Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Shatter CityAuthor: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Released: August 6th, 2019
Received: Own
Warnings: Child death
Rating: 4 kitties

The Turn of the Key is Ruth Ware’s latest thriller novel, and it’s been getting a lot of ink lately. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since her second novel and it has been quite the experience watching her grow as an author.

Rowan Caine just got the break of her life. She’s been hired as a live-in nanny for a rich family out in the country. It may not be her dream job – but it certainly is her dream home. And she’s willing to put up with a lot in order to continue living here. Including a couple of spoiled children.

But this is Ruth Ware’s writing we’re talking about, and that means there is more going on behind the scenes. The Heatherbrae House is said to be haunted, and based on some of the events that have been happening around Rowan lately, she’s starting to believe that those rumors may just be right.

The Turn of the Key is a fascinating novel, one that is told through a unique storytelling style. The entire book is written from Rowan’s perspective, as if she was writing a letter (who she’s writing the letter to quickly becomes clear).


“Dear Mr. Wrexham,

You have no idea how many times I have started this letter and screwed up the resulting mess, but I’ve realized there is no magic formula here. There is no way I can make you listen to my case. So I’m just going to have to do my best to set things out. However long it takes, however much I mess it up, I’m just going to keep going and tell the truth.”

Spoiler Warning

The Turn of the Key was a dark and mesmerizing read. It’s evident that Ruth Ware has grown a lot as a writer since she first started out. Her latest decision seems to have paid off; this tale would have gone very differently had it been told in any other format.

It was impossible not to be drawn in by the mystery of the Heatherbrae House. Part of me was actually wishing it was real – that combination of classic architecture and high tech sounds both brilliant and alarming. And that garden – what I wouldn’t give to have a tour there! (Yes, I know that there are real poison gardens out there, and visiting one has been added to my bucket list).

I really enjoyed the writing style in this novel. It wasn’t anything like Ware’s other novels (and I liked those too). It was a risk, and I completely respect that she decided to take it. There’s nothing worse than a stale thriller novel, and it seems like Ware is taking steps to avoid exactly that.

The intrigue and slow buildup of The Turn of the Key was perfection. It was tense and foreboding, while also leaving readers curious for more. For once I found myself unable to make any predictions for what was about to happen, and I couldn’t have been happier about that fact.

As for the ending itself? (Spoiler warning) I rather enjoy that Ruth Ware left a lot more unsaid than said. It’s an interesting and bold move. But it fit in well with the rest of the risks she took in this novel. I won’t say that I love the ending itself, but I will agree that it absolutely fit.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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