Skip to main content

"The Turn of the Key" Book Review

"The Turn of the Key" is hard to put down and is well worth the read.

"The Turn of the Key" is hard to put down and is well worth the read.

The Turn of the Key Synopsis

Rowan Caine is bored and fed up with her job in London. Thankfully, the perfect opportunity falls on her lap while browsing the internet. The posting is for a couple in Scotland who has four children and needs a nanny to help watch them while they are away on business.

Besides the considerably normal rambunctious children and a somewhat avant-garde "smart" house, the interviewing processes went well. Rowan is confident that this new job is exactly what she's been needing in her life. That is until one of the children dies, and she is blamed and imprisoned for the child's murder. Now she has to tell her story to try and prove her innocence, even though she might not be totally innocent.

Want to Give It a Try?

What I Liked About This Novel

Interesting Plot

When I saw that Ruth Ware was coming out with another novel, I immediately hopped online to read what it was about. Within 5 minutes of reading the synopsis, I preordered the book. "The Turn of the Key" has a modern twist on a classic haunted house kind of story. Don't get me wrong, Ware doesn't write ghost stories but still appeals to the phobic, superstitious and anxious tendencies most of us can relate to. There are no perfect answers but a bunch of subtle hints that lead to a dramatic conclusion.

Relatable Characters

Every character in this novel feels so real. When imagining them, I can really picture seeing or meeting them. Rowan is a lost young woman who just wants to find her place and ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The children are sweet but mischievous, mainly acting out to get the attention of absent parents. The mother loves her work and her children but struggles to balance their relationship and career. I could go on and on, but the odds are you already know the stereotypes. Normally I would consider these stereotypes cliche; however, in this novel, they work perfectly to build your connection to the main character's circumstances.

Better to achieve perfect marks on an easy test than flunk a hard one, that was my motto.

— Ruth Ware, The Turn of the Key

Detailed Imagery

What genuinely impressed me was that I've felt Ware has lacked on in her past novels was her use of subtle but descriptive and relative imagery. She was able to build the house and its gardens so perfectly that I could probably draw a picture of it all off the top of my head. However, she doesn't make it a burden or overbearing. I enjoyed how she built the world and hope that her future novels are so perfectly dictated.

Good Twists

I love it when something I thought I knew turns out to be wrong while reading. In "The Turn of the Key," I was not disappointed. I thought I had a good grip on what would happen in the end and knew the answer to "whodunit," but I was genuinely half wrong, which is great! Now I know half wrong sounds a bit disappointing; however, I have been a lot of psychological thrillers lately and have been picking up on some writer ques, so I thought (in my own arrogant way) that I had figured out Wares' novel. Thankfully I was wrong, and it was so worth it!


It's Not Perfect

My biggest complaint isn't so much about The Turn of the Key, but how it's starting to feel like Ruth Ware has a book writing formula from which she doesn't waver. I get it, "don't fix what's not broken," though it would be nice if she did adjust her version of a psychological thriller just a little. I still think she is a great writer, and I will most definitely be buying more of her novels in the future, but I want more surprise and drama in my life and think Ware could, without question, achieve this for me with just a little tweak to her writing style.

Final Thoughts

If you haven't read a Ruth Ware novel then this is the perfect place to start. "The Turn of the Key" was an immersive read that I didn't want to put down. It is filled with real characters a driving plot and twists that will leave you thinking about the book for days. I put it on my must-read list. Ruth Ware novels are only getting better, so dive in, and enjoy the ride!


Noel Penaflor from California on October 02, 2019:

Excellent review. I've read The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark, Wood. Enough for me to get a hint of what Ware writes but not enough to discern an obvious formula. This review makes me want to fast-track reading turn. Hopefully it won't get too stale.