The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Title: The Turn of the Key.
Writer(s): Ruth Ware.
Publisher: Scout Press.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: August 6th 2019.
Pages: 384.
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller.
ISBN13:  9781787300439.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.


In the modern age in which we live, we often find ourselves worried by the facility with which we are able to access everyone’s personal information with the click of a button. It’s even more disturbing when nothing you do could ever be kept a secret from the world with eyes everywhere, especially where you least expect it. However, there are some who revel in living a life completely exposed to the world, where every single detail is noted, recorded, and archived. At the heart of Ruth Ware’s latest novel is a home automation system in a house in the middle of nowhere and it is nothing short of eerie. Having read all of her books so far, I believe Ruth Ware has now found her niche and is killing it with her stories. If it’s not already the case, she has definitely climbed up to become a star among modern mystery writers.

What is The Turn of the Key about? Serendipitously stumbling upon an ad with an offer that seemed too good to be true, Rowan Caine pounces on a nannying job opportunity looking to change her life for the better.  What she doesn’t know is that she was never going to be ready to move to the Scottish Highlands, in a “smart” home that blends classic gothic victorian architecture with ultra-modern technology and kids who are the Devil incarnate. Not to mention that the creepy camera surveillance, the strange poison gardens, and the mysteriously disappearing objects were bound to complicate her life, especially when she discovers the death of past residents in this very home, as well as the presence of ghosts who might still be roaming around at night. Written in the form of letters to a lawyer that could maybe help exonerate her, she recounts her short-lived time as a nanny at the Heatherbrae House owned by Sandra and Bill Elincourt. But will it be enough to prove her innocence?


Ruth Ware nails the setting in The Turn of the Key. Drawing upon some of the most common fears around privacy and technology, she looks into exploring the creepiest and darkest corners of a ‘smart’ home almost entirely controlled by an application. Through a paranoid protagonist, she allows the uncomfortable and disturbing feeling of being constantly watched to crawl under the skin of the reader and set their imagination wild by planting ideas of all the ill-intentioned activities imaginable that could be going on in this isolated home. Interestingly, Ruth Ware also merges two styles of architecture, classic and modern, in an unharmonious yet plausible fashion that makes it easy for the reader to imagine every single detail of this environment. The setting is simply a quintessential component to the suspense that is built in this steady-paced mystery.

While the pacing isn’t always perfect and the mystery only really kicks in around the halfway mark, the prose is fantastic, completely immersive and makes for an addictive read. Ruth Ware’s writing style allows for such a suspenseful story to unfold, first exploring the tough life of nannies and the trust they need to build with kids and then introducing all the red herrings necessary to hook you in and never let you go. It was fascinating to see how she also seamlessly transitions from speaking directly to the lawyer—almost giving the impression that she was breaking the fourth wall to speak to the reader—to telling a story with all the details in the world to put you right in the shoes of her protagonist. Past the first half of the novel, into the final act, readers need not worry of the pacing as everything tumbles into a grand finale that I never got the time to see coming. While I feared the worse for the ending, trust in Ruth Ware to end with all the answers delivered on a silver platter.

The Turn of the Key is a suspenseful and brilliantly-written mystery where secrets lead to uncomfortable revelations within a “smart” home like none other.


Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy for review!



52 thoughts on “The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

      1. Phracking wordpress. Your comment never showed up in my notification bar, sigh.

        Anyway. Yes, this turn of the key sounds like a modern retelling of turn of the screw. Or Ware’s version of a re-telling. You might like Screw since you liked this so much.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m definitely intrigued and will have to push it higher up my priority list. I’m, however, convinced that Ruth Ware doesn’t incorporate the pure horror elements that are probably in The Turn of the Screw though. That might be difference that would have been needed for me to give 5 stars too hahah Thanks for connecting the dots though, I hadn’t even noticed at first.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I have to say that you are so right about the fact that everything we do these days seems to be monitored. It’s crazy, which is why I think the premise of this book is even more scary. I have never heard of this writer before, but the way you describe this book, I’m going to add it to my to read list for sure now😊 As always this was a terrific review that certainly managed to make me very curious about this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tell me about it. 😂 I tell myself that privacy will end up being a concept with no meaning in the near future. I mean, even if the things that occur in the bedrooms of people (they sexuality) is now a public subject! 😂 nothing is safe from anything in the end. 😜 Glad to hear it piqued your curiosity though. Thank you so much for your kind words, Michel!


  2. Silver platter… hmmm… Sounds like it’s literal. A severed head?
    I think I might have to add this to my list. Two questions:
    1. What kept you from dropping the book in the first half?
    2. Is the plot less than obvious?
    I’d hate to read a book that is about a serial killer who hacks the “smart home” and terrorizes her. Only her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I can’t tell you how it ends, that would kill the whole goal of this mystery! 😂 I probably kept on going because I’ve read her other 4 books and enjoyed my time with them. I also like how she writes, so it just made it easier to keep on going even if the whole nannying theme isn’t the most exciting subject for me. Well, I’d tell you that it’s probably an ending that not many will like. I personally didn’t find the plot obvious and enjoyed the finale that left my mouth wide open, but some did find it less than impressive. You’d have to read it to find out, so I guess it’s your call if you want to try this author out or nah. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I do remember that about you and Ruth Ware. It would be hard to say that this is different since I’d be more inclined to say that if you liked Ruth Ware’s books then you’re sure to like this one. 😬😂 I do hope your thoughts for this one will be much much more positive though.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a nice change of pace between the usual SFF stuff. Might go with The Turn of the Screw first, though – I knew I read about something similar recently, and indeed – there was a wonderful review of The Turn… that put this book on my TBR 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah I definitely need to pick up The Turn of the Screw now though. I feel like I’ll enjoy it even more than The Turn of the Key. But… if someone whose name rhymes with Zola would read and review it first, I’m probably more likely to hunt down a copy and read it myself! 😬😂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly that. I’d imagine The Turn of the Screw is something you would have read. Have you? This novel seems to have been inspired by that classic.

      P.S. I don’t know how you did it but I really appreciate how you binged through all my posts. You really didn’t have to but won’t lie that I’m always happy to hear your thoughts on everything!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OMG Lashaan I would never have been able either to read it either to stop reading it!!! Just seems like one of these reads that pull you in and don’t let you go before the last page!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. GAHHHHHH I’m not sure that I could live in a house so wired up!! Especially as what is essentially a servant. And as a nanny I would totally want to meet the children BEFORE moving out to the middle of no where… I assume that she is accused of murdering someone? I felt like I missed that somewhere. I can see why this has a major creep factor. And it sounds like its Ruth Ware’s style to be such a slow build… If the contrast is really spot on it would seem to be a deliberate choice. Great review Lashaan! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah I think I’d have passed on the idea of living in a smart house too but then… the amount of money offered would probably counter my desire to leave… In this story, the delay was short to accept the job and almost impossible to know what the kids were really about unless you spend a whole day with them without their parents hahah You don’t really know what the reason is for her being in a prison and writing the letters (unless you read the blurb). Thanks for reading, Dani!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been so curious about this book (and the author) for a while- so I’m glad to hear it was good 😀 This has such a creepy concept- I love it! And it’s really cool to hear this has a gothic element mixed in with the ultra modern technology. It’s great the ending worked as well. Fantastic review!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just finished reading this and have to admit that the only reason why I didn’t throw this book out after the first few pages was your review. I remember that you enjoyed it. The beginning was absolutely horrendous. But I kept on reading. The second half definitely went on by faster. The explanation really was on a silver platter. It’s definitely not ideal in delivery, but I didn’t really care too much. What I did not like is the unanswered questions. 1. about Jack. 2. about how the loud music and lights that one night were triggered. 3. why did “Rowan” write those letters but never sent them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Goldie. I could maybe give you answers for those questions but if your reading experience didn’t allow you to get those answers, I suppose the author’s story has failed you. I hope your next book will be far more successful.

      What was the last book you did enjoy though? I feel like I’ve only heard you say you weren’t enjoying the books you’ve been picking up or were recommended ever since we first met here.

      Liked by 1 person

        So I’m THAT kind of person?
        It’s not that I didn’t like this one. I just had some … comments on some things…
        It’s not easy to find perfection. You didn’t give it max stars, either.

        I’m picking up “Best day ever” later today. I tried to look for it on your blog, but I couldn’t find a review. Though I think I remember seeing the cover somewhere…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahahahha I’d have a hard time guessing what you favourite genre is too with the amount of complaints you had for all the books you’ve read so far, or movies you’ve seen. I’m guessing thrillers are your go-to, with the occasional SFF?

        I haven’t read that thriller but I’ve seen other bloggers talk about it in the past.

        Liked by 1 person

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