I always get so excited to see the latest Ruth Ware hit the bookstores, and I think this is her best one yet. The Death of Mrs. Westaway has a wonderful gothic feel to it, the atmosphere plays on all the common ‘haunted house’ elements, but it didn’t feel overdone at all. In my review of her last book I made the comment that her stories may feel a bit formulaic, but Mrs. Westaway was completely original, and highly entertaining.
The story begins with Hal, a young woman struggling with poverty and desperately alone after her mother dies. Then, in a seemingly perfect turn of events, she receives a letter in the mail claiming she is named in the will of a long-lost relative, and asked to travel to Penzance to claim her inheritance. Of course, in this day and age, normally people would ignore a letter like that, especially if it’s signed by a prince of some sort, but this seems pretty legit so she goes there even though she believes it’s a case of mistaken identity. She takes a long train ride through the country, in gloomy weather, and arrives at a crumbling mansion in the driving rain. Is anyone getting shivers yet?
Once there, she meets the wealthy remaining family who all seem to have hated their recently deceased mother, and of course there is a sufficiently creepy housekeeper who’s bitter until the very end. A brilliantly horrific detail of this house is the room that Hal stays in has locks on the outside of the door!!! I just loved the feeling this book gave me as I read it.
So there’s lots of family secrets in this one, and strange deaths, past and present, that seem to pop up. As I was reading it, I thought I knew what was going to happen, but Ware threw in some really believable red herrings that distracted me, so I was thoroughly surprised by the ending.
This is probably one of her longest books to date; the ARC clocked in at 368 pages so some of the middle sections dragged a bit too much for my liking, but then she would throw in a twist to ramp up the momentum and I forgot all about my short-lived boredom. I don’t have much else to say, other than: she’s done it again! No wonder this woman is a bestseller, I can’t wait for her fifth book.
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