LJ Reviews 2019 November
Ware (The Death of Mrs. Westaway) parlays themes from Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, into gripping suspense for the digital age. Ware's narrative also originates from after-the-fact correspondence and documents uncanny revelations from precocious children, an isolated mansion betokening abandonment amid luxury, and inklings of former dark goings-on. However, Ware imagines a more aspirational, imperfect nanny and cleverly exploits the mansion, Heatherbrae House, as an uneasy presence whose history, inexplicable noises, and intrusive security cameras engender fear and distrust. Visual disharmony inflicted by the home's recent, aggressive renovation even parallels identity issues of newly hired nanny Rowan, who has barely unpacked when her posh employers depart for a conference, leaving four daughters in her care and vital secrets (e.g., that previous nanny and the poisoning incident) unshared. Narrator Imogen Church, splendidly conveying Rowan's youth, heightening dread, and utter credibility, also delights as the disturbingly blithe voice of "Happy," software programmed to run Heatherbrae but which instead terrorizes the household with harrowing miscues like blasts of music in the wee hours—a "smart house" apparently gone rogue. VERDICT The only 21st-century question scarier than "Who can you trust?" is "Who else has the passcode?" Wholeheartedly recommended.—Linda Sappenfield, Round Rock P.L., TX
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