The Turn of the Key By Ruth Ware Book Review

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Originally publishedAugust 6, 2019
Author: Ruth Ware
Rating: ★★★★ 3.75/5
British Cover


We follow a British nanny who is hired to work for a family in the Scottish highlands in an isolated estate with a smart house. The whole book is a group of letters she is writing from jail to her solicitor after she has been accused of murdering one of the children. She recounts in detail everything from the interview to the night of the murder in hopes of understanding what happened. From the many strange incidents to the history of the place and the so-called ghosts and the house malfunctioning over and over. The whole book has a gothic air to it and makes you wonder if ghosts could really be responsible for everything that is going on.

This was a big disappointment for me. It looked so promising and I guess I just had my expectations way too high. But many of my favorite booktubers and bookstagrammers loved it so if you find the synopsis interesting feel free to pick it up. It was still a very enjoyable read throughout  90% of it. But for me, if a thriller loses me at the reveal, then it’s not worth it.

Non-Spoiler Review:

I never knew I could be scared by a book until I read this. The book is set in the Scottish highlands in an old modified Victorian house. So the suspense comes from two juxtaposed sources; the eerie atmosphere of the dark old gothic house, and the vulnerability and frustration of living in a smart house controlled completely by technology. The story was filled with moments of suspense- some even terror- and kept me guessing the whole time. Though I easily gathered the breadcrumbs for all the secrets and twists, I still didn’t completely guess the main twist. I’m still not completely sure how I feel about it. I feel like it fell a bit flat for me. The story kept building up more and more that at the end it felt like my expectations were a bit too high for the ending to meet. But that’s not the only reason this isn’t a five-star. The end left a few holes that I felt weren’t correctly filled. As well as the fact that I feel like there wasn’t enough closure in the end. There were far too many questions that weren’t answered.

 Overall, I still enjoyed it but don’t think I’ll be reading anymore from Ruth Ware.

Third Cover Design


This is the second Ruth Ware book, the first being The death of Mrs. Westaway. With that book, my issue wasn’t the third act or the twists. I loved those. But it was the fact that I felt lost for the first 70 percent of the book. I didn’t have enough questions to keep going and the stakes weren’t that high until the ending. Here, I feel it was the opposite issue. I loved the first 70 percent but the ending didn’t meet my admittedly high expectations of it. I felt kind of cheated and like the ending didn’t answer all my questions.

Three things don’t completely fit in my head: The knocking, the flower, the key.

On the first night, when she heard the knocking outside after she put the girls to bed was unmistakably coming from outside.

The flower, even if Maddie somehow snuck outside and got it. I find it hard to believe that she would leave a flower that she knows is deadly where Petra and the dogs could get to it.

Stranger still is the missing key that we have been told clearly was out of reach of both girls. How did she get it and put it underneath the washer? And speaking of keys, how exactly did she lock herself and her sister outside without it?

I don’t know, I just really don’t buy it. She might have been responsible for some things but I feel like she wasn’t the original villain. I feel like at some point it was someone else and these are the remnants of that person.

The poison garden was another reason. It felt too important to only be used as a red herring. I was certain it would be part of the murder. Either the body being found there or the child being poisoned or maybe have something to do with the motive? There’s also the fact that there was that patch of tended plants in the garden that were clearly the work of an adult.

The truth is that the girls were my first guess but it felt like the book was pulling me away from that conclusion and I was so excited to find out who could possibly have done it that I couldn’t find. So when the answer turned out to be the first thing that I thought of, and left so many plot holes, I guess I’m just really underwhelmed.

I still have some unanswered questions about the ending too. What happened to Rachel? Did she go to prison? Get executed? Commit suicide? I guess it’s left open ended but I still feel we’re owed at least that.


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