Book Reviews · Horror · Thrillers

The Turn of the Key

What kinds of things scare you? During this time of year, our thoughts may turn to ghosts and zombies, killer clowns, or other murderous characters from horror movies…the “things that go bump in the night.” A close friend once told me that she found psychological thrillers far more frightening than traditional horror movies, because they seemed much more likely to happen in real life. This actually makes a lot of sense, but I still maintain that killer clowns are 100% plausible…and that IKEA would be a lousy place to be stuck in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key is technically a psychological thriller rather than a horror story, but it certainly belongs on my list of October Horror Reads. If you’ve ever worked in a position where you were responsible for taking care of other people, especially kids, it may seem even scarier to you.

The Turn of the Key tells the story of Rowan Caine, the most recent in a string of nannies working at Heatherbrae House. Her salary may be phenomenal, but there’s something strange going on in the Elincourt’s state-of-the-art smart house. When Rowan is left alone with her three young charges the day after her arrival, things begin to go sideways fast. The girls become uncooperative and rude, the smart house systems seem to malfunction at the worst possible times, and then there are the noises that are keeping Rowan up at night…and the curiously locked closet in her bedroom.

The fact that Rowan’s story is told from a prison cell, through letters to a lawyer she hopes to retain for her defense, is part of what makes the novel so intriguing. From the very beginning of the book, the audience knows that something is going to go horribly wrong with her new position as the Elincourt’s nanny, and that someone in her care is going to die by the end of the novel.

The Turn of the Key was one of those books that I had a hard time putting down and walking away from, mostly because of its fast-paced and suspenseful narrative. Even knowing that the novel would end with Rowan being accused of murder, I found myself almost desperate to find out how events unfolded. If you’re looking for a quick, intense read, this novel is a really good option.

If you’re currently participating in the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, The Turn of the Key does fulfill a few of this year’s prompts, including: “a book that’s published in 2019,” “a book about a family,” and “a book with no chapters, unusual chapter headings, or unconventionally numbered chapters.”

If you decide to check out Ruth Ware’s latest novel, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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