Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware has become one of my favorite authors. I always know I’m going to enjoy one of her books. While I have yet to read her Woman in Cabin 10 novel, I’ve read all her others and The Death of Mrs. Westaway is definitely near the top. 

I was a little hesitant about jumping into this one only because I didn’t love her novel The Lying Game. However, after a slightly slow start, Mrs. Westaway, with its eerie atmosphere and mystery, sucked me in.

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

The story follows Hal, a girl in her very early twenties completely alone after the sudden and tragic death of her mother a couple years before. Hal is more or less a struggling tarot card reader on the England coast. One day she gets a letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. While she knows it’s a mistake, she figures she can use her cold-reading skills to accept the money. Soon Hal finds herself at a stranger’s funeral and staying at the estate where it soon becomes apparent that something is very wrong about this strange situation. 

Never believe it, Hal. Never believe your own lies.

I thought that the characters were written well though we get a more fleshed out character out of Hal then the others. Hal, while young, had to mature fairly fast and she definitely reads that way. I liked that some of that young vulnerability came out in some scenes, adding another layer to her. The other characters seemed to be this weird mixture of main and secondary characters; also well written. 

One of the things that I love about Ware’s writing is her beautiful prose and her ability to make her book’s settings very atmospheric. Unsurprisingly, Ware did a great job weaving together the plot and setting in this novel. While set in modern times, there was this Gothic and creepy feel to the story, which I highly enjoyed. In the beginning, there is the main mystery of why Hal was sent the letter in the first place, but then a few other intriguing mysteries show up along the way, keeping me guessing until the pivotal moment towards the end.

The literal meaning is, as you say, ‘after me comes the flood’—but the real meaning is something more profound and ambiguous. . . . It means either, ‘after I go, everything will collapse into chaos, because I have been the only person holding up the dam,’ or else something even darker.

True, the characters are written to not always make the best decision or not to see the truth when it’s right there or if everyone just stopped lying, the story would be short – but where is the fun in that?    

If you’re looking for an eerie, twisted, mystery thriller, definitely consider Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

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