The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
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.
Dear Mr. Wrexham,
I know you don’t know me but please, please, please you have to help me.
The Turn of the Key is my second Ruth Ware novel having read The Death of Mrs. Westaway in July. While this thriller has a lot of strengths, I must admit I still preferred The Death of Mrs. Westaway. In fairness, it will be a difficult one to top!
There is no denying that Ruth Ware is a talented author who knows how to spin a story. No one can create an atmosphere quite like she can. In The Turn of the Key, she manages to make a smart home downright frightening! It is a unique and modern take on the haunted house and it was creepy to read. I thought that telling the story through letters was effective and she pulled it off flawlessly. Novels written in this way do not always work for me, but that was not the case here. The main character, Rowan, is unlikable and I appreciated that about her. She is flawed and hearing her honest thoughts about what it is like to work with children was refreshing. The fact that she is far from perfect makes you question her truthfulness all the more! There were some jaw-dropping twists that I did not see coming but in hindsight were definitely foreshadowed.
Where she loses me a little is in the pacing, not a lot happens in the first half and it seemed to drag more than I would expect from a mystery thriller. Part of me thinks I am just not a fan of this nanny trope that seems to be all the rage these days! Also, if you are someone who wants all the answers, this is not the book for you. The ending was so ambiguous, which I often like but not in my mysteries. The reason I read mysteries is to be confused and questioning things throughout the story and then to have all my questions answered in the end- not the case here. It does make for an interesting debate though.
I have mixed feelings on whether or not I would recommend it. It is not bad by any means, but it is not one that I would run out and buy. There are a lot of rave reviews on Goodreads so I would recommend checking out a few of those before deciding whether or not this is the book for you!
12 thoughts on “Review- The Turn of the Key”
I enjoyed her book, “In a Dark, Dark Wood.”
Is that her first one? I should really explore her backlist.
Looks like it’s her first stand-alone and that Ms. Ware has series books written under another name that come before that.
The blurb and first line were so good, it’s too bad the book didn’t live up to its promise. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Kristin.
It is a great first line. Ware does some interesting things with this thriller but I wanted more!
UGH! I’m so sorry you didn’t love it like I did. But I haven’t read much by her so maybe that’s why?
I didn’t really understand the rave reviews on this one, either. I thought all the “twists” were so obvious because there were soooo many clues dropped before the reveals. And it was slow paced. I think this author may just not be for me. Great review!
Thank you! The pacing is what really through me off with this one.
Great review! I found both this one and Mrs. Westaway a bit predictable, but I think I’m just getting too used to Ware’s style, as I’ve read all of her books! (If you loved Mrs. Westaway, I think you’d like In a Dark, Dark Wood as well!) Even so, I love the atmosphere and scenarios she creates so much that I find her books entertaining even if not the most surprising for me lately. I do agree that this starts at a slower pace, but I had a lot of fun with the eerieness later on!
Thank you! I would be curious to read something by her that is not a thriller. She’s a great writer but I would love so see something different from her.
That would be interesting- she does atmosphere and setting so well that I do wonder how she might apply it to another genre!
I wonder she is one of those authors where the first book you read of hers will always be your favourite!