The Turn of the Key

Book Review: “The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

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.

Hands down, The Turn of the Key was my favorite Ruth Ware book.

It was a really well-done psychological thriller that was difficult to figure out precisely what was going on.

Because, you see, Heatherbrae is haunted. Or, at least, that’s what the locals say. So, on top of everything else going wrong, it makes you wonder.

Is it the ghost? Is it the house’s strange and tragic history?

There were so many threads Ware balances, from the “smart” house technology (which isn’t all that smart and certainly made me rethink how, well, smart it is to have a computer control your house) to the ghost story, to the twisted family drama.

Not to mention solving the mystery of who was killed and why.

I didn’t completely see the end coming, which is always a bonus, and there was a question around how exactly everything resolved, which I wish was spelled out a little more (this is probably my only complaint).

I also appreciate the clever way Ware used first person. As much as I love first person, it can be a challenging perspective to pull off in a psychological thriller. You’re already in your main character’s head, so it would make sense to know his secrets.

But of course, if the secret is revealed too soon, it spoils the plot. So what do you do?

Some authors (ahem, The Silent Patient) resort to what I call “tricking” the reader.

But, the way Ware handles it makes perfect sense. It’s a letter to an attorney, so of course it would be written in first person, and of course the main character wouldn’t reveal everything until she has laid out her whole story.

I thought it was quite clever, actually.

All in all, this book was definitely worth the read. It was difficult to put down, with strong characters and powerful writing.

One of the very few books to get 5 stars from me! The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. Check out my full review here. Share on X

Yes, you read right. I would give The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware five stars. You can grab your copy on Amazon right here:

I’d love to hear from you! Have you read The Turn of the Key? What did you think? Comment below!

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware”

  1. I hated the ending. Then I found that the whole story doesn’t work: spoilers ahead:


    At the end, Jack denies that Rachel slept with him that night, giving her an excellent alibi. The problem is, she told the police at the start (while they were at the home) about her alibi. The police would have then sent a crew to Jack’s house (and he would not be able to stop them: at worse they arrest him for interference with an investigation). They would have been able to detect semen stains, Rachel’s lubricant, any hair she shed, her fingerprints, her lip marks on the wine glass, and whatever else. Even a gynecologic exam would support her claim. It becomes proof of her innocence. She never would have been kept in prison longer than the week or two to get everything back. So how did that not get done?

    1. Michele Pariza Wacek

      We actually don’t know how long, none of that was really revealed. But yes, I do see your point.

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