“Seven for a secret, never to be told.”
This was my first Ruth Ware book, but sadly it wasn’t a hit with me. But looking at my friend’s reviews, I do think I might be in the minority with my feelings. I will say that the atmosphere was eerie and perfect. I will also say that the writing and prose was beautiful. But I’m not someone who reads a lot of thrillers or mysteries, but even I could see all the reveals in this one coming a mile away.
“One for Joy. One for love. One for the future.”
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a story of a girl named Hal who has been grieving the loss of her mother for the past three years. She has had to take up the mantle of her mother’s psychic readings and tarot spreads for the community, making ends meet, and barely being able to hide from the loan sharks who she received money from when she was desperate. But she thinks her luck could change the day that she receives a letter, letting her know about the death of a woman she has never known and an inheritance that could not only solve her money problems, but change her life forever.
Hal feels like she is good enough at reading people, and telling them what they want to hear, that she might actually stand a chance at convincing them that she is a long lost relative, deserving of a fortune. So, Hal uses the very last of her money to attend the funeral of this mysterious woman she has never known, and travels to the estate, Trepassen. But she soon realizes that her mother has visited this place before, and Hal desperately tries to find out what went on over two decades ago that eventually led to her mother not only fleeing, but to never mention any of her past to Hal.
“Never believe your own lies…”
We also are able to see actual glimpses of the past, and events that happened at Trepassen that help piece together everything a bit more. And Ruth Ware is able to add some really amazing, and really creepy, parallels that make you feel really unsettled while reading. Again, the atmosphere of this book is really well done, and I couldn’t help feeling claustrophobic in that attic myself.
This all sounds super good right? Possibly haunted house? Unsolved murders? Family mysteries? Tarot readings? But that’s about where the coolness ends; with the premise. Hal leads the reader to believe she is so very perceptive, but she literally ignores every single thing that would help her unravel this mystery. And not to get into spoiler territory, but you couldn’t have paid me enough to stay in that attic! Especially after the light, the window, the attempted murder. Like, Hal just ended up being another, typical, stupid character in another typical, stupid murder mystery. And I’m extra let down because I felt like this had so much potential.
And this story wraps up with so many loose ends! What happened to the loan sharks? What happened with the will? What happened with the rest of the family? What were her future plans? Why would a certain somebody help her when they had no real motive? I don’t know friends, but this was just a big letdown for me.
Overall, this was just an okay read for me. I didn’t dislike it, but I disliked more things about it than I liked. But again, I am totally in the minority with my feelings based on the Goodreads reviews I’ve been seeing. Another thing I’ll say is that this reminds me of an Agatha Christie novel, another author I’ve never really enjoyed. So, if you do – then I’d probably really recommend this one to you, too!
Content and trigger warnings for harassment, anxiety, loss of a loved one, parental abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, captivity, and murder.