The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Verdict: meh. A mediocre mystery lacking sinister characters and shocking yet satisfying twist that mysteries and thrillers are built on.
Recommended: not really
Look elsewhere for a character you like, or for a story that focuses on the suspense and not the domestic issues, or for people who are made out to be really sinister and suspicious, or for a twist/shock that will blow you away
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.
This might be the first time ever that I finished a book and wrote and posted a review the same day I finished it!! 🎉
Ah, I mean, I don’t know. While I read this pretty quickly, it wasn’t because of how into it I was. More because there wasn’t much to take in, so I flew through it.
I expected a lot more as far as developing the possible characters in suspicious ways. I wanted to see them seem evil, or sinister, or delve more into the supernatural elements. I wanted to have no idea who to trust, with scheming at every turn! There were a few select moments like this, but ultimately none really had the impact I was hoping for.
The “spooky stuff” felt pretty small. Though they took up good chunks at times, none of it felt particularly scary. Plus by the ending, some of these little moments went unexplained, so I have to assume it they were just.. normal issues. Like, oh whoops I misplaced something and found it later. Normal.
Since it hadn’t really built up the suspense for me, by the time I got to the end with the Big Reveal moments, I didn’t really care. I read those sections with a sort of detached feeling, without it really having the heavy hit that most thrillers lead up to so deliciously. Plus, in the end, the explanations we get don’t really explain Rowan’s actions to me. Or actions she didn’t take. She was just a strange, mildly baffling person who I didn’t really care about one way or the other. Her background and decisions didn’t seem to matter, or in large part to relate to the rest of the story.
So I think I would say that if you’re looking for a great thriller that builds suspense and confuses characters so you never know who to trust — look somewhere else. If you thrive on trying to put the clues together and having the final Ah-HA! moment of discovery — try another book.
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