The Turn of the Key

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.

If you know me, you know that I really enjoy Ruth Ware. I’ve read all of her books but one (The Woman in Cabin 10) and have enjoyed all of them; some of them I’ve enjoyed a LOT. So I was highly anticipating this Summer release date for The Turn of the Key. After finally getting my hands on this one, I can happily report that I’m not disappointed.

The Turn of the Key is pretty much everything I wanted from Ware. It is atmospheric, thrilling, creepy, and completely sucked me in from the first chapter.

One aspect I really enjoyed in this novel was the constant wondering WHAT the threat in this book actually was: Supernatural? Mundane? Psychological? I loved bouncing back and forth between theories for the majority of this book and, though the ending still left me with a lot of questions, I genuinely had a lot of fun throughout the roller coaster that was this story.

My favorite thing about this book was how hard it was to listen to in the dark. I don’t get creeped out easily but just imagining that “creeeeeak” that she writes so well coming from the floor above her bed, I began to hear and think about it when I was laying in bed myself. This book was eerie and continually compelling because of that fact. Turn of the Key manages to keep the urgency of a thriller while still creating the slow, deeper dread that a horror novel usually produces.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about Ware’s characters is that they are not detectives or police or even “crime-solving citizens” they’re just women. Women who respond to these mysterious and scary moments with relatable fear, confusion, and just trying their damndest to figure out what they’ve gotten themselves into. I relate to that, especially in the types of mysteries that Ware tells, tangled in the further complicating factors of love and family and work. Aside from a few twists and revelations, this book was no different. Though I wanted to throw Rowan across the room for many of her choices, Ware is great at wrapping the fog of “what is right and true” tightly around her story and her character’s actions, forcing us to also ask the same of ourselves.

I also enjoyed the format and style of this book; I love a good first person narrative. Turn of the Key begins with a letter from Rowan to an unnamed attorney, and the anticipatory dread this created added to the urgency throughout the book. It reminded me a little of the book Alias Grace, where you’re left to decide so much for yourself about what’s actually happened in the story.

The only thing I might have changed is the ending. While it was a shocking and interesting twist, I still have so many burning questions now that the book is over! I feel like there were certain threads throughout the story that got lost in the final pages. I still didn’t see that twist coming, so I consider this a semi-win. I’d love to hear your opinions on this ending if you’ve read it yourself!

Overall, Turn of the Key was a creepy, pulse-pounding thriller that I sped through in a day and I would do it all again. I just had fun reading this book and continuing to find out what happened at every turn. Despite its small plot holes, I still enjoyed this new addition to Ware’s body of work. I hope that you do too!

Find this book on Amazon, here!

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It’s “What are you reading?” Wednesday!

I’ve seen a lot of bookish memes and list ideas here on the book-blogging circuit, and I wish I could do all of them! One of my favorites has been a trend of bloggers posting their current reads on Wednesdays.

This week I’ll be taking inspiration from Taking On a World of Words, and trying out their “WWW Wednesday!”

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m currently reading:

Half Bad by Sally Green

I’m getting around to this series way behind everyone else, but I’m enjoying it a lot so far! This world is complicated and dark, fresh and original, and I’m enjoying that more than anything else. This witchy book is right on time for October!

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

This one I’ve read before, but it’s October! And since it’s a spooky favorite of mine, I’m reading it again. Tremblay is a big name in Horror and his books have either been big hits or big misses for me, but this one is my favorite. It’s eerie, scary, dark, and accomplishes my favorite thing in horror: a fascinating examination of humanity in its darkest moments.

What I’ve recently finished:

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

I. Loved. This book. And I didn’t expect anything from it when I started it, but damn. This YA Thriller/Horror novel came to me through BookishFirst as an ARC and it was released last week! This book swept me up in the middle of a reading slump and I was lost in the spooky, ethereal happenings of this dark little story. I loved the characters, I loved the eerie legends that surrounded their story, I loved the way the author told this story and I loved the tangible, vivid descriptions of every step on The Road. Definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a spooky, winding, tale for October! I highly recommend.

A House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

This book came in my Owlcrate last month and it was a really fun read! Set on an isolated, haunted island and starring a potentially cursed family, shenanigans abound in this story and I really liked it. I loved all the sisters’ personalities, I loved the complex relationship with their step-mother, and I really liked the spooky story hiding underneath it all. Thanks, Owlcrate!

What I think I’ll read next:

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

This book sounds so deliciously full of all the things I love: anti-heroes, complex morality, dark characters that you also want to put in your pocket, I’m so excited. So many people I know love and cherish this book and I am really looking forward to finding out more about it for myself!

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

I have loved A Handmaid’s Tale since the first time I read it in High School. It was such a formative book for me as a young woman. I didn’t even know that I wanted or needed a sequel until it was announced that she was writing one and now I cannot wait to dive into it. I have to know! What happens next? The show has been tiding me over, but I’m so eager to see what Atwood has in store for these characters in the next installment of this hard-hitting series.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

I have heard such good things about this! And its spooky season, so its right on time! I’ve heard that its spooky, descriptive, fast-paced, and oh-so-wonderfully Queer. I am so excited! Plus, I’ve read another series by this author and loved it, so I feel like I’m in good hands. Will report back!

What are you reading this week! Drop a line in the comments and let me know! x — A

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