Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware.

Book: The Turn of the Key

Author: Ruth Ware

Pages: 337

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 5-6 hours

Plot Summary: 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.

Things I Liked: 

1. Between my sister and I, we've read all of Ruth Ware's books. You could call us fans. Her books are usually fast paced and entertaining and gripping and overall a good time. Some are spookier than others but all of them are well-written and engaging, all things I look for in a thriller. This one was so different. 

2. The premise, the setting, the atmosphere of this book are all very, very interesting and kind of eerie. The author builds up the events in a suspenseful and sinister manner, which, much like the inspiration/ hat-tip for this book (The Turn of the Screw), makes you wonder if Rowan is imagining things or is the house, indeed, haunted. Between the Smart Home system acting up inexplicably in the  middle of the night and footsteps being heard over Rowan's room, where there is, supposedly, nothing, the book starts getting spooky right from the get-go. 

3. The writing is very on-point and non-meandering, which is always a nice thing in books of this genre. The author wastes no time in jumping into the weird dynamics of the Elincourt family- the eight year old Maddie, who does not want Rowan to be there and is being as difficult as she can possibly be, five year old Ellie, who does whatever Maddie tells her to, the complicated Smart Home system that is impossible to figure out without assistance, a toddler in the midst of her Terrible Twos, Rowan not getting much sleep every night because of bizarre things happening- all of which build this sense of stress and fatigue. As a reader, you feel Rowan's frustration and helplessness. She has been left to care for 3 kids under 8 without even a single day of overlap with the mom! The book does a great job of building up the tension and fatigue as one bizarre event after another unfolds on a daily basis.

4. There are a couple of plot twists in the book. You may see them coming. You may not see them coming. I saw one coming a mile away. The other one was a shock. So, yeah, that is always a good thing. 

5. The actual death of the child and the circumstances leading to it are all nicely depicted. Even as Rowan describes that night to the lawyer in her letter, you are left wondering (as she is) about who could've killed the child?! That bit is also nicely done. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. I wouldn't say "didn't like", more like "I wish it had been done differently" is the ending. I won't go into more details here, but I wish the ending was different. I could empathise with the outcome, but there was one aspect of the ending that I wish was different. 

Rating: 4.5/5 
This is a good, fast-paced thriller. Perfect for an afternoon of nothing-ness with a cup of something refreshing! 

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