The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 May 2018

Member Reviews

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a look into the gnarled and twisted branches of an English country seat’s family tree. Ruth Ware’s latest is an excellent thriller about Hal, a down-on-her-luck young woman, who is given a glimmer of hope when she receives a note announcing a possible inheritance. After her mother’s untimely death two years ago, Hal was forced to take over her tarot reading booth on Brighton’s West Pier. In the slow winter months, she gets behind on her bills and goes to a loan shark to try to get even, but only finds herself further in debt and physically in danger. Hal’s only choice is to escape one danger in Brighton to others at Trepassen House.
While the first half of the novel may be described as a slow burn, the second half is full of twists on every page and is well worth the wait. Ware expertly threads the knowledge of tarot reading throughout the narrative in a way that deftly furthers both the plot and the characters’ developments. It is very enjoyable to follow the character of Hal as she tries to use her dexterity with the tarot cards to read the people around her.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book for its unique twist on the inheritance mystery. 
Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books, and Ruth Ware for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this book.
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As Ruth Ware's 4th book, I found  this to be the best out of all her accomplishments so far. Every book hes been written cleverly and each story is created with  completely different nuances,  story line,  characters and mystery. However, the suspenseful,  nail-biting dilemma the main character,  Hal,  faces while visiting possible family and the question of a substantial inheritance, while digging into the mystery of who her mother was and left behind, is too enticing to ignore...I sped through the book while ignoring my own life. Thrilling and spine-tinglingly marvelous! !
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To be honest, I wasn't really all that impressed with Ruth Ware's last book, The Lying Game, so I was a little hesitant about her newest one, The Death of Mrs. Westaway. But after reading it I can say: Wow! This has to be one of her best books yet! There is just enough in each chapter to reel you in and make you keep reading (despite personally having figured out a  majority of the plot somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the way into the book), building up to an exciting ending.
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So many things to love about this book! The main character, Hal, is empathetic, and her struggles to make her life work after the death of her mother are painful and true. I loved the concept of the mistaken inheritance and the creepy rundown estate in the country. I'm a big fan of gothic stories and I love how the author both used them and turned them on their head. For example, the forbidding housekeeper is very much in keeping with the genre, but the family is welcoming and kind, though Hal is suspicious of them--and right to be. And the fact that it wasn't the typical scenario of greedy family members vying for their portion of a deceased relative's estate was truly refreshing.

All that being said, when the villain was revealed, I didn't feel like the motivation for said person's actions were clear. I understood what had happened, but I didn't understand why it had played out that way. And part of that, I suspect, is simply that with so many characters on hand and the need to misdirect, it was difficult to make that situation clear without revealing too much in advance.  

Still, a very enjoyable read. And I'll definitely be recommending it to fans of the author and definitely fans of the gothic read.
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First and foremost, #blessed to have been given permission to read this advance copy by NetGalley. Such great friends.

Okay. We finally have Ruth Ware's new book, The Death of Mrs. Westaway and WOW GUYS! I loved it so freaking much! After The Lying Game which I considered to be a huge flop, Ruth Ware reseals her place in my heart with this one.

Here we have the character of Hal Westaway, who is your classic Millennial -- dirt broke, neck-deep in debt, wondering how her job as a psychic on a Brighton pier can continue sustaining her. Then comes the letter she receives from a lawyer bequeathing her with an inheritance from her newly passed grandmother -- a person Hal has never met nor even knew existed (her late mother was p shady). Hal is sure there has been a mistake but jumps at the the chance to acquire the inheritance and pay off her debts. However, her presence at the funeral throws her head-first into the decades-long drama of the Westaway family -- a group of estranged siblings who each, to be frank, absolutely despised their mother, the late Mrs. Westaway. Though Hal plays along and charades as Mrs. Westaway's long lost granddaughter, her visit opens up more questions than answers regarding her own past and that of her late mother. What role did her mother play in this family? What does that mean for Hal? Is there more to this visit than simply snatching a few thousand dollars and returning home?

What Ruth Ware succeeds in the most with this book is establishing a strong sense of foreboding and tension. It is supes potent, y'all. From the vivid descriptions of Trepassen house, which is falling into disrepair after near decades of neglect; to the history and relationships of each of the Westaway siblings; to Mrs. Warren, the housekeeper, who is constantly lurking in the winding hallways of Trepassen house and ready to pounce on Hal with some ferociously scalding tea (all forms of tea, honey. She's a gay icon now.); to Mrs. Westaway herself whose formidable presence, despite us never actually meeting her, remains stronger than that of most of the living characters. Clearly, I am very here for this book.

As Hal continues to seek answers within the walls of Trepassen, Ware presents to us in great detail every thing that Hal uses as clues. And Hal, though a strong yet conflicted character, is not the brightest. Which means that, yes, you may answer all her questions well before the end of the book. That does not make the ending any less satisfying though! This is a mystery very much worthy of Agatha Christie, who Ware has consistently been compared.

The only qualms I had which knocked my rating down from five to four stars was the fact that the first three-quarters of the book deal heavily on the logistics of Mrs. Westaway's will. Not that it was uninteresting, but it did slow down the plot to the point where I felt that we are not given the meat and thrills of the story until the last 100 pages or so. 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway will but a huge hit this summer! With this book, Ruth Ware has truly established herself as the Agatha Christie of our time. Buy it. Take it with you on vacation. Enjoy it as a beach read or a little something extra to make your summer more fun. With this book, Ruth Ware has truly established herself as the Agatha Christie of our time. Agatha would be proud.
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If you're anxiously awaiting a new Ruth Ware book that you'll have to read in one sitting because you're so engrossed and know you can't sleep until you finish it? Well, you're in luck because that's what exactly what her new one, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, will make you do! When the book begins, we find twenty-one year-old Hal; she grew up not knowing her father and her mother died in an accident several years prior. Now she's alone. Alone in her tarot booth on the pier (where her mother used to work), alone in the flat where they lived, and has no friends or family to help her repay a shady loanshark. Everything changes when she gets a letter saying her presence is requested at Mrs. Westaway's estate for her funeral and the reading of her will. Since her mother never mentioned they had other living relatives, the idea of a family and a little bit of money is appealing enough to make her go to this funeral and figure out this mystery. Why did the name on the letter have her name and address, but assume that she was someone named Maud's daughter? As she gets to know each of the family members in a house that is almost a character itself, secrets begin to get uncovered, links begin to connect, and everyone in this house knows that their lives will be forever changed by the last will and testament of Mrs. Westaway.
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