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The Turn of the Key


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fifth novel.

When Rowan stumbles across an ad for a live-in nanny, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—with a staggeringly generous salary. And when she arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” house fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What Rowan doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and Rowan in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, Rowan struggles to explain the unravelling events that have 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 children, 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.

Rowan 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.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Author photograph © Gemma Day Photography

Ruth Ware worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language, and a press officer before settling down as a full-time writer. She now lives with her family in Sussex, on the south coast of England. She is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail (Toronto) bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying GameThe Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Turn of the Key; and One by One. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter.

Praise for Turn of the Key:

“Irresistible from first page to final line.”

"Let’s just say that if you’ve got an Echo, you’re going to unplug it as soon as you finish the book. . . . What Ware does beautifully is infuse The Turn of the Key with a creepy Gothic sensibility. For all of the novel’s contemporary touches—particularly the house’s malevolent smart technology—she has delivered an old-fashioned horror story, peopled by children with ‘eyes full of malice,’ a dour housekeeper straight out of Rebecca and an inscrutable handyman."

"A superb suspense writer. . . . Ware is a master at signaling the presence of evil at the most mundane moments. . . . Rowan stays put for reasons we won’t understand until the final act of this tragedy. And that’s when Ware’s gifts for structuring an ingenious suspense narrative really come to the fore. . . . Ware pulls out a stunner on the penultimate page that radically alters how we interpret everything that’s come before. Brava, Ruth Ware. I daresay even Henry James would be impressed." 

“This appropriately twisty Turn of the Screw update finds the Woman in Cabin 10 author in her most menacing mode, unfurling a shocking saga of murder and deception.”

"A ghost story for the twenty-first century, a propulsive gothic thriller with characters you’ll really care about. With this book, Ruth Ware proves she’s the true heir to Wilkie Collins. Creepy, engrossing, and oh-so-hard to put down."
— JP DELANEY, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before

"Ruth Ware has been called the Agatha Christie of our generation… The Turn of the Key is a great read. You’re going to enjoy it very much." 
— DAVID BALDACCI, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Redemption and One Good Deed

"Ware cleverly puts a high-tech spin on [The Turn of the Screw’s] gothic foundations of spellbinding menace set in a remote cavernous mansion with mysterious locked doors and a spooky garden… Ware’s James-like embroidery of the strange and sinister produces a Turn of the Screw with cellphones and Teslas that will enthrall today’s readers… it will not disappoint."
— BOOKLIST, starred review

"Diabolically clever. Twisty and creepy, The Turn of the Key is Ruth Ware's best book yet. Read with a blanket nearby, because you will get shivers up your spine."
— RILEY SAGAR, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Time I Lied

"Ware hits another one out of the park. Fans of hers or anyone with a taste for the disturbing will stay up late devouring this."
— LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review

“Ware does a good job of creating tension. . . . But above all, Ware skillfully lays the bread crumbs to the novel’s satisfying conclusion . . . [that] leaves readers with one final, haunting question, one that will stay with them long after they turn the last page.”
 PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

"Pure suspense, from the first gripping page to the last shocking twist."
— ERIN KELLY, bestselling author of He Said/She Said

“Truly terrifying! Ware perfects her ability to craft atmosphere and sustain tension with each novel.”

"If you've never spent a long weekend devouring a Ruth Ware thriller on a hammock, this is the summer to start. Her fifth novel, The Turn of the Key, is set in the Scottish Highlands and is as compulsively readable as you would expect a Ware book to be."


“We hope it’s not too much to say that Ruth Ware is the future of traditional mystery in contemporary settings; each of her novels takes us into well-worn territory and reinvents for the present day. Her upcoming mystery is no exception.”

"Readers, you’ll want to sleep with the lights on (and your Alexa off) after reading this spooky tale from Ruth Ware."

“The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10 returns this summer with a new novel fans of the thriller genre will love."

"All of Ruth Ware’s books have been creepy and deeply mysterious, in other words . . . awesome! But I think this might be her best one yet."

"The Turn of the Key is a brilliantly crafted, chilling suspense thriller. Clues are seeded through the tale like poisonous plants that you only recognise when it's far too late. Trust no one in this novel except Ruth Ware—she has come up with a totally compelling tale once again."
— JANE CASEY, award-winning author of The Burning

"Superb as expected. . . . Lovely echoes of Turn of the Screw in a contemporary thriller. A masterclass in tension." 
— SARAH PINBOROUGHNew York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes

"Ware’s mastery of the traditional mystery merged with the twisty psychological thriller never fails to impress! While Ware is known for her sudden reversals, I promise you that you’ll never see the end of The Turn of the Key coming. Which means everyone needs to read it so we can talk about that ending."

"A classically spooky thriller involving a potentially murderous nanny and a smart house gone wrong in the Scottish Highlands. Ruth Ware is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, and her fans are legion and loyal."

"A tale full of mystery and suspense that no one other than Ware can weave, The Turn of the Key will keep you on the edge of your seat." 

"Ruth Ware is the master of writing terrifying novels that readers can’t get enough of. From The Woman in Cabin 10 to The Lying Game and a plethora of other smash hits, she knows what it takes to write a truly captivating book."

"Let’s just say that if you’ve got an Echo, you’re going to unplug it as soon as you finish the book. . . . What Ware does beautifully is infuse The Turn of the Key with a creepy Gothic sensibility. For all of the novel’s contemporary touches—particularly the house’s malevolent smart technology—she has delivered an old-fashioned horror story, peopled by children with ‘eyes full of malice,’ a dour housekeeper straight out of Rebecca and an inscrutable handyman."

“Over the course of four explosive novels—In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway—Ware has established herself as one of the best mystery writers working today, and her streak remains unbroken with this, her fifth novel.” 

“Ware is a cunning author with many books and a bag of tricks up her sleeves. . . . [She] never loses track of her storyline and I found this one irresistible from first page to final line.”

"Ruth Ware—one of our favorite thriller writers—is bringing down the house. . . . Read it for a fast-paced ride."

"A clever and elegant update to James's story. . . . Surveillance and home technology slot easily into the conventions of horror: They bring the sense that your environment is invaded and controlled from afar, and that you are never quite as alone as you might wish. . . . The Turn of the Key, and novels like it, point to a new reality. We are all, constantly, haunted."
— NPR 

"Henry James via Black Mirror. . . . While the ambiguity in James’s masterpiece is 'ghosts or madness?,' here it is 'ghosts or glitch?' Unlike The Turn of the Screw, however, Ware picks a lane, deploying a satisfyingly dizzying parade of twists and reveals without leaving much unexplained."

"A Daphne du Maurier-like Gothic thriller set in the remote Scottish highlands but with a modern technology twist. Ware specializes in menacing spellbinders with narrators who may or may not be reliable. . . . She has done a first-rate job of manufacturing and maintaining tension until the final page."

"Twisty and surprising, as entertaining as it is heartrending, The Turn of the Key is a book you will not want to put down."

"One of British author Ruth Ware’s many strengths is her ability to create a disorienting environment that at first dazzles with its ingenuity and luxury—like the cruise ship in her 2016 book, The Woman in Cabin 10—then turns nightmarish. In The Turn of the Key, that place is Heatherbrae House in the Scottish Highlands. . . . The book’s roots may reach back to James, and still further to the Brontë sisters, but it feels as up-to-the minute as the Happy app. The result is an irresistibly readable and scary homage."

"Ware hits another one out of the park. Fans of hers or anyone with a taste for the disturbing will stay up late devouring this."
— LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review

"If you’re looking for a compelling audiobook to join you at the beach this summer, bring your earbuds and give Ruth Ware’s new psychological thriller, The Turn of the Key, a listen."

"Breathlessly atmospheric, The Turn of the Key is a deliciously creepy mystery… Ware's twist on a classic is sure to be a hit for fans of psychological thrillers."
—Shelf Awareness

"Ware at her eerie best."

Praise for Death of Mrs Westaway:

"Spooky and claustrophobic, Ware’s newest release will have you looking over your shoulder and sleeping with the light on . . . A master of atmosphere, Ware has crafted an indelible mystery with The Death of Mrs. Westaway."

"Ruth Ware’s homage to The Turn of the Screw is filled with all of the best gothic elements: an unreliable narrator, an isolated setting, creepy children and a house that functions as its own menacing character. Part epistolary novel, part psychological thriller, The Turn of the Key is compulsively readable and will keep readers guessing until the very last page. . . . Ware is adept at managing multiple plot threads and using them to shock her reader. The beauty of The Turn of the Key is in how it takes the tropes central to the gothic genre, like the isolated haunted house, and gives them a 21st-century spin while still managing to feel fresh and surprising to even the most gothic-averse reader. Straddling the line between horror and thriller, this novel will delight fans of both genres." 

Praise for The Lying Game

“This is the sort of territory where Ruth Ware is most at home. She’s strongest when she’s writing about embattled women, best when characters have a slight sense of privilege about themselves, most effective when events creep along the edges of disaster. Ware’s new book has all of this plus an air of foreboding that won’t go away.”

"Thriller lovers, fasten your seat belts. . . . Read The Turn of the Key today and hold on through the twists. You’ll find yourself racing to the end to see what—and who—you can really believe." 

“An absorbing summer read perfect for a stormy night out at the lake, The Lying Game will capture your attention and hold it until the very end.”

"So many questions . . . until the very last page! Needless to say, I could not put this book down!"

Praise for The Woman in Cabin 10

“Ware plunges the reader headlong into this action-packed, vivid tale, rendering one unable to come up for air until the very last page is turned.”

“A fantastic read. A fog-enshrouded cruise ship, a twisty puzzle of a murder mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie, and unrelenting suspense.  Batten down the hatches and prepare to read it in one sitting!”
— SHARI LAPENA, author of The Couple Next Door

Praise for In a Dark, Dark Wood

“Prepare to be scared . . . really scared! When I read this page-turning book about a bachelorette party gone wrong, I almost bit all my fingernails off!”

“Who pulls a gun at a bachelorette party? The answers are unveiled with Gillian Flynn–style trickery.”

More books from this author: Ruth Ware