Turn of the Key there’s quite a lot of it to the point that it becomes obvious something wasn’t right and I was a little disappointed by that. I think it would have been more shocking if I didn’t see it coming but I still felt a little smug that I’d noticed something was off.

Secondly, the ending of Ruth’s books normally completely floor me because they’re so shocking and unexpected. Unfortunately the ending of The Turn of the Key fell a little flat for me. It felt unfinished as I was left with lots of unanswered questions and a bit of confusion about what had happened. That massive buildup didn’t match that ending and I honestly wanted more. 

Despite my disappointment, it was definitely worth the read and one to keep in mind for future Halloween reads. It was a truly creepy read and everything – from the characters, to the plot, to the house – was wrapped up in mystery. I can’t wait to see what she writes next and I’m loving the gothic theme in her books lately. If you like psychological thrillers with a haunting twist, I’d recommend this one!

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