Published by Simon and Schuster on May 29th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers
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There was a lock on the door. Two, in fact. They were long, thick bolts, top and bottom.
But they were on the outside.
This book was so creepy. In a great way. I’m really glad I finally broke down and read a Ruth Ware book.
My sister is a huge Ruth Ware fan so I, of course, in true sibling fashion, had to decide I hated her on principal and avoid all her previous books. Okay, I’m joking, but that dirty wench spoiled most of the endings to the others so I have had to bag an arc to be able to read this spoiler-free. And I loved it! Such a delicious, hard-to-put-down mystery.
What’s not to love about old dark secrets, even older darker houses, and mysterious family legacies?
In The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Hal reads tarot cards on Brighton pier and struggles daily to pay the bills and find food to keep her going. This has been her life since the death of her mother a few years earlier. So when she receives a letter bequeathing a large inheritance to her, she decides to accept, even though she knows it must be a mistake.
Hal travels down to the English coast and meets her “family”. She is taken to the huge, cold and gloomy Trepassen house– a place that holds a thousand secrets within its walls. It soon becomes clear to Hal that something is not quite right, that she may indeed have a history entwined with the Westaways, and that someone in Trepassen house is determined to keep the past hidden, whatever it costs.
Ware builds up to her reveals so well. She had me on a hook the entire time I was reading, pacing the novel just right, gradually pulling back the curtain (and years) on the mystery. She remembers that the whys of mysteries are so much more important than the whos (because, come on, there’s only so many people it can be, right?).
There’s just this overwhelming feeling of wrongness that permeates the novel, and it makes for a very compelling read. Though this is not a supernatural story, the author plays with your mind just enough to have you questioning your own sense of reality and logic. I love the ghostly The Woman in Black vibe, the creepy old housekeeper, and the isolated setting.
The cards tell you nothing you don’t already know. It was her mother’s voice, steady in her ear. They have no power, remember that. They can’t reveal any secrets or dictate the future. All they can do is show you what you already know.
I especially love how the tarot aspect plays into everything, showing symbolism in everyday objects such as the four cups on the table. As Hal’s mother noted, the cards are not magic or psychic, but they do have a way of pointing you in a certain direction, making you notice things you’d ignored before. It was very effective.