The Death of Mrs. Westawayby Published 29 May 2018
|The Death of Mrs. Westaway.pdf|
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 centre of it.
"The Death of Mrs. Westaway" Reviews
NEVER BELIEVE YOUR OWN LIES.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a cleverly crafted atmospheric mystery fueled by deceit. Since I was not a fan of The Lying Game, I was hesitant to read this, but I am so glad I did!
Struggling tarot card reader, Hal, aka Harriet Westaway, finds herself in a moral quandary when she receives a letter naming her as a beneficiary in her grandmother’s will. She believes a mistake has been made as her grandparents died long before she was born. Even though she knows that what she is doing is wrong, she is so desperate for money that she decides to travel to the funeral and play the role of the rightful heir.
Hal travels to eerie Trepassen House, her “late grandmother’s” crumbling estate. She thinks that she is only going to inherit some money, but she soon learns that she has been left much more. At the estate, she meets her “uncles” and uses her keen observation skills to learn more about the creepy family that inhabited Trepassen. When Hal realizes that she has a legit family connection to these Westaways, she begins to dig for more information which leads her into grave danger.
The mystery surrounding Hal’s past kept me intrigued, but it was really Hal’s character that kept me turning pages. Her character is what I loved most about this book. Hal has spent most of her life observing vs. being the center of attention, which has enabled her to master reading people. She can use this skill to deceive, but she has a generous nature. At the same time, she is also fighting to survive and must take what she can. She is often referred to be as being mousy or weak, but her character exemplifies the notion that those who observe are more powerful than those who need to be the center of attention.
Trepassen House also plays a large role. The thickly woven atmosphere surrounding the house transported me. Even though the events take place in the current moment, I felt like I had gone back in time while reading this as it is reminiscent of classic mysteries.The tarot card readings and the constant presence of magpies also contributed to this feeling.
This is not a book focused on fast-paced action, but rather on slowly unveiling the nuances surrounding the mystery. Subtle clues are planted throughout, but all does not come together until the end. This is a mystery with many layers; I found it to be intriguing, intelligent, and entertaining. I was satisfied with how things played out. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is one of my favorite reads of 2018! I recommend for those who enjoy slow-burn classic mysteries.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.
First and foremost, I'm happy to say that RUTH WARE IS BACK! I've been a fan of Ruth Ware since Day 1. In a Dark, Dark Wood was such a good debut light-mystery novel and The Woman in Cabin 10 was one of my favorite mystery novels of all time. After my disappointment with The Lying Game, I still was hopeful for The Death of Mrs. Westaway . Ruth Ware went back to her roots with The Death of Mrs. Westaway and created a robust, multifaceted, and fascinating story. Seriously guys, I read this 360+ page book in one sitting!
Harriet (Hal) Westaway is a young twenty-something year old tarot card reader in Brighton, England. She is struggling to pay the bills; barely making rent while her business is providing dismal financial stability. With loan sharks out to enforce their illegal and exploitative payment plans, Hal is looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. Her mother died years ago, and she has no family to lean on—she is utterly alone. As Hal checks her mail, she receives notice that her grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway, has recently passed away and has left Hal an inheritance of some kind. Hal believes this to be a clerical error of some kind because her grandparents have been dead for years. Desperate, Hal decides that she can fraudulently try and claim this inheritance as her own—she's been conning innocent people for years as a tarot card reader and this will just be another gig for her.
When Hal arrives to the Westaway family home, she quickly finds herself immersed in a rich family history that quickly starts to crumble. Something is wrong with this family, but Hal just can't seem to grasp what is so concerning. In a world of family dynamics, betrayal, and greed; The Death of Mrs. Westaway delivers a realistic mystery crime-fiction novel that will keep you hooked from page one.
I know it's lame to compare author's works to each other, but in order to show the reasoning behind my five-star rating for The Death of Mrs. Westaway , I'm going to have to tell you how this story differs from Ware's other works. At its core, The Death of Mrs. Westaway provides a lot more atmospheric undertones than anything she's ever produced. Its gothic atmosphere provides a higher level of suspense that I have yet to see in anything else. This story is a lot more dense than In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10; you can really see the progress Ruth Ware has made in her writing and she continually fine tunes it in this story. For about a good 30% of the book, we have the characterization of Hal set perfectly. At first, I immediately felt that this was going to be a slow burn novel, but I was wrong because everything comes full circle. We see Hal's desperation come to life and her willingness to deceive to survive. Hal is not the typical alcoholic unreliable narrator that we have come to grow tired of in every suspense novel that has been published since 2015. Hal is entertaining and honestly refreshing. When we meet the secondary characters, they are all unique and interesting in their own way. Each character in The Death of Mrs. Westaway is fully developed and multi-dimensional.
After reading the synopsis, throw everything you think about Ruth Ware novels out the window. The Death of Mrs. Westaway will keep you guessing until the very end (seriously, I thought the story was winding down and was completely thrown off by the end). Thank you Scout Press/Gallery Books for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Death of Mrs. Westaway will be released May 29, 2018.
One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret
Never to be told.
2.5 stars! Ruth Ware in my opinion has the absolute best sinister, gothic, and enticing covers ever! They have always grabbed my attention and gave me that feeling that I just HAD to read the book. It is just too bad that my excitement didn’t follow through to the end of this story though.
THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY by RUTH WARE is a slow-building, dark, atmospheric, and gothic mystery that had me somewhat engaged, entertained, and interested enough throughout this book to keep me turning those pages but I was never truly invested in this story though.
When reading a thriller &/or suspense novel I like to be able to work out the why and how and be pleasantly surprised by the little pieces of puzzles that were left along the way that I either missed or didn’t think were important to the twists or reveals. I thought some pieces of that puzzle were left out here and in some instances didn’t match-up so therefore this novel just didn’t work for me.
I also had a little problem with keeping all the characters straight as they all just seemed to roll up into one and it was really hard to differentiate between who was who, which I found rather distracting.
I will say though that I absolutely loved the setting of creepy Trespassen House and the atmosphere of this novel though! I also thoroughly enjoyed Hal and her tarot card readings. I thought the explanations and the meanings behind the cards were quite thought-provoking and had me really interested. However, unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to make this story really work for me. Even though I feel like I wasn’t quite the right reader for this one, I still recommend giving it a try!
Thank you so much to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada and Ruth Ware for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book in exchange for a review!
Review written and posted on our themed book blog Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading.
Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley.
One for sorrow. Two for Joy. Three [stars] for Ruth Ware's The Death of Mrs. Westaway!!!
Harriet (Hal) Westaway grew up with a loving mother in a tiny flat, until every child's worst nightmare comes to fruition. In one fateful moment, Hal loses her mother and the only security and family she has ever known. Having spent the last few years adjusting to such a life altering change, she has settled into living day-to-day working as a tarot card reader on a pier. Hal is running low on cash, she's got loan sharks hunting her down like Jaws on Amity Island.
Out of nowhere, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her an inheritance from a wealthy woman she is told is her grandmother. Hal knows an entirely different story of her upbringing, her grandparents and her entire life - she knows this letter was not meant for her. Despite this, her desperation leads her to attending the funeral, attempting to con this family into believing she is who they say she is. From here, things slowly descend into mayhem.
You can’t influence fate, or change what’s out of your control. But you can choose what you yourself do with the cards you’re dealt.
Hal was by far my favorite part of this story. She was strong-willed, smart, and a genuinely likable character. Mystery / thriller novels fall short for me a bit when they rely solely on interesting over likable characters and I appreciate that Ware didn't fall into the unreliable narrator trope here. Ware did an exceptional job of showing how things snowballed with Hal, and despite making a semi-shifty choice in trying to defraud this family, you could empathize and understand her plight.
However, past Hal, none of the characters held much depth for me. The banter between the Westaway family fell flat and I don't feel like there was a lot of development into who they were as people and what had brought them to this point and their animosity towards the situation. This read less like a mystery and more like a family drama but there wasn't enough back story to understand the intricacies at play. We are given Hal's sole POV with a few diary entries from before she was born thrown in. These diary entries are really the only look into the past we get - aside from a few conversations between family members. I would've loved to have seen just a bit more to fully develop that plot line.
She had discovered that the most important truths often lay in what people didn’t say, and learned to read the secrets that they hid in plain sight, in their faces, and in their clothes, and in the expressions that flitted across their faces when they thought no one was watching.
In the end, this was a disappointment for me because I felt like there was so much promise here and I was a bit let down. The beginning draws the reader right in with intrigue and mystery but this quickly plateaus for what felt like a large portion of the book. Things don't really pick back up until the last 50 or so pages and then I ran into some implausibility issues that suffered due to a lack of development into the character. That being said, the final few twists were a complete knock-out I did not see coming from a mile away!
I completed this as a Traveling Friends read and I can definitely see why this book appeals to so many, it just wasn't my particular brand of story. Anyone interested in slow burn mysteries, family sagas and atmospheric, gothic vibes would likely enjoy this story. Ware clearly has her writing chops well honed, despite this one falling a bit short for me.
Ruth Ware writes an eerie, atmospheric and dark twisted murder mystery in the style of the golden age of crime classics with elements of the gothic. 21 year old Harriet 'Hal' Westaway lost her mother in a hit and run car accident, and took up the mantle of becoming a tarot reader at the Brighton Pier. Alone in the world, she is in dire financial straits, owing money to unscrupulous loan sharks, and facing a bleak and unpromising future. Out of the blue, she receives a letter that tells her of an inheritance left to her by grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway, which she knows is an error, as both of her grandparents have been dead for a while. Her predicament and circumstances drive her to fraudulently pursue the inheritance, as she attends the funeral and travels to Cornwall to the huge and dilapidated Trepassen House, surrounded ominously by magpies. It doesn't take her long to become aware that something is terribly wrong. This is a story of a dysfunctional family, sibling conflicts and rivalry, intrigue, legacies and buried secrets from the past.
Placed in the attic room, Hal faces hostility from all quarters, apart from Ezra. The elderly, menacing and strange Mrs Warren, the housekeeper appears to have own secrets as well as knowing secrets of others. Hal embarks on a search for the truth aided by her trusty tarot cards, as she wonders what her mother's involvement with the family is. As the past threatens to reveal itself, Hal has to draw on her inner resources as danger swirls around her. Hal is a flawed character, who you can forgive her deceptions, given the precarious nature of her finances. She is brave and courageous in the face of the dark Trepassen House and all the secrets held within its walls. Ware gives us a well plotted tale with rich evocative descriptions. This is a creepy, absorbing and entertaining read which I thoroughly enjoyed with its echoes of Rebecca, Agatha Christie and more. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.