The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 29th, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
“Some situations have no simple resolution; all we can do is steer the course that causes the least harm.”
It’s October, which means I’m obligated to read at least one spooky book. And who do I turn to? The one and only, Ruth Ware. Don’t burn me at the stake, but I think she’s the modern version of Agatha Christie.
In The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She quickly realizes 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. It dawns on her that there’s something very, very wrong about this family, this strange situation, and the inheritance at the centre of it.
I recently got a comment from someone on my Instagram that they were set on reading Ware’s books in order of when they were published. And you know what? I kind of wish I did that, too. I’ve been reading hers out of order and you can really tell how wildly different her writing style is based on when the book was published.
This book shows where Ware shines and where she falters with her writing.
Ware is absolutely fantastic at creating a creepy atmosphere. And it’s perfect here where most of the story is set in a gothic mansion. This book definitely gave off Rebecca vibes, which I really liked.
Every character is so tense that I couldn’t figure out which person was going to snap at any moment and reveal their true nature. But ultimately, establishing a great setting isn’t enough to hold my attention.
The mystery in this wasn’t riveting at all. I found my mind wandering whenever a character was delivering a monologue. I honestly couldn’t care less about the Maggie and Maud mystery. There was too much set up and also way too much noise surrounding it.
I couldn’t keep up with the convoluted mystery because it mostly didn’t make sense! I felt like the character’s motives for their actions to be very weak. It’s like Ware decided to come up with anything to make a connection to this mystery.
I found the reveal to be weak and confusing. I actually went to the Goodreads page to read through the questions and answers to make sure I understood the story! I shouldn’t have to do that with these mystery/thriller books.
And the ending was way too ambiguous. I wanted to know more about what happened to Hal after the whole ordeal. In the end, I found the whole thing to be terribly underwhelming. I know Ware can write dark and unsettling twists and endings, but this didn’t work for me.
I would recommend you read The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Turn of the Key over this one.