Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

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 center of it.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. Narrated by Imogen Church. Hardback edition, 368 pages, published by Scout Press, May 2018. Audiobook runs 14 hours 14 mins, published by Simon Schuster Audio. This was my local book clubs August 2019 book pick.

I had heard of Ruth Ware before. She is very hot right now it would seem. Her books have caught my eye multiple times in the past, but I’ve always been very iffy on if I wanted to read any of them. They sound good, but not quite what I’m looking for. A family member gave me their copy of The Death of Mrs. Westaway shortly after it came out, raving about how good it was. >.> It’s sat on my shelves ever since. It sounded good but I was kinda meh about it. I don’t know… It’s kinda hard to explain… like… have you ever seen a book and were like “Oh, that sounds pretty good. Don’t want to read it! ” ?? Well, that’s what it is like. Naturally, it ends up getting picked for book club, so now I have to read it! LOL! Figures…

I gotta say, I loved the modern gothic vibe this book has. Very nice, classic gothic atmosphere throughout the story. The mystery about the inheritance is interesting and does a good job keeping you hooked.

There are a few big twists here and there, but they kinda felt a little too obvious, especially after one of the characters gives Hal a group shot picture with her mom in it. That was like, maybe halfwayish through the book? After that part, the whole story is just so predictable. It kind of ruined the book a little for me because I found it hard to believe that it took the main character so long to figure all of this stuff out. :/ Yes, I get it…. Hal is young… but still… she seemed so cautious and suspicious all the time once she got to the family house, but she couldn’t put this puzzle together? *Shrug* I don’t know… that just wasn’t working for me.

Another thing that wasn’t working for me, was the slow as hell pace. I get a slow burn, I do. I don’t mind it if the story is tight with suspense. But The Death of Mrs. Westaway was reeeeaaalllly pushing my tolerance level for slow moving books. I think if a couple of spots where edited out, the flow of the story would would have been much better.

Like, there was this whole back story at the start of the book about how Hal needed money STAT because of a loan shark mob like guy she owed money to. Ok, fine. I get it. You want to set up a sympathetic reason so Hal doesn’t look like a complete jerk for conning a bunch of rich peeps out of their money. Fine. But there was way too much of this set up. It was like the author was bending over backward to make sure EVERYONE knows Hal is only doing this because she is scared and desperate. Page after page of Hal going on and on about being poor and struggling with money and how this loan shark was going to break her knee caps or whatever. Blah blah blah… We GOT. IT! Ok, geez… seriously. Laying it on a little thick, Ruth!!

It felt like it took FOR-EV-ER to even get to the whole going to dead grandma’s house and the inheritance part of the story!! OMG. We could have just started with Hal arriving at the house and just THINKING about how she needed the money because of the loan shark. That would have been just fine. But no. The author goes through, like, 80 flipping pages of going on and on. All of this could have easily been covered in just a few pages instead.

I really struggled with getting through the first 100 pages. I hate to DNF (Did Not Finish) a book club book, so I kept fighting to get through this book. To help, I decided to try flipping over to the audiobook instead. Maybe listening to it would help me just push through it. I had never switched between book formats mid-story like that before.

Switching to the audiobook worked like a charm! I’m not exactly sure why this book was being such a pain to read…? But whatever… audiobook put me back on track. The narrator had a very soothing voice. Imogen Church seemed to capture Hal’s nervousness very well. Sometimes it did get a little bit confusing when a group of male characters were talking. Over all, it was a nice performance. Not great, but not terrible.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway was predictable and slow, but… I guess entertaining as well…? Once you waded through the issues. The premise is fun at least. Just so slow, and so many parts that left me rolling my eyes instead of being sucked all the way in to the story. I’m glad that a lot of people really enjoy this author’s work. I… don’t think I will be reading anything else from her though. >.>

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