Ruth Ware has been on my radar for quite some time, especially this book. I wanted to read it last year for October but then got on to something else.
I have wanted to pick it up several times this year but I have heard such mixed reviews that I just wasn’t sure which book to pick as my first Ruth Ware experience.
Finally, after much debate, I just decided to go for it and read this book as my first Ruth Ware book since I loved the premise of the summary. It was an interesting read for me and not quite what I was expecting but yet at the same time, exactly what I was expecting if that make sense.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fourth novel.
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
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. (summary from Goodreads)
Let’s hit the high notes first. I loved the atmosphere and gothic feel of this book. It had all the things that I love love love about gothic books—dark family secrets, a crumbling old house, a semi crazy housekeeper. I adored all the gothic things in this book as well as the atmosphere. I couldn’t put it down for that reason. If I was basing this review on gothic atmosphere alone I would easily give it 5 stars.
But I had to take into account some of the other parts of this book. The characters were all interesting and had their own motives for their secrets and their reactions, but I didn’t love any of them overly much. This isn’t uncommon in gothic lit so I wasn’t expecting to love the characters. But I was hoping for more of a connection to Hal herself. I liked her, but I didn’t love her and I am just not sure why. The only thing I can say is there were times when she played the meek mouse character too well and I had a hard time believing she had a ‘fight’ in her. It seemed like a reach for her character and I think I had a hard time connecting to her because she played the meek young girl a little too well.
There were parts of the story that seemed unnecessary for me too. For example, the Mr Smith plot seemed in the end, anti-climatic and unnecessary for the overall story. I would also have liked to have seen more about Maggie and Maud and that fateful summer. I felt like that could really have been explored more in depth rather than focusing on the Mr Smith plot.
I also wanted more murder. The first half of the book spent a lot of time building up the family secrets and so much emphasis was put on Hal and her mother. The murder piece of this story doesn’t come until late in the story and I would have liked to have seem that played up a little more than it was. Overall it worked but I felt like the author stopped short of really going all in for the murder element.
This was such a hard book to review because I loved the gothic mood and the story did keep me guessing until the end, even though I had my suspicions, I thought it was great how it all unfolded in the end. But yet there was a part of me that just didn’t love how it all came together—maybe the pacing felt off? The end went quick but the first half seemed a little on the slower side for me so maybe that was the reason. At the end of the day I decided to give this one 4 stars.
Book Info and Rating
Published May 29th 2018 by Simon & Schuster audio
Review copy provided by personal collection. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: suspense, gothic lit, mystery