I became a late fan of Ruth Ware’s after reading The Death of Mrs. Westaway, so I picked up this one as well. Sadly, the ends didn’t make the means for me.
The Turn of the Key starts off with Rowan. She’s currently imprisoned for the murder of a little girl that she was taking care of. It then launches into Rowan’s story of how she came to meet this little girl and what happened. She recently landed a job as a live-in nanny with the Elincourts and their beautiful home in the Scottish highlands. Their home is bedecked with the latest technology making their house the Happy Home that takes care of everything from building grocery shopping lists to opening the front door. Immediately after interviewing with the Elincourts, she gets the job and heads on her way up to Scotland and live with this family.
However, the moment she gets there, the girls she’s nannying tell her that there’s ghosts and a mysterious girl who was murdered by the previous owner. Nervous about the rumors, Rowan starts to hear footsteps above her head, things go strangely out of place, and the girls don’t help with figuring out the truth. But as the scary noises and bumps in the night persists, Rowan starts to investigate what is causing these problems to finally find who the real killer is.
The whole book is written as a giant letter to a lawyer Rowan would like to represent her and her case. In these letters, she divulges everything to him including how this little girl ended up dying. I thought that reading letters from someone would create an unreliable narrator, but that’s the least of this book’s issues.
First off, it’s incredibly slow. I’ve read Ruth Ware before and I know that she’s a slow burner. She loves to suspend that thrill all the way until the very end, but I found myself really frustrated about 75% in the book and seeing that not much has happened. She does include her little hints and suspenseful moments to keep you going, but I think that if you’re really invested in the story and you want to know how the little girl died, then it’ll be motivation enough to read until the end.
That said, I was not happy about the ending. I don’t want to talk too much about this because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but let’s just say that when the truth was finally revealed, I yelled “WAIT WHAT?!” My husband was so concerned by my reaction he stepped out of the other room and asked me if everything was okay. No, everything wasn’t okay.
On those two points alone, I felt like I could give this 2 stars, but after the shock of my initial reaction wore down I thought some more on this and realized some things.
First off, I really liked how Ruth Ware just straight up messed with us. You have to give her props for leading you in one direction and then sidelining you so hard you didn’t even see it coming.
Secondly, the suspense was incredible. Honestly, I was on the edge of my seat with every little nugget Ruth Ware gave us. While you can probably get upset with the extensive drawn out descriptions of their daily life, those pockets of information and the closer Rowan got to the truth really had me biting my nails. The atmospheric suspense made you really feel like you were there experiencing everything alongside Rowan.
So where does that leave me with my review? Well, in the middle. When I think about this book on some levels it was amazing. On other levels, it could definitely use with more editing. But when I think about the overall experience, I did read till the end. Ruth Ware did get my heart rate up and I did want to know what happened. It might have been a middle-of-the-road book for me, but it does have merits within it that made me finish the book.
I received a copy of this book from Gallery Books for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.