Thank You to Scout Press/Simon and Schuster, NetGalley and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for a fair review.
Fact: I read this book in five hours flat.
Fact: That time was spent by a pool, in broad daylight.
Fact: No less than five innocent people walked within five feet of me. This caused a cascading tide of events. I jumped through my skin. They jumped through their skin and asked me, quite shocked, if I was ok. To which, I could only look at my kindle, look-up remembering myself to be in public and look back down pathetically at that silent device, as if begging these kind strangers for safety, source of my whimpering.
Fact: For those (secondary fact? I was the only one) that were not in the throes of The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware? This is not conducive to relaxing by a pool. I created a dozen skittish kittens on what should’ve been an otherwise beautiful, sunny, relaxing day.
Here is where this review is going to get really difficult because with brilliant books that are in this genre? THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT. You have to…
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 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.
Here’s what we can safely talk about. Ware’s brilliance is everywhere. The structure that Turn of the Key takes is conducive to heart palpitations. From the opening sentence, you know that Rowan is writing to a lawyer and pleading for help. However, her competing goals set-up a very anxiety ridden narrative.
- Rowan is done giving parts of the story that make her look better to authorities. It has only made things worse. So, she is determined to tell the entire truth to her last chance lawyer because if there is one thing Rowan is sure of, it is this: no matter her flaws, her mistakes and what she could have done better? She didn’t kill that child.
- She is also frenetically getting the entirety of this story out as quickly as possible because she needs a better lawyer, like yesterday. Rotting in a prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Rowan knows that both her and possibly the lives of the other children in the Heatherbrae home are in danger.
Ware takes the panic-ridden and frightened voice of a prisoner trapped for something they didn’t do and mixes it with the desperate need to tell every aching detail of the truth. The anxiety spirals as she gets deeper into the story, trying to stay coherent, stay on track but as both her desperation to finish and emotional feelings overwhelm her, it all collides through the narrative.
YOU. WILL. FEEL. IT. Good luck staying out of the grips of Rowan’s emotional despair and physical anxiety. Your stomach will flop, pulse will race, heart will jump. It is all there. Ware sucks you in through Rowan and makes you feel every painstaking breath throughout this story. From the very first, incomplete, sentence to the jaw dropping conclusion? You won’t breathe. Or if you do? It won’t be easy. It definitely won’t be relaxed.