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The Turn of the Key

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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.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

337 pages, Hardcover

First published August 6, 2019

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About the author

Ruth Ware

23 books36.1k followers
Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

Find her on twitter at www.twitter.com/ruthwarewriter, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ruthwarewriter or via her website - www.ruthware.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 29,051 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,316 reviews44.2k followers
April 19, 2023
Review of “TURN OF THE KEY”:
FOUR: okay, I loved it, it freaked me out, gave me enough chills, my all nails are shorter, oh, wait a second, I don’t have nails anymore and my arms are covered with stress bites, my hair is in the air, you made a great job, Ruth Ware, I wanted to clap but my hands are still shaking, stars!!!
Let’s take a look: what we have on the menu:
-A naïve nanny who has little secrets is now in the jail, waiting for her murder trial.
-Creepy Victorian haunted house: A big, creepy place surrounded by an eerie, ominous secret garden which is full of poisonous flowers served with charming Scottish gardener/handyman Jack
- Three problem children and a baby (like 80’s movie name, but please be sure this is not comedy): * years old, middle child of the family, Maddie’s irritating behaviors; reminds us of Regan from Exorcist with her attitudes as if she’s embodied by devil ( at least she didn’t do the terrifying head spinning) and Hereditary’s Charlie (At least her head hasn’t been cut out of her body with a car accident)!
Her little sister Ellie is not evil child but she was just annoying, spoiled, one which means she is regular 5 years old kid  Both of the girls come together for the mission to irritate poor nanny! You hear the alarm bells ringing right?
- A sinister 14 year old sister joins the evil sisters club on the weekends: Another meaner member of awkward family. You may think they have quite resemblances with “Addams family”! But you couldn’t be mistaken so much because Addams family members are cartoon characters when you compare them with these nerve-racking people.
- A workaholic, snob, show-off mother and he’s flirty husband gives the young ladies his perverted looks! When you read more about their parents’ characteristic attributes, you may realize: The bad apples didn’t fall far from the tree. I still don’t know which one is the worst: The parent or their children?
-Creaking floors, secret attics, ghost stories, runaway nannies! And BAAMM: we have a death child.
So before you order your book and feed yourself with the disturbing, riveting pages of the story, ask yourself, could you absorb all of these nerve-bending details or could goose bumps on your arms and aching on your stomach force you to vomit because of too much pressure and stressful pages?
If you say: “I’m in!”, I recommend you to consume it with lighter foods( greasy popcorn is not a good option especially at the parts of the book you’re introduced porcelain version of Annabelle baby’s head who could cut some parts of your body and make you bleed!) non-alcoholic beverages(You need clear mind to concentrate and enjoy the story.)
So it’s great combination of modern and gothic horror materials. There are too many disturbing characters but it worked perfectly with this well-rounded story telling.
And the ending: It is surprisingly nice touch! Every little detail in this book is important so you have to give full attention for great satisfaction!
It’s fast pacing, one or two sit reading. Sip your soda (preferably didn’t contain any high fructose corn syrup), lay on your favorite couch, silence your loved ones and begin to enjoy this book! It’s one of the best thrillers of this year!
Profile Image for Yun.
522 reviews21.8k followers
February 27, 2022
Ooh, misbehaving children and technology! Are ya scared yet? No? Me neither.

Rowan comes across an ad looking for a live-in nanny at a remote country estate. When she applies and nabs the job, she is thrilled. But it seems the opportunity is too good to be true, and there are malevolent forces at work inside the idyllic house. The story is told with the reveal first, as a child is dead and Rowan is sitting in prison writing to her lawyer pleading that she did not kill the child. She then proceeds to tell him the story of what really happened.

And here is my first issue with this story: Rowan spends a good amount of time in the initial chapters telling her lawyer (and us readers) how important it is that he hears the whole story, every little detail, in order to understand her side. But the truth isn't that complicated and can be summed up in a few sentences. Yet she goes on and on about how he can't possibly understand if she left anything out. Honestly, this style of foreshadowing drives me crazy. If the only way to achieve suspense is to tell your readers repeatedly that the good part is coming, maybe your story isn't that suspenseful?

It doesn't help that Rowan isn't particularly likable or relatable. She exercises poor judgement over and over. Who would jump into a job that four people had previously vacated in just one year? To a regular person, this would raise red flags and they would proceed with caution, but she didn't even ask any questions. And then as odd things start to happen, she didn't reach out to the parents or another adult. She comes across as very melodramatic and silly, and it's hard to feel for her as she works herself into bad situations.

The majority of this story is Rowan trying to get the nanny job (100 pages), and then watching misbehaving children while smart technology around the house also misbehaves (another 170 pages). It wasn't until the last 60 pages that the book got somewhere. I just don't find reading page after page of bratty children acting out to be that interesting nor malfunctioning smart technology to be that scary. When we finally get to the unraveling of the mystery, the twists are pretty unimaginative and straightforward. And the ending was rushed and incomplete, and it left a whole bunch of things unexplained.

This is my third Ruth Ware book, and they've all been fairly disappointing. The premise always seems intriguing, and the mysteries themselves have a lot of potential. But the way they are written, and in particular how stupid and self-defeating the female characters are, make the stories real downers. I keep hanging on, hoping the author would mature and work out some of these story-telling tics, but it hasn't happened yet.

See also, my thoughts on:
The Woman in Cabin 10
The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,487 reviews79.1k followers
October 12, 2022
"Dear Mr. Wrexham,
You have no idea how many times I have started this letter and screwed up the resulting mess, but I've realized there is no magic formula here. There is no way I can make you listen to my case. So I'm just going to have to do my best to set things out. However long it takes, however much I mess this up, I'm just going to keep going and tell the truth."

And so begins our tale. I'm sure that, unless you've been walking around with your eyes closed and your ears plugged up, you've caught wind of this upcoming release, but if not let me give you a brief introduction. The Turn of the Key is a compulsive tale of a nanny sitting in jail awaiting trial for the murder of one of her charges. The entire book is told through letters from said nanny to a potential solicitor, recalling the events leading up to her incarceration, along with a few surprise notes at the end. The basic jist of events is that we begin with Rowan answering an advertisement for a nannying position in the Scottish countryside. The catch is that this particular household has been through 4 nannies in less than a year, and the reasons behind this are murkily associated to legends of the estate being haunted. Shenanigans ensue, all hell breaks loose, and much havoc is played out over the course of the book.


As someone who has taken time to warm to Ware's novels over the year, I think she's found her niche in the gothic suspense genre. I truly enjoyed Mrs. Westaway, and I believe The Turn of the Key is her best novel yet. The pacing was 100% what I was praying for, and the creepy elements, such as the locked closet, the poison garden, and the smart home with little to no privacy, were all excellent inclusions and flawlessly executed.


I found that even the supporting characters, especially Jack and Jean, were just as intriguing as Rowan was. My only complaint was with the ending; it felt like a bit of a let down after such a large build up, and even though it worked, it felt like the easy ending to take. The twists may or may not surprise you; I felt that I had most of them figured out, but there were a few smaller twists that took me completely by surprise, which I wholly appreciated. If you're looking for a creepy, character driven psychological thriller that will keep you thrilled and chilled from beginning to end, definitely add The Turn of the Key to your late summer TBR!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
November 9, 2019
I am telling you the truth. The unvarnished, ugly truth. And it is all that. It is unpolished and unpleasant, and I don't pretend I acted like an angel. But I didn't kill anyone. I just fucking didn't.

This wasn't bad, but it was nowhere near as good as I was expecting from an author like Ruth Ware.

The protagonist, Rowan Caine, stumbles upon an opportunity that she considers amazing and I would consider an absolute nightmare-- a live-in nanny to four children, including one baby and one bratty teenager. On top of this, she's staying in the high-tech Heatherbrae House - a refurbished "smart" home with constant surveillance, voice-activated lights, and an app to go with it.

Unlike Rowan, I think this sounds like a horror story. And, honestly, I found the book to be at its strongest when it is drawing on creepy horror tropes like creaking footsteps in the attic, objects going missing and reappearing where the MC knows she already looked, and freaky dolls. The atmosphere is quite good and it would make for a somewhat spooky Halloween read. The combination of nightmare children, a malfunctioning house that seems haunted, and the hunky but suspicious handyman kept me reading.

I also liked how Ware framed the story within a letter to a solicitor. It worked so well that I'm surprised I haven't read books that have done this before (that I recall).

But it just wasn't very strong as a mystery, in my opinion. The culprit can be guessed pretty easily (this really isn't a surprising reveal anymore) and it irked me how it doesn't make sense for Rowan to withhold the identity of the dead child, though of course she does so because once we know who it is, it removes any doubt as to who the killer must be.

The author also dropped a lot of heavy-handed hints about so I even started to work out what was going on there. This part of the story frustrated me, actually, because it kind of changes the whole focus of the book from being about the potential horrors of a nanny living in a "smart" house to something else that didn't interest me half as much.

The ending felt unfinished, too. I wanted more after becoming invested in the story.

I won't rush out to recommend this one, but there are some Halloween-worthy chills to be had here. I'll still check out Ware's future books.

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Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.6k followers
July 13, 2019
This is my third book by the author so by this point I know she's great at creating an atmosphere, a creepy ambiance.

New nanny working for a family living in a remote house in Scotland. Past nannies leaving after the house seems haunted with its dark history and secrets... you get it.

It was interesting, even a bit unique since the main character wasn't likeable and that the format is through letters she's writing to a lawyer from prison since she's accused of murdering one of the child in her care...

The ending was a bit lukewarm in my opinion but I can't wait to see how others feel about it all!

If you're looking for a quick read for the fall and have liked her other books, I would recommend.

Thank you Simon & Schuster for this ARC!
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,194 followers
September 23, 2020
not gonna lie, I kinda hated it. It's just that I struggled to finish it, because it was uninteresting, at least for me. I waited and waited for the part that would freak me out but it didn't come at all. And the twist, well kind of surprising, but it just didn't lead the story anywhere. It was like, here's the twist, do whatever you want with that info. I am quite inexperienced with thrillers, maybe this is how they usually go, however I was not pleased with this. The audiobook was quite well made, I'll give you that, because I don't think I would have finished it in paper form. I fell asleep while reading 2 nights in a row. Thrillers? Aren't they supposed to keep you awake from the thrill?
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,608 reviews10.8k followers
August 28, 2023
Ruth Ware's BEST work yet!!!

Not only is this my new FAVORITE Ruth Ware book, this is also one of my favorite BOOKS OF 2019!!!

As typically happens with me...

I fail to write reviews for the books I love the most. It's just who I am. We know this.

Perhaps some day I will read it again and write a review at that time.

Although, I wouldn't hold your breath. Just know, I loved this and highly recommend!

Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
December 6, 2020
3.5 stars. The audiobook narrator does a great job with this book! I’m not sure how to rate this story. On one hand, the buildup is very slow and many of the “creepy” factors (which essentially things going bump in the night) can get repetitive without much action. On the other hand, I actually liked the red herrings and misleads, because it would provide unexpected reveals (although I did catch a big one halfway through, I liked some of the twists at the very end).
Profile Image for Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill.
575 reviews618 followers
October 3, 2021
Gothic, creepy, a house with a hideous history...OMG yes please!! This was hands down my favorite book by Ruth Ware! All the stars for this one! I have read all her books except The Death of Mrs. Westaway (which is sitting here in my bookcase waiting to be read). Up until this point In a Dark Dark Wood was my favorite, but wow oh wow I loved this book.

Four nannies in a year, umm okay people that should be a sign that there are some real problems at the Heatherbrae House. Granted the house has an extensive history, I mean don't all old homes? That is what Rowan told herself when she applied for the job. Okay Rowan, you just keep telling yourself that. Drawn in by the generous salary and the gorgeous home she decided to roll the dice and try out the job, even with the history of previous nannies not being able to cut it. Were the the rumors true that the house was haunted? Is that what caused them to leave so quickly? Or was it the somewhat difficult children that they were entrusted to? I began to wonder if it was Sandra and Bill Elincourt whom appeared to be a bit challenging to deal with in themselves.

I tell you what, there is no way I would have spent numerous nights in this house like Rowan did. I was completely creeped out as nightfall hit each evening. Things were happening and they appeared to be supernatural. Given the history of this home, there is no doubt that is what would be running through my mind if I were staying there. Add to it this "smart house" with all the amazing, yet creepy features. That would drive me mad in itself. If I were Rowan I would be concerned that my employers were watching my every move, meaning that someone else could be too.

I have read some reviews that said this was a slow start or slow moving book but not for me! I was sucked in from the very first page. This was a really fast pace for me and I couldn't put it down. I read this late into the night. I am really looking forward to what Ware is going to come up with next. I read this with a group of fellow Traveling Sisters! It made for a fantastic group read.

Thank you so much to Gallery/Scout Press for this ARC I received via Edelweiss. I LOVED it!! Thanks you to Ruth Ware for another fantastic book!

Merged review:
Profile Image for Meredith (Trying to catch up!).
817 reviews12.7k followers
June 17, 2019
A nanny in jail accused of murdering one of the children in her care. This is her story.

When Rowan, a young nanny who lives in London, comes across for an ad seeking a nanny to live in a remote area of Scotland, it sounds too good to be true. The pay is high, the house is beautiful, and the family seems lovely. She is warned that previous nannies have quit due to the house being haunted. Rowan doesn’t believe in ghosts, so she pays no heed to the warning. She is hired for the position and packs up her life in London and moves to remote Scotland. But what is beautiful on the surface is hiding deep dark secrets.

One of my favorite things about The Turn of the Key is the house which is named Heatherbrae. Equipped with state of the art technology (the whole house runs off an app), it takes on a life of its own. Juxtaposed with Victorian architecture and Gothic feel, Heatherbrae adds another layer to The Turn of the Key.

The Turn of the Key
is told only through Rowan’s eyes, as she shares what led to her arrest through a series of letters to a solicitor. Rowan is an unreliable narrator and the reader must contend with a lot of telling. While this type of narrative style usually irks me, I found that it works in this case as Rowan provides a detailed account of her time at Heatherbrae. One just needs to continue to question whether or not her version of events is accurate.

There are some twists as well some red herrings thrown in for good measure. I guessed many of the smaller twists, but I completely missed the most significant twist. And I was looking for it! Sadly, my detective skills failed. This twist added an additional layer and made me want to reread from the beginning. The ending felt a bit rushed and I could have done without the final letter. I would rather have been left guessing than be told a less than satisfying conclusion to Rowan’s story. Overall, this is an atmospheric, slower-paced psychological thriller with some intriguing twists and turns.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
382 reviews1,774 followers
November 28, 2019
In the beginning of the book, Rowan is writing a letter to Mr. Wexham, begging for him to help her. She tells him that she is innocent of a crime of murder that she did not commit and that she needs his assistance with her trial that is coming up soon. He is a lawyer and she wants him to prove her innocence.

There is an old house located in a remote area in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish Highlands. Rowan becomes a nanny for a family of three children in this creepy estate. The house has a haunted past. Other nannies left and the family has a hard time keeping nannies. The house has everything that you can imagine and Rowan is getting paid very well. It is a smart house with different technology and it has creepy noises in the night. Dark and disturbing events happen in this house. The parents leave Rowan alone with their children in this estate. What Rowan doesn't know is that she is stepping into a nightmare. There are cameras installed in the house and she is having a difficult time and she knows that she has made some mistakes.

There is something about a Ruth Ware book that makes me excited to read it. I loved The Death of Mrs. Castaway and I knew that I would love this one once I opened the book. This is gothic suspense, a mystery, and a thriller. It is so creepy. I loved the gothic atmosphere and it's elements. The book was quite addicting. It was totally gripping, especially if you like gothic suspense like me. It is so haunting.

I didn't see the twists coming and it had a couple of jaw dropping moments and I loved them. I kept guessing till the very end. I thought the characters were developed well and it was very well written. The ending was so surprising.
This was a Traveling Sister read.

I want to thank Edelweiss, Simon & Schuster and Ruth Ware for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Available Now
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,716 reviews25k followers
November 9, 2019
This is Ruth Ware's latest offering, a chiller of a psychological thriller with its central protagonist, 24 year old Rowan Caine working in childcare in London. She is looking for another post when she come across an incredible job as a live in Nanny for the Elincourt family, the parents Bill and Sandra are architects, living in the remote Scottish Highlands, and the pay for the post is unbelievable. If there is one thing you should beware of, it is that if a job sounds to be too good to be true, then it is, something Rowan is to discover to her cost. At her weekend interview, young Maddie warns Rowan to not take the job, and it seems other nannies employed have left abruptly. The Elincourts have four children from 18 months to 14 years old, a heavy burden of responsibility for Rowan, especially as she is left almost immediately as their sole carer with the parents travelling so often, and it is no exaggeration to say that they are a real handful.

Heatherbrae House itself is a jarring blend of Victorian with all the tech that makes it a smart home, with cameras everywhere and a handy man, Jack, is employed. Strange and eerie happenings create a creepy, menacing and ghostly atmosphere within Heatherbrae, and a litany of incidents culminate in the murder of a child. Rowan is languishing in prison awaiting her trial for the murder, concerned with her legal representation, and writing a letter to a solicitor, Mr Wrexham, proclaiming her innocence of the crime she has been charged with and laying out the circumstances which have led to her present ghastly predicament. She admits to not always being the perfect nanny and true to form with this genre, she is an unreliable narrator and the characters are almost universally dislikeable. This is an intense story of many twists, small and big, slow in pace, and where you are going to have to suspend your sense of disbelief on occasion. The premise of the novel held my interest, although this is far from my favourite Ware book. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,205 reviews3,059 followers
April 27, 2022
This is my first Ruth Ware book and I plan to read more because of the good things I've read about her books. The Turn of the Key takes place in an old home, Heatherbrae House, that has been restored faithfully in parts of it while other parts have been gutted and transformed into the most modern of homes. The entire home has "smart home" features which seem to have been set to an overly intrusive level. Not only that, the features don't always work as intended or don't work at all, making the home seem like it's gone rogue. All this in a very remote setting in the Scottish Highlands.

Rowan Caine stumbles on an ad to hire a nanny for the four children that live in Heatherbrae House. The salary for the live in, full time position, is unbelievably generous and Rowan is more than ready to leave her job at a daycare center. Feeling the need to make sure she gets the job, Rowan's resume is less than truthful although she does have the basic requirements for the job. Once Rowan sees the house in person, she is determined to be sure she is the perfect fit for the family and the position. She gets the job and has to begin within a short time, arriving at the house the day before the parents leave for a week or two of work away from home.

From the beginning of the book we know that Rowan is writing to a lawyer to see if he will defend her murder case. The book is actually a letter to that lawyer, a very long, book length letter, which felt clunky to me at first, until I just set aside that this woman was writing the longest letter I've ever read. Because Rowan is relating her version of what happened at the house, the events of story have already taken place. Rowan is not going to get to the point quickly, she's not going to make a long story short, in her telling, she's going to give her details of her thoughts and feelings throughout the events.

Once I got over the method of telling the story and faced that Rowan was going to take a long time in telling it, I began to enjoy the story more the farther we got into it. Even though Rowan really is a nanny, she is playing a role at Heatherbrae House of being a perfect nanny, rather than her usual quick to anger, quick to slap or grab, messy, sometimes unreliable self. Things at the house, with the house, begin to go lopsided quickly, with strange noises, doors and windows opened, closed, locked, unlocked with no explanation. Cameras are everywhere and the mother of the children will pop in on loudspeaker, from her far away location, to discuss things with Rowan, giving the atmosphere an even more eerie and intrusive feel.

Then there is the angry, belligerent eight year old, scared five year old, and the needy baby with a new nanny who is very ill suited for the job. Add in the fourteen year old, who comes home from boarding school, totally out of control and threatening to tell secrets about Rowan and things go downhill from there. A child dies and Rowan is blamed, thus her letter searching for a lawyer who is willing to believe her and help her.

I guessed what was happening at almost every turn but still, I wanted to know why it was happening and how it was happening and enjoyed learning those things. What I really liked was the very last letter that was written and the final reveal at the end of the book. Now I look forward to reading more Ruth Ware books.

Published August 6th 2019

Thank you to Gallery/Scout Press/Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for this ARC.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,211 reviews19.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 6, 2020
DNF at 45%.

How can a mystery/thriller be this slow and this boring? It’s a thriller: give me action. Suspense. And some character development instead.

I happily spoiled myself for the ending. I still didn’t care. I just didn’t care. 😑😑

No wasting time on stories this year that don��t have me invested by the time I’m almost halfway through it.

I’m so annoyed that this was such a flop.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.5k followers
October 1, 2019
I had low expectations for this because I had heard such mixed things about Ruth Ware, but this was SO GOOD. It took so many of the classic thriller components but made them feel fresh and new and I'm a big fan. I cannot wait to see what Ruth comes up with next.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
January 15, 2020
Creepy, suspenseful, & mysterious!

THE TURN OF THE KEY by RUTH WARE is a compelling, dark, twisted, and haunting mystery thriller that immediately sucked me in and had me totally absorbed within this tale.

Right from the very start there is this intense sense of foreboding that definitely makes this quite the gripping book to read.....it is a slow-burn and the intensity level slowly increases as the story progresses. I absolutely loved the creepy modern gothic vibe going on here and RUTH WARE definitely knows how to deliver an atmospheric, vivid, and hair-raising suspenseful novel that I found to be quite appealing, enjoyable and entertaining.

My only real gripe here that I have though is that I don't always feel that she follows through with some aspects to the storyline. Not sure if she knowingly doesn't follow through with some things or if it is part of her signature technique to be a little bit vague. I've noticed this style of writing in almost all of her books and sometimes it has bothered me and others not so much. This one it didn't bother me as much.

I absolutely loved the format of this novel which was written in an epistolary format (letters). The tone was set right at the very beginning and I thought it followed through right to the very end. I also thought RUTH WARE did a fabulous job with the creepy sounds and the ominous atmosphere with the setting of Heatherbrae House. I was a little bit freaked out and scared which definitely left me a little on edge while I was reading certain scenes.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Intriguing, ghostly, suspenseful, ominous and an extremely fitting representation to storyline. I have an absolute love for Ruth Ware cover designs!
Title: I was immediately intrigued by the title of this book and definitely enticed me to read this book.
Writing/Prose: Haunting, engaging, vividly descriptive, and readable.
Plot: Suspenseful, appealing, eerie, menacing, gripping, perfectly-paced, absorbing, ominous, enjoyable and entertaining.
Ending: A cryptic and satisfying resolution.
Overall: I was immediately interested in this tale and thoroughly enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery, the characters and the storyline. So far this is my favourite book by Ruth Ware! Would highly recommend!

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada and Ruth Ware for gifting me an advance copy of this book.

This review can also be found on our Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:
Profile Image for Kat.
270 reviews80k followers
December 17, 2019
i’ve heard a lot of mixed things about ruth ware in the past, but honestly this was pretty solid. maybe it’s time i try more of her books lol.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,081 reviews59k followers
October 31, 2019
Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware is a 2019 Gallery/Scout Press publication.

Ware is back on track in this tense tale of suspense!!

I have loved Ruth Ware since I read ‘In a Dark, Dark Wood’, yet, I really struggled with her previous book. I didn’t lose my confidence in Ware, however, and eagerly jumped into this, her latest effort, with gusto- and I was not disappointed!!

As the story opens it becomes clear that Rowan Caine, a former nanny, is sitting in prison accused of having killed a child in her care. Through the letters Rowan has written to a prospective attorney, she explains how she came to be there, taking us all the way back to the moment she answered a classified ad for what Rowan would consider a dream job in her chosen field of childcare. Rowan seems thrilled to be considered for such a great opportunity and is genuinely nervous and excited when she is given the job.

The technologically advanced smart home Rowan gets to live in is fancy and modern, especially the state of the art kitchen, but the enormous venom thrown at her by one of her charges, coupled with a host of strange noises and occurrences, keeps Rowan on edge day and night, turning her dream job into the stuff nightmares are made of…

I think Ware’s most prominent asset, is her ability to quickly create a mood or atmosphere which sneakily draws readers into her well-constructed web. Once ensnared readers soon find themselves trapped, unable to escape until the very last sentence of the book has been read. This story is hypnotizing, and Ware kept me off guard from start to finish…. And what a finish!!

While I had some suspicions, I was mostly caught off guard by the twists and although the ending is a bit ambiguous, I liked it!! I have my own theories, and others will have theirs, making this a fun book to discuss, debate and dissect.

The author is gifted at dropping clues and hiding little Easter eggs within the story, but I was so distracted by the mind games I didn’t pick up on them until after I’d finished reading the book.

Very, very sneaky and clever of Ms. Ware! Well done! I thoroughly enjoyed this one and of course am eagerly anticipating her next release!
Profile Image for Peter.
2,802 reviews501 followers
February 7, 2020
This was a very compelling murder mystery with an interesting narrative perspective (letter to an attorney) and a very shadowy main character (Rowan). Rowan Caine is the new nanny in a well-to-do household in Scotland. But you come to know from the very beginning that something is a bit strange with this woman. At the new job the children are terrible and she is frightened by uncanny noises in the attic. The complete house is computer controlled. Then the girls lead her to a poisenous garden with dangerous flowers on the property where a former owner cultivated his hobby. Well, the whole house hasn't the best reputation in the small village. Who is Rowan Caine and why did she really apply for the job there? When a murder happens things turn twisty and extremely exciting. The author did an absolute stunning murder mystery here in the best Hitchcock tradition. You have all the ingredients needed and the book keeps you on the edge of your seat. The characters are well crafted, the twist and denouement at the end is striking. Absolutely recommended. If you're looking for an intriguing page turner that gives you the creeps, this is it!
Profile Image for Kylie D.
464 reviews516 followers
November 29, 2019
Having loved Ruth Ware's previous books I was looking forward to this one with great anticipation. I was greatly disappointed however. There's build up, and build up, and more build up. Then we get to the crunch and it's over in a few pages. The first 320 pages were boring and the last 20 pages were rushed.

Enough said.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.8k followers
November 9, 2019
i absolutely despised ruth wares 'the woman in cabin 10' and completely swore her off as an author because of it. so no one is more surprised than me that i enjoyed this, let alone picked it up. you guys seriously have some major persuasive talent going, because its your good reviews that got me to give RW a second chance.

i think the unique formatting is a tremendous asset to the story. told through letters written by rowan to a potential solicitor as she sits in prison, the story is a last minute effort to plead her innocence. it feels as if rowan is not only trying to convince the lawyer to take her side, but also the reader. and i liked that. it made me feel more invested in what rowan has to say.

i will admit that there are some slow parts and the ending didnt really make me gasp in surprise like i thought it would, but still, this is highly entertaining and i was 100% focused the entire book.

not sure RW is off my blacklist yet, as im still unconvinced that liking this book wasnt a total fluke, but i may be willing to put her on probation for the time being. lol.

4 stars
Profile Image for Deanna .
692 reviews12.5k followers
February 5, 2020
This was a group read/listen that I’m really glad I participated in. This novel was on my TBR, but I don’t know if I would have gotten to it as quickly if it hadn’t been selected for the January group read.

The story pulled me in right from the start. Ruth Ware sure knows how to create an atmosphere. I thought the narration was great (except that *creep creeeeep* noise really started to get to me).

The storyline was intriguing and there were some great twists that I didn’t see coming (especially the ending!) I did feel that a few things were left unfinished but overall, I really liked how it came together in the end.

I’m definitely looking forward to more from Ruth Ware!
Profile Image for Holly  B .
851 reviews2,030 followers
November 9, 2019
The new nanny, Rowan Caine, has her hands full at Heatherbrae House.

This was my fourth novel by the author and I had to see how this one would compare.

I've read several "nanny" stories and find myself drawn to the whole idea of having someone live in your home and act as a child minder. Rowan gets this "dream" nanny job and finds out that the last several nannies didn't work out.

The house was probably my favorite aspect of the story. It was renovated to be a "smart" home and the owners could spy on all the goings on, turn lights on/off and even ask it to launch an audio book for the children. I kept thinking Alexa controls the day ( no thank you!)  Really creepy vibes for sure.

The build-up was quite slow and I wanted more showing than telling and some better developed characters. There is a twist ( and lots of nanny tips), but it really didn't surprise me much at all. The ending was just too rushed with so many loose ends.

I did read it quickly and there is suspense that kept me entertained, so I give this a 3 STAR rating.

Thanks to NG / Gallery for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Out August 2019
Profile Image for Carole.
505 reviews93 followers
October 4, 2019
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware is my favorite thriller so far this year. Ruth Ware, often referred to as the Agatha Christie of our time, has penned her best yet. Rowan, a child-care worker, unexpectedly comes across an online ad for a nanny position in Scotland. It's one of those opportunities that seems too good to be true: a job taking care of children in a high-tech mansion in the Scottish Highlands with an income that can't be matched. To her surprise, Rowan gets the position to care for four young girls, from toddler to teen. Before long, one of the children is killed and Rowan is imprisoned, charged with murder. What happened in such a short time? In a letter written to a lawyer she hopes will defend her, she explains that the children she had met at the interview were not well-behaved, as she had been led to believe. The large house was monitored with cameras in every corner, with speakers turning on and off, day and night. She could not trust the estate handyman, the only other adult on site. And Rowan was left alone with the children during her first days there. The novel proceeds at a slow pace, with new clues dispersed here and there, leaving the reader wanting more. This is a novel for all mystery readers, especially those who want a little cringing with their reading. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Peter.
472 reviews2,558 followers
November 9, 2019
Turn of the Key is an unnerving story told by a murder suspect as she recounts the background and incidents leading to the death of a child while she was its nanny. Rowan Caine is the nanny and she is writing the story in the form of a letter to a solicitor, Mr Wrexham, requesting his services to defend her. Within the story, there are periodic passages where she speaks directly to Mr Wrexham outlining how her story may be considered and continuously stating her innocence, no matter how the evidence looks. As a technique, it was used to remind the reader that this is only one account and perhaps a very unbalanced and disconcerting version, but I felt it slightly distracting on more than one occasion.

Rowan applies for the nanny position with Sandra and Bill Elincourt, and their 4 daughters ranging from 18 months to 14 years old. The family live in a remote part of Scotland in a house that jolts between new and old. The Victorian architecture of the building clashes abruptly with the high-tech sensor and communication technology that controls features throughout the house. Door access, lighting, heating, curtains, music and room-to-room communications all offer an opportunity to mix faulty operation, malicious intent and/or paranormal interference. Before Rowan has even taken up the position, young Maddie warns her not to come as the “Ghosts wouldn’t like it.”

There is a theme of uncertainty littered throughout the story, from the reliability of the accused’s narration to the contrary characters and the split personality of the house itself. Everything that happens is projected through the house and so many nannies have previously left feeling threatened as the house could be harbouring something sinister. With so many flawed characters it often adds to more realistic personalities and relationships, but in this case, I found it difficult to empathise and connect with any character as their personalities were all disagreeable and distant.

Sandra and Bill are partners in their own architectural business and constantly travel. In fact, they first leave Rowan alone with the children only 2 days after she starts. Rowan has at best embellished her CV and feels the struggle to maintain the professional image she created and wrestles with bubbling anger that threatens to spill over into how she deals with the children, especially as they continuously test her resolve.
“I hate you too! I wanted to scream after their retreating backs, as they padded quietly away into the media room to fire up Netflix. I hate you too, you vile, creepy little shits!”
The plot sets up various possible routes and each offers equal plausibility and opportunity. There is a final twist that I didn’t expect and that deserves a lot of credit as it wasn’t even on my radar.

The Victorian Smart house, mixed with a dark history, provides a unique canvas to play out a family constantly in flux as nannies are forced to leave until one nanny puts up a battle and a child dies. I felt the pace of the book was slow but the main disappointment was that the characters didn’t cry out to be championed. I would rate 3.5 stars but still recommend the book and I’d like to thank Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,283 reviews2,451 followers
December 14, 2022
Ruth Ware has a great plot to discuss in this book.

She tells us about a woman who is looking for a job as a nanny to four children living in an ultramodern "smart" home. Everything looks like a perfectly crafted journey for Rowan Caine with a good salary package until she arrives at Heatherbrae House. She didn't know that she had signed up for a crazy ride.

The four children she has to look after create a nightmarish life for her. Moreover, everything in the hi-tech home starts malfunctioning. She was already struggling with her life and had a lot of lies to hide. In addition to all the above problems, she starts to have paranormal experiences in the house. Then something terrible happens. This book will tell us what happened to Rowan Caine and the children.

My favorite three lines from this book.
"Better to achieve perfect marks on an easy test than flunk a hard one, that was my motto."

“Kindness is as kindness does.”

"I hadn't let the demons win. Not this time."

The problem with this book is poor editing. The initial part of this book is exciting and gives us a good reading experience. The author takes a lot of time establishing the characters and getting the readers accustomed to Heatherbrae House. Then suddenly, she brings many twists to the story (which are sadly all predictable) and quickly wraps the story in a somewhat unconvincing manner. The last 25% of the book seems to be poorly written compared to the initial 75% of it. Still, this book, as a whole, has good thriller vibes and will be a decent choice.
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