05 August, 2013

The Turning - Review

Publication date: 25 Sept 2012 by Harper Teen
ISBN 10/13: 0061999660 | 9780061999666

Category: Young Adult Fiction/Ghost Story
Source: ARC provided by Publisher, Harper Teen
Format: Hardcover, ebook

Kimberly's review:

The Turning is a re-telling of the story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I wasn't familiar with that story before reading The Turning but now I am curious to read the original. Jack, a local teen, gets a job of being a full time babysitter for the summer to two young children--Miles and Flora. Whisked away to a remote island, the children are left alone with him and their cook. Gardeners visit once a week. Items and supplies are ordered and dropped off too. The place is isolated and quiet. The kids do not have television, Internet or movies. They read, they explore, they are mostly alone.

Jack feels like there is something not quite right about the place. And his suspicions are confirmed when strange things start happening around the island. Things he cannot explain. And then...

I wanted to like this book more. Besides the cover being brilliant, the synopsis of the book was very intriguing. It promises ghosts, haunted houses, scary children and a remote island. And I think it could have been a fantastic book. But for me, it just didn't quite make it.

There are some really great things about this book. I liked the overall tone of the story. It reminds me of older stories, such as Gothic tales like Jane Eyre. Creepy, distant feelings of something being off, not quite right. The book is told in letter format, which also reminds me of older styles. There is no Internet so Jack is reduced to writing long letters on his computer and then printing them out and sending them snail mail. I really liked this idea--the thought of being so isolated that this small bubble has to go back to an older time period. I also enjoyed watching Jack's character deteriorate through the story. The circumstances surrounding Jack change him in subtle and then not so subtle ways. His letters grow frantic, angry and hostile. He becomes just as threatening and scary as the ghosts.

There are a few things that irked me. As I said, I enjoyed the idea of the letters back home. But the execution left me feeling empty. Jack's voice doesn't sound like a teenage boy. He gives descriptions and commentary that are unnecessary and seem to be added in just to inform the reader of back story. Maybe it would have worked more like a diary that Jack kept?

And I also want to note that this is a story based upon the idea that this teenage boy, teenage boy, is babysitting for these two children on a remote island for an entire summer. Their guardian wants nothing to do with them. He doesn't want to be informed of their happenings at all, unless dire circumstances. And while Jack may be getting some pretty good dough for this experience, it seems unlikely that a parent would allow their child to go off and do this kind of job for the summer--with little ways of communicating in case of emergency and sole responsibility for two young children. I mean, my mom wouldn't let me babysit overnight for kids, let alone stay on an island in the middle of no where with no way to get to a hospital or call for help. (A note: in the original story, I believe the protagonist is a governess, which makes a lot more sense during the time period.)

I also think the story could have moved faster, with more creepiness. I liked the overall tone, but for long periods, the story stalls, leaving me wondering if I had missed something. And by the end, it's all a bit dramatic and unbelieveable, with not a lot of support. I finished the book and thought--that's it?

Overall, it's quick read with enough of a tingle to keep me interested. But I was disappointed it didn't live up to my expectations.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

You can find more about the author at blueflowerarts.com. Find more reviews from Kimberly at thewindypages.com.


  1. sad that you didn't love this one. i really want to read it. you're right, the cover is totally brilliant. it does annoy me though when authors but in description into a story in an awkward way. i know we need it but sometimes the execution is so clunky. it'll probably be a library read for me.

  2. Thanks Fishgirl! Yeah, I wanted to like it so badly and there are some good things about it. But overall, not the book for me. But oh, that cover... :)

  3. I haven't read The Turn of the Screw either but your review of The Turning makes me curious about the original as well. Although creepy children sometimes give me nightmares! I can read vamps, zombies, etc but creepy kids are the worst. That cover is quite awesome though. Too bad the book didn't live up to your expectations!