Book Review: The Turn of the Key
Why yes, I have read another psychological thriller! I think this genre of books is one of my favorites because I love mystery and plot twists that you don't see coming. Reading The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware, was no different than the other psychological thrillers that I enjoy. The book gave me a great sense of unease as I read it, so much so that I just wanted to get to the end of the book because I could not stand not knowing what happened.
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Boy, oh boy, did Ruth Ware dish out the good stuff with this book! I am a huge fan of her book The Woman in Cabin 10, and this book did remind me of that in the sense that there were a few unexpected twists that felt like they gave me a whole new perspective on the story.
** If you have not read this book, but would like to, you have been warned that there are spoilers ahead!
First off, the description of the book on the flyleaf was accurate but also I feel like it didn't completely give the story justice. It seemed interesting enough from the description, but the story itself was super juicy and intricate. The description also made it seem as though the time period that Rowan was at Heatherbrae House was much longer than she actually was.
I kept waiting for even more time to pass, but Rowan was really only there for about two weeks before the premise of the book all went down. Throughout the whole book it also felt like more time was passing, and I remember reminding myself that it had only been a few days.
Throughout the whole book, it is written as though it is a letter to her lawyer, which I thought was pretty clever so that it had a more raw and feral edge to it at times. You get a true sense of Rowan's discomfort in the home and how much that discomfort worked against her, making her seem crazy. With so many nights of little sleep, anyone would feel like a screw was loose.
I did feel like one hole in the story off the bat that felt uncomfortable for me as a mom was that Sandra, the girls' mother just up and left her three very young children with a virtual stranger. She seems much more absorbed in her business with her husband (more on him) than getting to know the person who would be watching her kids.
She also barely gets in touch with Rowan except on one occasion to chew her out for letting her kids play in a poison garden (?????), despite Rowan having no idea that they had a POISON GARDEN on their property!!! Why not mention that right off the bat, Sandra, you doh doh brain!
I definitely don't feel like Sandra should not pursue a career, but it was concerning to me the lack of time spent with a person that you want to watch your children full time. I have also never been in that sort of situation myself, but I would hope I would be less inclined to leave.
Back to her husband, Bill. He is a dirtbag. When he first meets Rowan he is with Sandra, but once Sandra leaves he pours Rowan an extra glass of wine and tries to hit on her. What was crazy to me was that Sandra left him alone with her in the first place even though it is later revealed in the book that he has had an affair with a nanny before.
This may be because Sandra didn't know at that point about the affair, that was not super clear to me if she knew about it before or after Rowan is in prison. Either way, girl!! Also, if she knew about the affair before, why would she be so intent to continue doing all this work with her husband. I have made the decision for myself that at this point she does not know her husband is a bag of trash because that is the only thing that makes sense.
Throughout the book you are also introduced to Jack Grant who is the groundkeeper/do whatever the heck guy at the Heatherbrae House. He does some weird things, but in the end he and Rowan sleep together and in prison she finds out he actually had a wife and kids. The men in this book, dude, they are just the worst.
Sorry to be jumping all over the place with this too, I really just needed to get all my thoughts and feelings out and this is how they are pouring from my brain, you're welcome.
The three girls that Rowan is in charge of are Maddie (8), Ellie (5), and Petra (1-ish). The Elincourts (Sandra and Bill) also have a teenage daughter, Rhiannon (14) who goes to a boarding school, so Rowan just watches the little ones.
But holy cow, Maddie is enough just by herself! She seems to love terrorizing everyone and obviously just wants the attention of her parents rather than some 20-something nanny who is getting paid to pay attention to her. Ellie is this wonderful and sweet little girl, but is also very much under the influence of Maddie, which is bad news bears for all.
Petra is a baby and is sounds adorable and that is all I have to say on her as a character, haha!
Rhiannon is a troublemaker from the get-go, too, and goes head to head with Rowan when she is acting like a dumb 14-year-old. She gets caught drinking and lying about being at a girlfriend's house when really she was staying over with some older dude. When she and Rowan get into an argument, she calls Rowan out for not actually being Rowan, but Rachel.
That's right - Rachel. I was shook about this. I could not believe that Rowan was hiding her identity and felt like there was no hint of that whatsoever before. When she was talking about her license, I thought it was probably because she had a DUI or something like that that she was trying to hide, but nope.
It also turns out that Bill is actually Rachel's dad. That was the plot twist that I did not see coming from a million miles away. that fact was nuts to me. This was so well hidden until the very end that it really did shock me. Well done, Ruth Ware, well done.
The book ends with Rachel finding Maddie is not in her bed, but instead is dead below Rachel's window and Rachel freaks out. Rachel is then also the prime suspect in the murder because she had a lot of things stacked against her. Hence the reason why she is writing her lawyer from prison to get her out because she knows she is innocent.
Then the biggest plot twist of the whole book gets dropped on the second to last page with a letter from young Ellie sent via the housekeeper, who states that it was actually her who killed Maddie and that it was an accident. All the spooky sounds that Rowan kept hearing were all Maddie's doing and she would recruit Ellie to partake in her mischief. Ellie, in her five-year-old wisdom tells Rowan in the letter to tell everyone she didn't do it and she knows who did but she can't say.
This is where the book ends. Just with that letter and no explanation of what Rowan decides to do because what in the heck could she do?! Ellie, her little sister, killed her other sister and doesn't in any way understand what she did. I doubt that Rowan would want to switch places and have her little sister be in a position where she is punished for what she did.
When I finished this book, I was really stunned because the ending was so tough. I am glad that Ruth didn't give any more story at the end because it allows the read to wonder what they would have done had they been in that sort of situation.
All in all, this was a great read and I felt like it was unsettling enough to make you feel like you could slip into Rowan's shoes. Between the malfunctioning technology with the house's smart app do-dad, Happy (so annoying), and the creepy noises from the attic, etc., this book was the perfect Halloween read and it kept me on the edge of my seat.