Author: Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | Book Review

Posted May 21, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | Book ReviewThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on August 6, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 337
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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4 Stars

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.

I really love books set in creepy buildings… and I love them even more if isolation is thrown into the mix, so The Turn of the Key had my name written all over it. And Riley Sager, author of my favorite creepy building book: Lock Every Door, recommended it to me when I reached out on twitter so I was EXCITED. And I was so engrossed. I quickly became very addicted to the story and could not stop myself from reading long into the wee hours of the night.

What I Liked:

  • I listened to the audio, and Imogen Church is an amazing narrator.
  • Ruth Ware is SO GOOD at the atmospheric, suspenseful feelings. This book is eerie and dark and tense in a very subtle way that works itself into your very being. I’d read about a creepy sound and then feel sure I’d just heard that sound in my own house. I was afraid to run across the hall to go to the bathroom at 2 AM. I wouldn’t say the book is scary, it’s just got this underlying sense of foreboding like anything could happen at any moment.
  • The Turn of the Key is written as a letter from Rowan to a solicitor she hopes will represent her in her murder trial. I enjoyed reading a book in this format, and felt it brought some added intrigue to the situation. Rowan is currently in prison for murdering one of the girls in her care, but she swears she’s innocent. I loved unraveling her story and trying to figure out what really happened. 
  • The setting was exactly what I hoped it would be. I was so creeped out and uncomfortable reading about this isolated smart home with cameras and voice controlled everything (and I mean everything). Lights turning on on their own, doors locking themselves on their own, secret locked doors with who knows what behind them, a do-I-trust-him-or-not groundskeeper who seems to be very nice but might actually be a serial killer. I was so unsure of everything.
  • During the day Rowan and the girls explore the grounds a little bit, and discover a bit of the house’s history. CREEPY. I’d love a prequel book to get the story of the original inhabitants of the house in more detail. 
  • All the previous nannies could not handle living in Heatherbrae House, and I really loved trying to figure out the mystery of why. This book was really one mystery within another, and I liked all the layers that gave me to work through. I was never bored.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I feel like we never get a heroine who is strong and level-headed in a Ruth Ware book. Unreliable narrators are a Ware hallmark, it would seem, and sometimes I don’t love it. Rowan put herself into some pretty sucky situations and then didn’t trust herself enough to be able to handle them. She never stuck up for herself. She never put the bratty, misbehaving girls in their places. I got a bit annoyed at how spineless she was, and how quick she was to believe that’s she’s going insane instead of the victim of someone other than herself.
  • The ending is VERY unsatisfying. So much is left up in the air and, after everything I had gone through as a reader, I wanted more answers. Be prepared to Google for other readers’ theories or find someone to chat with when you’re done (I’m happy to DM on twitter if you need someone to listen to your theories or discuss things!).

Additional Thoughts:

  • I really want to read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James now and see what the original story is like!
  • Imogen Church has to mimic a creaking floor in her narration, and oh man. It gave me goosebumps.
  • I never, in a million years, would have guessed the ending. Ruth Ware always tricks me and I never get it right, so that’s obviously one of the main reasons I keep coming back for more! She’s a very entertaining storyteller and a great writer.

All in all, The Turn of the Key was creepy and atmospheric and so engrossing. The ending drove me insane and I still think about it all the time, but I guess that serves Ruth Ware well! She’s always marinating in the back of my head. I keep telling myself I need to stop reading her books because I always come away slightly frustrated, but perhaps that’s her goal. And… I know I’m going to read more of her books. lol. So great. More torture on the horizon for me!

4 Stars

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book Review

Posted November 3, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book ReviewThe Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on July 19, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 340
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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4 Stars

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

I really, really love mysteries and I love them even more if they are set at sea. So obviously the cover and the synopsis had me sold, not to mention that our heroine is a travel journalist sent to write about a luxury cruise on a small, elite, incredibly expensive vessel during its maiden voyage. The Woman In Cabin 10 is suspenseful, exciting, chilling, and completely enthralling. While trying to write my review I realized I don’t want to stick with my usual format of bolding my points and elaborating on them. I just want to list things out instead, so here we go!

What I liked:

  • We start off with a bang. We immediately learn that Lo has crippling anxiety, which was very well written. In the beginning of the story, someone breaks into her house while she is there. Understandably, she is already on edge and quite paranoid when she boards the ship and soon hears something horribly wrong happen in the cabin next to hers on night.
  • The setting. The Aurora has 10 cabins, with only a handful of guests (20 at most) and a few common areas. It’s lavishly decorated and sounds super cozy and intimate. The guests are sailing the freezing Norwegian fjords, which is a huge bucket list item for me. I’m so jealous of the beautiful scenery they saw. Northern Lights, people!!
  • The mystery. One night, Lo hears a scream followed by a splash. She sees blood on the balcony next to hers, but the person who was supposed to be in that cabin never boarded. But Lo met the woman in cabin 10 the day before. So what is even going on? What caused the splash? Whose blood was that on the balcony? And why are there more questions than answers? Lo’s anxiety is blamed as the investigation proves no help, so she’s left completely helpless on a little boat in freezing waters, surrounded by guests and crew that do not believe her and that she cannot trust.
  • The atmosphere. As amazing as the Aurora sounds, it turns into a very creepy place once murder is suggested. Things felt very ominous, unsettled, and unsafe as Lo laid in bed at night trying to sleep or as she walked the halls looking for answers.
  • There’s a twist that I wasn’t expecting at all.
  • I didn’t know who did it until the end.

What I didn’t Like: 

  • The characters. Lo exhausted me. Her anxiety and paranoia, while very well done and very realistic, kind of wore me out because I never got to know anything else about her. She became a condition instead of a character, and I could not separate the two and see who she truly was. She also makes some silly mistakes for the sake of making the story work. And she has no backbone. The supporting characters were shells, and not very memorable or used to their fullest potentials.
  • Parts dragged a bit and slowed down at times.
  • The narrator of the book is rather long-winded and repetitive at times.
  • The resolution. The end went in a direction that was interesting, but not what I was hoping for. Things started to feel unbelievable, but not enough for me to be irritated or upset.

All in all, I really enjoyed the mystery. I tend to like the story more than the characters in mysteries like this, so the fact that I didn’t enjoy the characters didn’t bother me. I love mysteries at sea, and this one was quite entertaining. I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for an entertaining mystery.

4 Stars