"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes Ruth Ware's highly anticipated fifth novel. 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. Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware's signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time"--
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This book is twisted! Between the completely wired, gothic house, the weird owners, the poison garden and other creepy issues, this story had me on the edge of my seat. Which is shocking…I usually don’t like this format. It is told in letters to a solicitor by the nanny. Oh, did I mention the nanny is sitting in jail accused of killing one of her charges? Well! She is!
The only reason this book is not getting 5 stars is the ending. The end of this story does not fit the build up. It is rushed and completely unsatisfying. But, do not let that stop you! It is still a great read! You do not want to miss this sinister tale!
Rowan Caine is writing her lawyer from prison. She has been charged with the murder of a child in her care.
After answering an ad for a nanny with an extremely
What Rowan doesn't know is that everything on the surface is a complete facade and that she's actually stepping into a nightmare. There's constant surveillance from cameras that appear to be in every room, noises coming from the attic, a poisonous garden, and the children are certainly not the well-behaved girls that were at her interview. Rowan has also been mislead in that she's been left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the mysterious handyman, Jack Grant.
While maintaining her innocence for the crime of murder, she is forthcoming about the other mistakes she's made. She's admitted to lying to get the job and that she's not a good nanny, but she is most definitely not a murderer. So this begs the question, who is?
Ware's The Death of Mrs. Westaway was a Gothic gem and I was expecting more of that from this book. In this novel there is also a creepy Gothic Victorian. In fact, the house is not only the setting, but ends up being more of a character in the book. Other effective ominous elements were the poisonous garden, footstep noises, and the locked closet—these types of macabre nuances are where Ware excels in her execution.
The characters were intriguing, even the secondary and tertiary. From the opening, you can tell there is something not quite right where Rowan is concerned. Given that she's supposed to be a nanny, Rowan appears to be out of her element. I do however feel that Ware could have fleshed out the husband and wife more. I mean what kind of parents leave their three little girls—soon to be four when Rhiannon arrives home from boarding school—with a virtual stranger?
I loved that this was an epistolary novel. The letters were the perfect vehicle to deliver the story. Where the plot stalled was with the ending, especially given the extensive build up. This was a bit of a disappointment given that the narrative was a slow burn—with the pages and pages of the day-to-day childcare and feeding which got a bit mundane after a while—and the reader was not fully rewarded for their patience.
The cover image makes me wonder what's on the other side of the door and the title itself hints at things hidden away. The premise builds on that initial impression.....
Childcare worker Rowan is
We know that something has gone very, very wrong right from the beginning of the book. Rowan is writing a letter to a lawyer, explaining what happened and I was caught up in the tale immediately.
Rowan is left in charge of the four daughters right away as Mr and Mrs Elincourt must travel to a convention for work. This was unexpected for Rowan. And the children do not seem to want her there. But is it just the children? The house seems to have a mind of its own as well.....
Ruth Ware is a master at building the suspense. Everyday occurrences take on a malevolent air - items misplaced, unexplained drafts and noises and more. The tension grows and grows - and I found myself mentally shouting at Rowan to just leave the house. The movie equivalent of don't go in the basement applies to the attic in this case.
Ware's description of the house made it easy to imagine the setting. Making the house a 'smart' house adds a layer and more questions to the story. I appreciated the many what if's and possibilities afforded by the isolation and the electronics - and the history of the house and previous nannies. Let alone the family - there are secrets in this house, and Rowan hints at one in her own as well.
The ending provides a twist - one I hadn't thought of, but the finale wasn't the outcome I had imagined.
I chose to listen to The Turn of the Key. Imogen Church was the reader and she was brilliant! Her interpretation of Rowan's fear, frustration and anger are so well done. Listening drew me into Rowan's state of mind and amplified the tension. The description of events was so creepy - I will never hear the word 'creak' again without hearing her voice. I simply couldn't stop listening. I've said it before and I'll say it again - listening immerses me in a book. And The Turn of the Key was a standout! Well done!
The most significant area in which she misses this time around is the timing of the novel, and by timing I mean the year in which the story occurs. Set in 2014, one of the largest areas of confusion, wonder, and dread that Rowan faces in her new nanny position is the use of smart technology within the home. All electronics in the home run off an app and each room has a camera in it. Rowan struggles to master this technology, and it later becomes one of the reasons for her severe discomfort within the home. Unfortunately, such technology is now commonplace, and apps pretty much run our entire lives these days. To feel such fear for something that is relatively ubiquitous these days is difficult to fathom. I could never understand Rowan’s skepticism or fear. I get the creepiness of having a camera in her room, but she solves that issue by placing a sock over the lens. Usually, I can put myself into the hero’s shoes and let go of any modern-day thought processes, but I could not do so here, and my enjoyment of the novel suffered.
I also thought most of the story was fairly predictable. Sure, I did not figure out the entire surprise twist, and the part I did not catch made the ending that much more chilling. However, I found I had large portions of it solved in advance so that Rowan’s big reveal was nothing but a confirmation of information I already knew. Ms. Ware is so good at creating novels that shock and awe. Even her second novel, which is my least favorite, still had an ending that left me reeling at its unexpectedness. In the case of The Turn of the Key, though, I felt nothing but disappointment.
Ms. Ware can still make an entire character out of the setting of her novel. In this case, the house itself becomes that creepy character. In this case, it is not the smart technology that is the cause, but the dichotomy between old and new that is so unsettling. Rowan mentions many times how the house looks like the remodelers chopped it in half with the front retaining all of its Victorian-era design and charm and the second half straight out of a modern architect’s fantasy with no mixing of the two styles. Plus, an entire wall of windows in a house in which you are the only adult set in a remote area of an unfamiliar country is just screaming Gothic. Ms. Ware excels at making the most modern setting as Gothic as possible, and that is what keeps me coming back to her time and again.
The Turn of the Key is not enough for me to give up on Ms. Ware and her novels. Her penchant for modern Gothic stories is too intriguing in this day and age for me to ignore. Plus, I’ve genuinely enjoyed two out of her four novels. While not the best average for an author, what she does well in her stories is too good to ignore. So, while The Turn of the Key is not my favorite of her novels, I will keep reading what she publishes because she can do creepy as well as any King novel, and that’s saying something.
The book starts off with Rowan in jail, but we don’t know why. From there, she is writing letters to a lawyer, begging him to believe her story. We back up through these letters to find what happened. When she applied to be a nanny to three girls at their home, at the end of the
I listened to the audio and I don’t think I ever lost interest. This was so good. I really didn’t know what was going on and I wanted to keep listening to find out. It was creepy – at least there were plenty of parts that were. As the twists were coming at the end, there was one I guessed just minutes before it was revealed. The ultimate twist was the very end, though. The end added the extra 1/4 star for me.
The title Turn of the Key immediately reminded me of the Henry James classic, Turn of the Screw. Like that book, a nanny arrives at her new job at a beautiful but isolated house. After the initial interview, the parents are absent and difficult to reach. Like the classic, the children are either innocent, or very much not. And like the classic, the nanny doesn't know if she's losing her mind or if there is something actually sinister happening.
This was a well-paced thriller, and all the mysteries were explained at the end. Several good twists to keep things interesting. The weakness, for me, is that at the beginning we know the nanny is in prison for the murder of one of the children, and she swears she's innocent. She tells her story in a long letter in an attempt to solicit a better lawyer that the appointed one. This structure of the long letter, I think, should have been done differently. No one writes a letter to a lawyer that sounds like a novel. In the end, I understood where it came from, but it didn't quite work. Beyond that, it was a ripping yarn (I've never used that term before, but it sounds kinda Scottishy)
I thought this was a
Damn, author Ruth Ware really knows how to ramp up the tension in her latest, The Turn of the Key. Like the house, the story is kind of a hybrid of psychological thriller and gothic novel. It is hard not to make comparisons to Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier and, of course, Henry James especally in the title but this is not a criticism - it is definitely more homage than copy. Like the house, the story is a kind of psychological thriller/ gothic hybrid and much like early gothic novels, it is written as an epistolary narrative - Rowan gives her version of events in a letter to a lawyer and there are reasons to suspect she is an unreliable narrator. We only learn what really happened in letters she receives while in prison.
The book is full of twists and turns keeping the reader tied to the page. It is also creepy enough that said reader might want to put it down before dark. My only complaint and why I deducted half a star was the reveal near the end but it wasn't enough to interfere with my enjoyment of the book. A definite high recommendation for anyone who loves to be completely sucked into a thriller with strong touches of gothic.
Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Gallery/Scout Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
So in a sense it is a case of how reliable Rowan is as a narrator. Is she telling
A truly fascinating read, with an almost Gothic feel about it. Rowan has been offered a very demanding job, very highly paid, but the last four nannies have all left. In addition, her employers leave almost straight away, leaving Rowan in a very high tech house, with three little girls who do not really like her. A very demanding job indeed even for a super nanny. And things begin to go wrong almost immediately.
But the really staggering thing about this story is the incredible twist at the end, which won't make any sense unless you've absorbed the whole book.
I've made it the top of my list for this year.
If you haven't read anything by Ruth Ware, time to start. And then follow it up with others from my list below.
4.8, IN A DARK, DARK WOOD
4.4, THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10
4.8, THE DEATH OF MRS WESTAWAY
Further, I'm a big fan of the slow burn, especially in the mystery/
And finally, the ending felt like a non-ending. I get that it's meant to be a shock to the reader in the last 2 pages...to elicit gasps and dropped jaws... yet I closed the book feeling unsatisfied. Sure the mysteries were solved, but where was the resolution? I dunno. Personally I wanted more closure.
Oh well. Most readers will probably love this one. If asked, I'd recommend In a Dark, Dark Wood or The Death of Mrs. Westaway instead.
The novel reveals itself as a letter written by Rowan Caine to a prospective lawyer named Mr. Wrexham. Rowan had been a nanny and was now in prison, arrested for the murder of one of her charges, but she insisted that she was innocent.
She had taken a position as caretaker for the children of Sandra and Bill Elincourt. The reader learns that her post was in a lovely, large home called Heatherbrae House which is rumored to be haunted. It is owned by two architects who had installed advanced technology everywhere in the house, including cameras which were unnerving and voice command control of lights and window coverings which often caused her great confusion. Apps on the phone and Ipad controlled many other features of the house. There were three children, girls aged 14, 8 and 5, Rhiannon, Maddie and Ellie, who did not seem that receptive to her, and they actually worked to obstruct her efforts at first, but she made a valiant effort to overcome their interference.
The Elincourts were successful and their business required them to travel, leaving Rowan alone and completely responsible for the care of the children, although Mrs. Elincourt did leave extensive instructions for her. However, almost from the first day, the parents left on a business trip, and Rowan hoped she would be up to the task. She did not feel particularly well prepared to take on so much responsibility, but she made a very valiant effort, working hard to endear herself to the children. Still, there were many obstacles placed before her that were out of her control.
In addition to Rowan, there was a housekeeper, Mrs. Jean McKenzie, who seemed put off by Rowan and a handyman/dogwalker/driver, Jack of all Trades who was actually named Jack Grant. Rowan and Jack bonded and became friends. He was a great help assisting her with the running of the household technology. When strange sounds and other odd events began to occur, Jack helped Rowan explore and solve the mysteries to take away the attention from theories of possible ghosts. Doors were found locked that had been left opened, windows were found open that had been closed, strange foot falls sounded on the ceiling, and there was even a secret door to an undiscovered attic, but mostly, all of these odd occurrences seemed to succumb to logical explanations. Rowan did not believe in spirits, even though she was sometimes afraid. She generally fought her fear and searched for logical explanations with Jack’s help or on her own.
Because the children did not take to her easily, as nannies had come and gone with great frequency, she had to keep trying to strike up a successful relationship with the children in spite of the games they played to torment her. Often, the children hid from her and could not be found, There was a frightening poison garden on the property, left over from a former owner, and the house had a history of sadness which could not be erased. There really were disturbing and strange things happening in the house which caused her great concern.
The author creates tension on every page, and it is hard to put the book down. As secrets are revealed it becomes more and more apparent that something odd is underfoot, but it is difficult to guess what is causing all of the mishaps occurring with greater and greater frequency and which culminate finally in the death of a child.
The ending is a surprise that I was not prepared for, but it was also a bit unsettling and felt a bit inconclusive. The reader is pretty much in charge of discovering what finally happened.
I recommend this book for its mystery and its engaging narrative which is totally absorbing! Imogen Church is a fantastic reader. Her accents and expression are spot on and enhance the novel. I was completely captured by it, and I listened to it in one day.
Okay....now I have checked out some
This story started as an epistolary story, with a prisoner, a nanny, writing a jurist, hoping for legal help. Then it would go into a long part of the story, traditionally told. Then back to the letter. I don't know if the print editions show some sort of different between the letters and the rest of the narrative, but in the audio, there was no delineation, so the flow was awkward.
The prisoner is in prison because of the death of a child under her care, but we don't know any details until almost the end of the book. The half-Victorian, half modern house was a ridiculously “smart” house, everything control my panels and apps. And there was no one to help, no parent, except for a handyman and a sternly disapproving part-time housekeeper. And very creepy things happened.
It was an interesting story, and in the end, the reader learns about the death of the child, what happened. Still, when I finished, I thought, “yeah, but what about...?” It took just a little bit of reflection for me to answer that, and there was no longer any mystery. It's a good story if you can bear to read about the death of a child, but I'd suggest reading it rather than listening. To my ears, the narration was a distraction rather than adding to the story.
This is such a creepy and spine chilling read! There are nods to Henry James and Daphne du Maurier as the tension and sense of foreboding build up. It certainly had me on the edge of my seat at times. It’s beautifully and atmospherically written. I loved the setting, it worked so well within the confines of this story. The descriptions of the Scottish mountains and countryside are vividly depicted. And I loved how I was never quite sure what the characters were going to come across as they walked around the grounds of this very strange house!
I think this book would suit those who enjoy a story full of mystery and suspense with a ghostly element and a hint of gothic. Superb and eerie stuff!
I can’t recommend the audio enough. Imogen Church was just excellent interpreting the different voices of the characters. Really outstanding. Perfect creepy read as we approach Halloween.