The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Posted November 16, 2019 in review Tags:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Pages: 352

Genres: Thriller
Setting: Scotland
Source: Library
Narrator: Imogen Church
Also by this author: One by One
Amazon iBooks Audible

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.

The Turn of the Key was my first foray into Ware’s works so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The premise was intriguing for sure-was this a ghost story? Crazed killer? Unreliable narrator???

The story opens with Rowan writing a letter to a potential lawyer she wants to take her case. Its through this letter we learn what happened to her at Heatherbury House in Scotland. The house itself is almost a character in the story. From the super creepy cameras everywhere, to the locked door only Jack has a key to, and to the poison garden on the grounds, the house provides lots of unease for Rowan. Then there is the fact that the parents left her alone with the kids within 24 hours of her arrival. And finally, there are the kids. Petra, the baby, is adorable, but Rowan is disturbed by Maddie and Ellie’s behavior at times. Seriously, Maddie could be really creepy. But, she could also be a typical brat at times, so then you start wondering what is going on.

The only other adults in the home are a cantankerous housekeeper and Jack, the handyman. Rowan recounts her time at Heatherbury house and each day gets slightly stranger. The synopsis tells you that a child dies and most of the book you are trying to figure out who will die and how. There are so many options-the poison garden, the possible ghosts that have scared off other nannies, or someone living in the house. And throughout it all, Rowan reminds us she has been lying a LOT. So, as a reader, you start to question her reliability as a narrator. Is anything she said true?

I was totally loving The Turn of the Key…right up until the end. So, if you don’t want some slight spoilers, don’t read further. View Spoiler »

I listened to the audio of The Turn of the Key and Imogen Church is brilliant. What a delightful narrator! She does such great accents and she really brought the story to an exciting level.


  •   POV: 1st (in the form of a letter)
  •   Tears: no
  •   Trope: murder mystery
  •   Series/Standalone: stand alone
  •   Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Tess Gerritson, Riley Sager, Lisa Jewell…then you will probably like The Turn of the Key!


The Turn of the Key

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3 responses to “The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

  1. Colour me intrigued from your review. It seems like a different idea. I usually get frustrated by unreliable narrators because I hate continually questioning if what I’m reading is true but I also like how it can keep you guessing. It definitely sounds like there was a lot of questioning and doubts happening in this one but I do want to check it out and see if it’s as good as you make it sound.

    Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity recently posted: Sunday Summary // 17.11.2019
  2. I loved this book so much and Imogen Churh was the perfect narrator for it too. I’m a big fan of Ruth Ware at this point – everything I’ve read by her is so good. I didn’t love the ending, but I was okay with it. I think the point was that she didn’t tell anyone about her sister’s letter and she never got out. That’s my thought.

    Great review 🙂

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