Book Review: The Turning

The Turning
By: Francine Pascal
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Page Count: 256
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Triller

"The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James is one of my favorite short stories and such a perfect chilling read for the Halloween season. Last year around this time, I read Tighter by Adele Griffin (Read my review of that book!) because it was inspired by the classic James piece. I was ecstatic to find out about the release of this little gem this year. As soon as I received the book from the publisher, I moved things in my reading schedule so I could read this sooner rather than later.

One thing that sets this book apart from Tighter is the format of the storytelling. In The Turning, the story unfolds through a series of letters largely written by Jack, the novel's protagonist. Jack has landed the summer job of a lifetime - he will paid a large sum to spend the summer on an island babysitting two kids. It's a pretty sweet deal. Who wouldn't want the chance to live in a large house and have an entire island to themselves? Jack starts to question his decision the moment the ferry leaves the mainland in route to his summer home.

This novel certainly delivers the creep factor and I have to be honest and admit that I had trouble reading it at night without my imagination running away from me. There isn't a clear line between what's real and what's going on in Jack's head. Even the ending doesn't bring a sense of true resolution to that ambiguity. While many readers will enjoy puzzling things out, I really wanted a firm answer. Is Jack really seeing and hearing all of these things OR is he merely suffering from some sort of mental break from reality? I am considering rereading this one so I can start to pinpoint the exact moment where Jack begins to lose his credibility as a narrator.

My biggest complaint with this novel is that due to Jack's state of mind, it is often difficult to follow the story-line  I found myself constantly having to reread to be sure I was grasping what was happening in the present. As Jack becomes more paranoid and obsessed with unraveling the secrets of the Crackstone family, he becomes more difficult to follow in a logical pattern. This all makes sense based on what is happening to Jack, but it did make this novel more work than pleasure.

All in all, I would recommend this to anyone whose in the mood for a few chills to run up and down your spine. It's a hauntingly good read that will get you in the proper mindset for Halloween.

One Last Gripe: I was detached from the characters throughout the novel; this made it difficult for me to really have a stake in the way things worked out in the end

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I enjoyed the family's history

First Sentence: I'm afraid this is going to sound crazy.

Favorite Character: Linda

Least Favorite Character: Norris

Jack is babysitting for the summer on an isolated island with no Wi-Fi, no cell service, and no one else around but a housekeeper and two very peculiar children. He immediately senses something sinister-and it's not just the creepy black house he's living in. Soon he is feeling terribly isolated and alone, but then he discovers there are others. The problem is, he's the only who can see them. As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn't crazy…Or is he?

Where does reality end and insanity begin? The Turn of the Screw reinvented for modern-day teens, by National Book Award finalist Francine Prose.


  1. Great review Andrea! I love a book that is hard to read at night and blurs reality! Sounds awesome!!

    1. This was good for the creep factor. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you give it a try.

  2. I have not read the Turn of The Screw, but I LOVE reading stuff that will haunt me, some for days, some forever.
    And this book really does look good. Besides, I love it when you don't actually get what happened at the end. It is confusing and lovely. I think I will like this book a LOT.
    GREAT review, Andrea
    Your constant reader,

    1. Haunting is a great term for this one; it certainly delivers on that front.


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