The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 May 2018

Member Reviews

***Thank you to Netgalley, The publister and author for this arc*****. “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“

Hal is struggling to pay her bills when she gets a letter that she was left the inherternce of Mrs. Westaway.  A Slow building suspense, you can feel the tensions building between Hal, her new “family” and Mrs. Warren. Family secrets never stay hidden......
This book is atmospheric, creepy old home, tarot cards, magpies. It was as if you were there while reading!
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The Death of Mrs. Westaway is by far my favorite book she has written. I loved the rest, but this one got me.  I knew one mystery right away, but that twist at the end, wow!! I met Ruth Ware a week ago at a book signing and she read my tarot card. She did not disappoint in person or in her writing.
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I was constantly trying to figure out whodunit! Ruth Ware does an amazing job of creating a creepy setting and developing characters.
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A twisty tale full of tarot and secrets from Ruth Ware (who is an absolute auto-buy author for me). This book follows Hal as she recieves a letter addressed to someone else naming her in a will. With a loan coming due and collectors threatening, she has no choice but to follow through on the scam and try to claim the inheritance.

I'll be honest-- I thought I had this one figured out halfway through, but just like THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10, Ware shocked me right up until the end. Another great book!
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After reading The Woman in Cabin 10 I was a little hesitant to read another Ruth Ware novel. The title, creepy cover and description of The Death of Mrs. Westaway lured me in. The book followed 21 year old Hal as she tried to keep her life together after the death of her mother. She receives a letter stating she is entitled to an inheritance and she decides to go for it- even if it isn't her family so she can get some money to help her pay her bills. She quickly becomes intertwined with this family- but is it hers? The book is full of family secrets, lies, fortune telling that help set the overall tone of the book. It was a little confusing trying to keep everyone straight at times and some parts seemed to drag on a little too much but overall it was a nice read albeit creepy at times. Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery/Scout Press for the ARC copy.
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Ruth Ware does not disappoint in her latest suspense novel. Her poetic writing and subtle scares draw readers into the story of Harriet (Hal) Westaway as she sets out to defraud the family of her supposed dead grandmother. When Hal receives a letter from a lawyer stating that her grandmother, Hester, has left her a bequest, she realizes the mistake; Hal doesn’t have a grandmother named Hester. But desperate for money, she decides to go to the funeral. Little did she know, she was inserting herself into a family buried under years of secrets and lies. Readers will think the beginning of this novel slow and a bit confusing, but the payoff pushing through is great. The twists and turns of this story, in true Ruth Ware fashion, will have readers fervently flipping pages to the end.
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*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review* 

While I have loved Ruth Ware’s first two books, the next two (‘The Lying Game’ and ‘Mrs. Westaway’) are good, but not what I expect.

This story was a family drama with some mystery and thrilling points. The story and the setting were original. While there are some twists, it wasn’t quite as many as I hoped for because it’s Ruth Ware writing! Still, if you like her, read it. You’ll get enjoyment out of it. I did, overall.
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Ms. Ware is gaining quite the reputation for family psychological thrillers.  This books lives up to the hype.  Hal receives notice that she is going to inherit some money and thinks it's not really for her. She attends the funeral of Mrs. Westaway and discovers that she is indeed part of this strange family. Hal has taken over her mother's tarot card reading booth to support herself since her mother disappeared several months ago.  Lots of twists and turns and the family secrets are enough to kill you.  Good read that you want to finish just one more chapter before put it down.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Tangled webs!

I really didn't see the final resolution of this suspenseful novel coming, although the tension throughout fully supports the unveiled dart exploding all previous suppositions.
Margarita Maggie (Hal) thinks she'll just go along with an inheritance that comes her way even though she knows this is a case of mistaken identity. Maybe she'll come away with enough money to pay the loan shark whose threatening her. Maybe she'll be able to move away with her tarot cards, gifted from her mother and continue elsewhere. Cards, that as we read, don't tell Hal's future but do help her to figure her way through the maze she's found herself in. Hal certainly didn't expect the 'inheritance' to be what it was. Complications, surprises--ugly and tragic, dog the pages.
Well worth the read!

A NetGalley ARC
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I’m a huge fan of Ruth Ware, she is actually one of my auto buy authors. As usual this book is compromised of concise, easy to read chapters. I found myself jumping right back into Ruth’s descriptive writing style. I love that the whole book had diary entires scattered throughout from the past. The fact that you don’t know who exactly wrote these entries makes it that much more interesting. Sadly this one was just too slowly paced and drawn out for me. It makes me upset that I was just let down totally by this read.

The fact that there was an unreliable main character definitely was a great choice. She had a pretty mysterious back story, where you learn bits and pieces about it throughout the whole book. The inner dialogue was a great touch, and the fact that Hal was a tarot card reader. I’m very into the whole psychic aspect of the story. There was a lot of family interaction, between Hal and this new family. 

Unfortunately, even though this was a solid murder mystery type book, it just wasn’t action packed enough to me. It was just too slow paced and dragged in a lot of places. The first half of the book was pretty much all back story, that I wasn’t interested in. I will say there was a great twist thrown in. If you like a character driven, quick and easy murder mystery read this one is definitely for you.
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Hal (short for Harriet) is scraping by, not even making ends meet, living in the tiny attic apartment she has lived in her whole life, reading people’s fortunes at the seaside where her mother used to do the readings herself. But her mother is dead now, and bills are far overdue. Then she receives a strange letter from an attorney saying that her grandmother has died and she is invited to attend the funeral and be present for the “reading of the will,” essentially.

The letter is clearly meant for someone else because her mother’s parents died years before. And her mother had told her she didn’t even know her father’s name. But as she does a little research, it’s clear that this late Mrs. Westaway, of Trepassen House, was quite wealthy. Perhaps she can benefit just a little from this large estate. Perhaps she can step into the shoes of this Harriet Westaway. She does, after all, have experience cold-reading people, so she might be able to pull off the con. It’s going to be tricky, but getting just a few thousand pounds, maybe, wouldn’t hurt anyone when there’s so much money, and it would certainly help her.

So Hal goes off to the tiny town of St. Piran. But things are not what they seem at the large estate. Trepassen House clearly has seen better days, and the family members are surprised to learn Harriet exists at all. Despite their surprise they’re all welcoming, except for the old, longtime housekeeper, who is cold and mean and puts her in a tiny attic room to stay and almost seems to be threatening her at times.

Of course, strange things happen, and Hal finds herself in danger. She may very well have been much better off (safe, at least) not reading the letter from the attorney. …

The Death of Mrs. Westaway had me hooked early on. It was hard to put down. The situation twists and turns and has Hal (and the reader) wondering what’s happening as surprising information pops up. I actually went back and re-read/skimmed over the book just to see events and clues (and some red herrings) with the perspective of knowing the end, and to enjoy it again.

I am surprised I hadn’t heard of Ruth Ware before this book, given my love of these kinds of gothic stories. I will now definitely check out her other books.
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Hal receives a letter from a solictor advising her that she has inherited an estate from her deceased grandmother, Mrs. Westaway. The problem is -- Hal has no living relatives. That she knows of. She decides, however, to go and meet the "family" and try to get some money.

I don't like writing reviews of books that I didn't enjoy. This one had no menace, no thrills, no suspense and no mystery -- I had figured out what was going on a few chapters in. It seems to have been written for a high schooler and, though I muddled through, I felt that the melodrama and the contrived attempt to create a gothic atmosphere only irritated me. I didn't like the main character, Hal, and the others were so paper thin as to be caricatures. Can someone say the obvious -- DNA test??? Glad I'm done. I won't be recommending. 

I do thank NetGalley and the publisher for this e-book ARC to read and review.
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I found this book very entertaining. I starts off slow but keeps you in suspense. The main character Mel receives a letter in the mail about a huge inheritance from a dead grandmother.. Even though she knows it was addressed to the wrong person she decides to see about this inheritance. Having a job as a tarot and fortune reader doesn't pay very well. and owning money to some mobster type men makes people  do crazy things I guess.. This book kept me guessing and I like when a book does that. Having been a bit disappointed in Ruth Ware's  previous book  The Lying Game., I was glad to see her back in the game with this book.
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I'm providing this review based on an ARC provided by NetGalley.

I adore Ruth Ware. Her novels have been something of a slow burn for me over the years, but I think with this latest offering, I've reached peak Ware fandom. Truly, the author gets better with each offering. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a classic British mystery, with a contemporary setting and tone. I can appreciate the classics of this genre but am even happier to find an author creating a modern take on the classic British mystery. Ware's characters have depth and it's a great puzzle to watch their layers peel away throughout the story. This is the type of book that would lead me to grab a cup of coffee and settle in on a cozy rainy day. Of course, all of this is not to say that the story is the least bit dull. The world-building and characters keep the pages turning briskly until you reach the lead-up to a very tense final act. I hope Ms. Ware continues on this trajectory.
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Creepy cover and the creepiness continued throughout this book. Then, strange things started happening to Hal.

On a mission to deceive due to her circumstances, Hal discovers a heinous relative that will kill anyone who knows the truth.

I must admit, while I enjoyed this book, I didn't get the physical suspense factor. I rarely had a racing pulse or triple digit heartbeats that I enjoy in most suspense books. Actually, it took a while before I even had some semblance of anything like it. 

In my opinion, had this book been shortened and things left out, I think it would have been a much better read. I know that is a horrible thing to say about the new "queen of suspense" but you got to have that suspense throughout the book to really be the queen, IMO.

Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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I don't know what it is about Ruth Ware but she can do no wrong when writing her novels! From the first page and to the last I can picture what is going on in this story, you can't help but be pulled into her world of mystery and suspense. In the beginning I could not figure out what was going to happen (which is what I like, to keep on guessing) and her main character, Hal, was so intriguing she pulled the whole story together. Another part of this book that I absolutely adore are the flashbacks. Who doesn't love to get a little peep at what is to come in the story? All in all this is a must read just like every other one of her books! You won't be able to put it down, trust me.
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I read Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood a couple of years ago and was underwhelmed. At the time, however, I wrote “I think she’s an author worth giving another chance, even if this book had problems.” I’d been hearing a lot of positive things and The Death of Mrs. Westaway seemed like one of the to-read books of this summer. I just don’t think I’m ever going to be a Ruth Ware fan.

Hal is a bit desperate. She owns money to a loan shark and is barely (not quite) making end meet as a tarot card reader. Out of the blue comes a letter about an inheritance. Hal knows it must be a mistake, but she’s out of options, so she takes the gamble and heads out to Trepassen House.

I liked Hal for the most part. She’s a survivor. And the atmosphere at Trepassen House was appropriately spooky and gothic. I guess, maybe Ware can be a bit heavy-handed and she’s going for the surprise twist, but it’s never quite as big a surprise as I’m expecting it to be. There’s too much repetition and telling us don’t forget it’s gloomy here and feels like secrets. Despite being billed as this generations Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware does not write simple mysteries. I categorized The Death of Mrs. Westaway as psychological suspense, and it’s fine. There are tons of secrets and a general feeling of menace, but it’s not outstanding, which is what I’m expecting based on the pre-reviews and advertising.
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Harriet Westaway (aka Hal)21 year old is a down on her luck tarot card reader living in London. After her mom died several years ago, things haven’t gone quite right for her.  She lives in a tiny top flat and runs a booth on the pier where she reads palms and tarot cards. But she barely makes enough money to support herself. Worse yet, she has final bill notices coming in the mail and loan sharks paying her visits. Hal is the feeling pressure from all sides. All she needs is one break. She thinks she may have found it when a mysterious letter arrives from a solicitor stating that she could be heir to a fortune. Hal thinks there is a mix-up and they have the wrong person, but if anyone deserves this, it’s her. Right? Besides, what harm could it do?

Hal eventually makes her way to the imposing Trepassen house where she meets the family she pretends to be related to. Things seem to be going according to plan until Hal finds out that she is inheriting more than she bargained for. Now duping her new “family” just became a little bit harder and Hal’s conscience may get the best of her. 

I enjoyed reading The Death of Mrs. Westaway. It was a fairly easy read. I loved the setting of this book. It was very atmospheric and intriguing. The story is told from Hal’s point of view for the most part. There are flashbacks sprinkled throughout the book, told from the POV of someone else. The flashbacks gave me a slight “Flowers in the Attic” vibe.  I remember reading In a Dark, Dark Wood almost three years ago by the same author. That one I liked, but I would have to say for now, this one is my favorite between the two. Ruth Ware is great with words and knows a thing or two about how to set a proper tone for her books. I look forward to reading whatever she writes next. 

                                                                                                 RATING: 3½ out of 5.
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Thriller–drama 'The Death of Mrs. Westaway' is Ruth Ware's best yet
Ruth Ware has really hit her stride in “The Death of Mrs. Westaway.” I loved “The Woman in Cabin 10” and thoroughly enjoyed “The Lying Game,” but neither has the nuance of her newest book. It is much more complex—not just a thriller, not just a mystery, but also the playing out of a fascinating family drama.

Harriet “Hal” Westaway is a struggling young woman, whose life took a terrible turn when her mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver. She not only lost her mother, but her plans for college were ruined and she found herself taking over her mother’s kiosk on the Brighton pier reading tarot cards. She is in debt to a loan shark who is threatening her and sees little in her life that might bring her joy.

Then a letter from an attorney arrives in the mail, informing her she has received an inheritance from a grandmother she never knew existed. Perhaps this might provide her with enough money to get out of debt and straighten out her life a bit, so, in spite of the fact she believes it is all a mistake, Hal decides to head to the funeral and meet the family.

Ware’s masterful skills in character development really shine here—each character plays a vital role and is carefully drawn with her perfect prose. Hal finds herself thrown into a household of estranged siblings and a very ominous housekeeper, Mrs. Warren. Trepassen, the long-neglected family home seemingly guarded by a huge flock of magpies, could not be an eerier setting for this story. It’s the perfect Gothic mansion, falling down around its inhabitants. I could feel the frigid air coming through the cracks, hear the creaking of the stairs and sense the terror of the darkness, especially in the attic, where Hal had to sleep. The room with bolts on the outside of the door.

Hal arrives believing she is just playing a role, but soon wonders if she might really be a part of this dysfunctional family. What did her mother hide from her? Who was her mother? Who was her father? Why does Mrs. Warren dislike her so much?

It’s not just the tarot cards that foretell the future—the magpies have a voice as well:

“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.”

A feeling of tension and foreboding pervades the entire book. Ware’s ability to take the reader on a dark roller coaster ride of twists and turns shines. Set aside a good chunk of reading time for this one—you won’t want to put it down.

Sandy Mahaffey is former Books editor with The Free Lance–Star.

More Information

By Ruth Ware

(Scout Press, $26.99, 384 pp.)

Published: May 29
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Even though I’m typically a huge fan of suspenseful thrillers, for some reason I had not gotten around to trying one of Ruth Ware’s popular novels yet. I don’t really have any real excuse other than I sometimes tend to shy away from hyped books and this was one of those cases, especially since I’ve seen Ware referred to as the Agatha Christie of our time and that seems like a pretty tall order for any author to try to live up to.  The synopsis of The Death of Mrs. Westaway captivated me, however, and I decided it was past time for me to try my first Ruth Ware novel.  How did it work out?  I’d say the fact that I’ve ordered copies of all of Ware’s novels since finishing this one is a pretty good indicator of how it went.  While I might not go so far as to call her the Agatha Christie of our day, Ruth Ware is a superb mystery author in her own right.

Sympathetic Protagonist:  Harriet Westaway (or Hal as she is more often referred to) is a character that tugged on my heartstrings from the first pages of the novel.  She is a 21-year-old tarot card reader who works on a pier in Brighton, England.  Hal fell into this line of work a few years earlier when her mother, also a tarot card reader, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident.  The driver was never caught and so Hal was forced to drop out of school and take up her mother’s work in order to keep a roof over her head and food on the table.  There’s no father and no other family in the picture so Hal is all alone in the world and is struggling to make ends meet.  When we meet Hal, she is up to her neck in trouble, having borrowed some money from a sleazy loan shark who keeps changing the terms of her repayment and has sent his goons to deliver a message to her, that message being threat of bodily harm or even worse if she doesn’t cough up 3,000 pounds, which she clearly doesn’t have.

Although Hal is a sympathetic character, she’s still pretty savvy and street smart, which is another thing I liked about her, as well as the fact that she also has a bit of a morally gray element that adds even more interesting layers to her personality.  When a letter from an attorney’s office arrives in the mail telling Hal she has been named as a beneficiary in the will of a Mrs. Westaway who has just passed away, Hal knows it can’t possibly be her, as she has no family.  That said, however, she can’t help but wonder if her ability to read people – so finely honed by years of reading tarot cards and telling fortunes – is sharp enough for her to fool people so that she really can claim the aforementioned inheritance.  Yes, there’s a risk she could go to jail for fraud, but if she can pull it off, it’s the answer to all of her prayers.  That in itself makes it a risk worth taking.  It’s so wrong of course, but I just couldn’t help but admire her guts and determination.

Atmospheric Quality: In addition to the wonderfully well-rounded character that is Hal, my other favorite part of the book is the atmosphere that Ware has created. Everything about the atmosphere has an air of suspense to it but it takes a turn for the creepy and Gothic once Hal arrives at the residence of the late Mrs. Westaway.  The house itself is dusty and ill-maintained, some of the windows are barred, It’s filled with endless dark corridors and stairways, and to top it off, there’s a mean old housekeeper, Mrs. Warren, that Hal seems to find lurking around every corner.  Everything about the house just had this ominous feel to it and had me wanting to yell at Hal to get out while she could.

Family Secrets – Web of Lies:  If you’re into books that focus on messy families and their dirty little secrets, The Death of Mrs. Westaway is the book for you! As soon as Hal arrives and hears the will reading, she can tell that something is amiss with the Westaway family and that she has landed herself right in the middle of a hornet’s nest.  Nothing is as it seems and although she knows she should just cut and run before she ends up in potentially deeper trouble than she already is, she feels compelled to find out the truth about the family and whatever it is they appear to be hiding.  Ware does a marvelous job with the pacing of the novel and I remained enthralled as I waited for each strand of the web of lies to unravel.

I don’t really have anything at all here. It was a phenomenal read that I couldn’t put down once I started reading.

 While this was my first time reading Ruth Ware, it will definitely not be my last.  I’d recommend The Death of Mrs. Westaway to anyone who is a fan of mysteries and thrillers as well as to anyone who enjoys a good domestic drama.
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