The Turn of a Key is the latest novel by popular Psychological Suspense author Ruth Ware. This new offering is an ambiguous one. The novel has jarring narration and plot twists which may leave many readers uncertain, depending on how they interpret the final pages.
The opening story setup is promising. Rowan Caine takes what seems a cushy, high paying job as a family nanny in a remote manor house in the Scottish Highlands. But troubles for Rowan begin almost immediately. The parents must leave on a work assignment in Europe. The three small children left with Rowan are an unruly handful. Then there's the house itself, which seems to have a sinister presence about it.
There are faint echoes of the Henry James classic The Turn of the Screw. The children whisper vaguely about ghosts somewhere. The novel works overtime to build Gothic creepiness, from phantom footsteps in the night to an ominous locked door.
The structure of the novel has the story narrated by Rowan in letters to an attorney as she is being held in jail after a death in the house. But the plot takes a wrenching turn in the last third when vital new information is suddenly given to the reader that has been withheld from the beginning. Talk about an unreliable narrator! Things turn even more upside down at the conclusion when more new revelations make the reader question the validity of the entire prior narrative.
The Turn of a Key is a psychological enigma which offers one direct answer at the end. But is it the right answer?