‘The Turn of the Key’ is suspense at its best. The story begins with the letter to the barrister, and we quickly learn that the child died when Rowan worked as a nanny. This immediately hooks us in, as we know that the stakes are high. At the end of the book, we learn who was responsible for the crime, but we are not sure if the said barrister, Mr Wrexham, will take her case. We also not learn if she succeeds in her trial. This is a smart approach, as we leave the story early, just after the satisfactory ending.
Rowan as a protagonist is in many ways reminiscent of Rachel Watson from ‘The Girl on the Train.’ She is simply this everyday girl that everyone can identify with. She is working class, and her job involves working with children. She likes to drink, she is messy, chatty, has some good friends and has a difficult relationship with her mother. Until one day, when she searches the net for we don’t know at this stage, she discovers this dream job. It is a live-in nanny position in a remote newly-renovated house in Highlands (Scotland) with £55,000 per annum (gross, including bonus). The job has some other perks such as the use of a car and eight weeks’ holiday a year.
We immediately fall in love with Rowan, as she is just an everyday girl. She hates her job, and her previous employer complains about her. They say that she might not like working with children. It appears natural at this point of the story that she doesn’t wish to use the reference from the current job when she applies for a new post.
The interview goes splendid. Rowan is adamant that she wants the job as she loves children. She builds a connection with Sandra Elincourt, her new potential employer and eventually, she gets the job. Rowan also immediately falls in love with the house, which is very arty and high-tech, as Sandra and Bill Elincourt are architects.
Ruth Ware is good at playing well with the convention of a haunted house. Rowan constantly hears some noises and steps in the attic. She can’t sleep, and she is aware that some of the previous nannies left because the house was haunted. Ruth Ware also plays with some social conventions, such as Rowan’s boss, Bill, is hitting on her.
The most interesting twists come towards the end. We learn that Rowan is not really Rowan. We quickly learn that she might have lied to cover her not so experienced CV. She wasn’t a supervisor in the previous place, and she didn’t have so many years of experience as she claimed. This satisfies us for a bit until the next revelation.
The best twist is what she really tried to find when she was surfing the net first coming upon the job advert. She was looking up for her father, and her father is no one else but Bill Elincourt.
Overall, I recommend ‘The Turn of the Key’ to all. It is my first book by Ruth Ware but definitely not the last.