The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The more I read Ruth Ware’s books, the more I want to read her books. The Turn of the Key is the fourth of her novels I’ve read (the third in the past year), and I really, really enjoyed it. A very spooky semi-horror novel that is masquerading as a mystery/thriller. 


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mini Plot Summary: The Elincourts, who live in an isolated mansion in the Scottish Highlands need a nanny for their four children – and quick. Their last few nannies quit in a hurry, blaming their leaving on vengeful ghosts. They hire Rowan Caine – a woman who stumbled across the job posting when she was searching for something else entirely. The Elincourts scarper off to a trade show almost as soon as their new nanny arrives, leaving her to handle their three youngest children. The nanny finds herself at the whims of a malicious eight-year-old, under constant surveillance from a temperamental “smart home,” and startled from sleep again and again by the troubled pacing of an unseen entity. 

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What I Liked About This Book: This felt much more like a horror novel or a ghost story than a typical thriller, which I loved. It wasn’t Horror-with-a-capital-H by any means, but it had that delicious creeping dread that I associate with horror. The setting – an enormous Victorian home that’s been Frankensteined into something semi-modern and plopped into a remote corner of the Scottish moors – was absolutely perfect. The isolation really drove home just how desperate our protagonist’s plight was, and helped make all the other characters – the clearly troubled children, the handsome always-there-at-the-right-time handyman, the stern, angry housekeeper – seem extra creepy. 

I also loved the way the story unfolded. There were some genuine surprises in the plot (among less surprising but no less enjoyable twists) that were surprising because of how the story is told. 

What I Didn’t Like About This Book: The ending felt a little rushed to me. It was satisfying – I liked the way it turned out, even if part of it wasn’t unexpected – but I think it could have been drawn out a bit more so that the payoff felt a little more earned than it did. 

Should You Read This Book? If you like ghost stories and non-gory horror movies, this novel is for you. It’s fast-paced and I kept turning the pages to find out what would happen next. Definitely my favorite Ruth Ware so far… but I just borrowed a couple more from the library, so that title may or may not hold! 

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