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All booksMysteryThe Turn of the Key
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key

Repeat author
Ruth Ware is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game and One by One.

by Ruth Ware

Quick take

From the author of The Lying Game and The Woman in Cabin 10, a jumpy read that feels like putting together a puzzle.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Murder


Why I love it

Sarah Pinborough
Author, Cross Her Heart

Whenever I pick up a Ruth Ware book, I’m reminded why she’s such a star in the over-crowded field of psychological thriller writing. There’s nothing better than an author you can absolutely rely on to deliver clever plotting and tight writing, and for me, Ruth Ware is the real deal. Her new thriller is just brilliant.

I love a book that starts with the ending, and that’s what we get in The Turn of the Key. The novel opens with Rowan, a nanny, writing to a lawyer to explain why the charge leveled against her—the murder of a child in her care—is wrong, despite how guilty she looks. Through these letters, we then see the story unfold: how Rowan—who we somehow don’t quite trust—applied for a job in a remote smart house, how she buried her secrets, and how her life became a nightmare that ended in murder.

Full of genuinely creepy moments, this novel—a clever play on the classic The Turn of the Screw—has hints of a ghost story played out with modern technology. Each page crackles with claustrophobic tension as we follow twist after turn until the breathtaking finale. This is one of those books that doesn’t announce how clever it is, but once you’ve finished, you’ll find yourself turning plot points over and over in your head. And boy, does that ending pack an emotional punch. Now do what I did: Grab this book, grab a coffee, and lose yourself in this story for the day. You won’t regret it!

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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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Turn of the Key.

Member thoughts

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All (17582)
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17781 ratings
  • 53% Love
  • 41% Like
  • 5% Dislike
  • Cedar Grove, WI

    Wow!!I was very taken aback by this story. I feel as though i should have seen the plot coming but was thoroughly surprised at every turn. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ very well written, and a wonderfully twisted end❤️

  • Odenton, MD

    A modern take on “The Turn of the Screw.” This story tapped into my own nightmares - a house that’s forcing the nanny out, strange noises / shadows at night, poorly behaved kids, & a child’s death.

  • Shady Side, MD

    I got this book as an add on and I’m so glad I did, I loved it more than my actual BOTM. I love the horror genre but no other book has ever actually made me feel nervous/scared the way this one did❤️

  • Tulsa , OK

    Another great book by this amazing writer this book you just couldn't put down it really grabs you and doesn't let go until the shocking conclusion a definite must read i absolutely love the way she writes

  • Charlotte, NC

    I really enjoyed this book. It was a little slow in the beginning, but once it picked up it was hard to put down. I would’ve liked a little more in the end, but there was so much I didn’t see coming.

  • Edgewood , MD

    I love how R Ware set up this ‘ghost’ story and the twist at the end. I only wish we could have had an epilogue to let us know if anything changes with Rachel b/c I was hoping it would!! Great read!!

  • Upper Darby , PA

    This was my first book by Ruth Ware and it won’t be my last. I was completely hooked from the beginning and couldn’t put the book down!! I highly recommend it!! The ending had me saying holy crap!!!!!

  • Homer Glen, IL

    I read this book cover to cover in 3 days and that’s not so easy for a busy mom like me. I loved the short fast chapters, and I couldn’t wait to see what happens next. Do yourself a favor & read this.

  • Glendale, AZ

    This was my first Ruth Ware book, and I can’t wait to read her other novels! Some of the twists I saw coming, some I didn’t, but I was glued to every page. Great combo of gothic style and technology!

  • southport, CT

    This was the best Ruth Ware book to date. It was the type of mystery that wasn’t predictable at all! As I dove further into each character I couldn’t imagine how it would end up until the last page!

  • Hudson, NH

    I feel like this has been getting mixed reviews with it’s clear nod to The Turn of the Screw. I really enjoyed it though, and thought it was a great modern twist. Also, I never saw the ending coming!

  • Sabillasville, MD

    I was frustrated when I thought I’d never find out who the killer was but it was all revealed in the end....and I hadn’t solved it! I love that about Ruth Ware. It’s a mystery until the very end!

  • Missouri City , TX

    I could not put this book down! It has that creepy factor that might keep you up at night but it’s toally worth it. Is there someone lurking around the house? Is it haunted? Whos out the get the nanny

  • Albany , OR

    Ware yanks us all in with her spine tingling thoughts that arise in the mid night. Amazingly portrayed and written through the eyes of her character, Rowan, who’s hiding a bit more than we are aware..

  • Wichita Falls , TX

    This book was my first exposure to Ruth Ware. After I read this one, I ordered all her books. Now I wait impatiently for more. I did take a few chapters to rope me in, but then I couldn’t put it down.

  • Milford, CT

    I cant read thrillers too often because they can feel to repetitive, but Ruth Ware really got me with this one. I finished the entire book in two days, I was hooked. Probably my favorite thriller yet

  • Belcamp, MD

    Once again Ruth Ware has written another solid thriller. This book had me so engaged that I didn’t want to put it down. Creepy to the point I had anxiety about what was going to happen next. Loved it!

  • Natchez, MS

    This was a page turner from beginning to end! Ruth Ware does twisty novels excellently and her books keep getting better! This has been my favorite of hers. Can’t wait to see what she comes up w/ next

  • Elkhorn, WI

    I’d give this 4.5 out of 5 stars. I was surprised by some of the twists and I liked all the characters as they were presented. The ending was good but I had a question on the dates of the letters.

  • Oxford, FL

    I loved this book. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and ended up gobbling this book up in less than two days. Thrilling and while parts of it are not my favorite , overall this was a wild ride !

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