About mini reviews:
Maybe you’re not an audio book person, or maybe you are. I provide mini reviews of audio books and give a recommendation on the format. Was this book improved by a voice actor? Would a physical copy have been better? Perhaps they complement each other? Read on. . .
Having listened to Imogen Church read The Woman in Cabin 10, I was excited to see her name again. Church speaks clearly and convincingly pulls off various accents. The Turn of the Key is about a nanny from England who travels to Scotland to watch the children of very busy parents, also from England. The girls are weird, the house makes noises like someone is creeping around in the attic just above the nanny’s bed, and we start seeing the connections to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Although the rich parents bought an old house in an isolated location, no one is hampered by lack of Wi-Fi or cell phone reception. In fact, the technology is overwhelming, the house being converted into a smart house, where everything from the lights and temperature, to the door locks and shower settings are all connected to an app.
I was struck by the way the house is like a Frankenstein’s monster in that the old and new are sewn together to make this weird house that doesn’t quite work but is hideously beautiful. The owners are architects, so of course they made changes to the old house when they bought it, adding new sections and modern design elements. Each section feels like it must get along with whatever it’s attached to.
Ware’s book is a mystery and thriller, making readers ask what is producing the scary noises, why are the children so weird, and is the father a pervert. It’s all framed by the nanny in prison writing to her lawyer. We know one of the children in her charge is dead (which one??), and clearly she’s incarcerated for murder, though she claims she’s innocent. It’s hard to accept that the entire novel is meant to be a letter to a lawyer, given that paper and writing utensils are not free in prison, and I can’t imagine lawyers read letters the size of books.
Ware drops clues all over the place and tromps along at a good pace, until I hit discs 8 and 9 — out of 10. Ware does her thing, just like In A Dark, Dark Wood, and mashes the brakes, bringing the plot to a crawl. I wanted to quit. The nanny is the first-person narrator, and she internally asks the dumbest questions — multiple at a time — to speculate what is going on. “Could it be X? No, X was in X’s room. What if Y was creeping in? Y gives me a bad feeling. But what would Y’s motive be??” Lady, let the reader ask the questions. But, I carried on and was surprised by the ending, which is both more horrible and less scary that I thought it would be.
With Imogen Church at the mic giving characters unique voices and correct accents, I’ve no doubt that listening to the audiobook is the best way to engage with Ruth Ware’s work.