The Boy at the Keyhole
An electrifying debut in the vein of Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, about a British boy who, after his mother is abruptly called away to America, begins to suspect that perhaps she did not leave, but was murdered—by the housekeeper who cares for him in the family's isolated country estate.Nine-year-old Samuel lives alone in a once great estate in Surrey with the family’s housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother has been abroad for five months, purportedly tending to her late husband’s faltering business. She left in a hurry one night while Samuel was sleeping and did not say goodbye.Beyond her sporadic postcards, Samuel hears nothing from his mother. He misses her dearly and maps her journey in an atlas he finds in her study. Samuel’s life is otherwise regulated by Ruth, who runs the house with an iron fist. Only she and Samuel know how brutally she enforces order.As rumors in town begin to swirl, Samuel wonders whether something more sinister is afoot. Perhaps his mother did not leave, but was murdered—by Ruth.Channeling the masterful suspense of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca and the haunting, claustrophobic atmosphere of the works of Shirley Jackson, The Boy at the Keyhole is an electrifying debut about the precarious dance between truth and perception, and the shocking acts that occur amid tightly knit quarters.

The Boy at the Keyhole Details

TitleThe Boy at the Keyhole
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 4th, 2018
PublisherHanover Square Press
ISBN-139781335652928
Rating
GenreMystery, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Gothic, Adult Fiction, Mystery Thriller, Psychological Thriller

The Boy at the Keyhole Review

  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    A perfectly serviceable suspense novel that takes place within the confines of a manor house. A housekeeper is charged with the care of a nine year old boy during the absence of his mother. Needless to say things between them become rather tense and play out psychologically and otherwise until both reach their breaking point. The comparisons to Du Maurier and Shirley Jackson seem about right but I would add a whisper of Thomas Tryon.
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    Push pins on an atlas are the only way nine year old Samuel Clay can track his mother's trip to America. That, and eight postcards sent from various locales. Mrs. Clay was seeking a large investment to jump start the sagging business she runs since the death of her husband. Samuel aches for his mother but also resents her. Why has she been gone one hundred thirteen days? Why did she abruptly leave in the middle of the night without saying goodbye? After school, Samuel races home hoping to find h Push pins on an atlas are the only way nine year old Samuel Clay can track his mother's trip to America. That, and eight postcards sent from various locales. Mrs. Clay was seeking a large investment to jump start the sagging business she runs since the death of her husband. Samuel aches for his mother but also resents her. Why has she been gone one hundred thirteen days? Why did she abruptly leave in the middle of the night without saying goodbye? After school, Samuel races home hoping to find his mom back from her trip.The family estate in Cornwall is crumbling. Many household items and heirlooms have been sold to pay bills incurred by Mr. Clay. Samuel is being cared for by trusted housekeeper, Ruth Tupper. Always having been treated as family, she has a bedroom down the hall from Samuel. Ruth runs the household with an iron fist. She appears stiff and bothered, constantly critical of Samuel. If he could choose, he would opt for freedom like his pet rabbit, Robin Hood and do as he pleased.Samuel's best friend, Joseph floats a scenario about Mrs. Clay's departure. Samuel's thoughts run wild especially since Ruth informs him that he cannot write or phone his mother. Why has Ruth locked all of the upstairs rooms?"The Boy at the Keyhole: A Novel" by Stephen Giles is a slow-burning psychological thriller. The tension builds and builds. A taut, unputdownable read!Thank you Harlequin, Hanover Square Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Boy at the Keyhole".
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  • Kendall
    January 1, 1970
    Nine year old Samuel Clay lives with his housekeeper Ruth on an English estate. Samuel's father has died and his mother abruptly left in the middle of the night to America to help with their failing family business.It has been over 5 months since Samuel has spoken to his mother and he desperately is missing her. Samuel receives random postcards from his mother that he keeps in an atlas to map his mother's locations across America. Samuel is hoping and praying that his mother will return from Ame Nine year old Samuel Clay lives with his housekeeper Ruth on an English estate. Samuel's father has died and his mother abruptly left in the middle of the night to America to help with their failing family business.It has been over 5 months since Samuel has spoken to his mother and he desperately is missing her. Samuel receives random postcards from his mother that he keeps in an atlas to map his mother's locations across America. Samuel is hoping and praying that his mother will return from America to be with him again.As we all know as a child your imagination can run wild. Samuel's best friend Joseph starts to creep into Samuel's mind with probing questions of the circumstances to his mother's whereabouts. Why would she leave in the middle of the night? Soon, Samuel's imagination sends him searching locked doors, spying in the housekeeper's room, trying to get into the cellar, and anywhere he can get his hands on. Ruth starts to become more furious as each day passes with Samuel's behavior. The show down between Ruth and Samuel is a very SLOW burn. There wasn't much happening unfortunately throughout the entire novel... leading up to the reveal between Samuel and Ruth. This unfortunately was not cup of tea AT ALL. There was hardly any action and the final reveal to the plot was just SO disappointing. I can see how some readers may enjoy the dance between what is true and not true. And.. honestly that ending was AWFUL!!! I remember reading the last sentence/paragraph of the story and thinking what the heck was that?! And.. not to mention too many loose ends that didn't make sense to me? 1.75 stars rounded down on this one for me. Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin/Hanover Square Press for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest thoughts.Publication date: 9/4/18Published to GR: 7/15/18
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    While, The Boy at the Keyhole promises a psychological horror showdown, it falls flat on its delivery. It's the early 1960s, and nine year old Samuel lives in this beautiful spacious estate in England, where he is being taken care of by his housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's father had passed away, leaving the family in financial disarray. Samuel's mother has ventured to America in pursuit of work so the family can get stable again—before the family loses their house. In the mean time, Ruth is Samuel' While, The Boy at the Keyhole promises a psychological horror showdown, it falls flat on its delivery. It's the early 1960s, and nine year old Samuel lives in this beautiful spacious estate in England, where he is being taken care of by his housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's father had passed away, leaving the family in financial disarray. Samuel's mother has ventured to America in pursuit of work so the family can get stable again—before the family loses their house. In the mean time, Ruth is Samuel's primary caregiver, while also the house guardian. Samuel's mother has been gone for months now, only providing sporadic postcards to update the duo on her adventures in the United States. Samuel is desperate for his mother's return—Ruth runs the house with an iron fist, and he really doesn't want her authoritative behavior instilled on him any longer. After speaking with his best friend Joseph, he begins to believe that his mother is never coming home. Samuel even begins to believe that Ruth had something in his mother's disappearance. He begins covering his tracks, while trying to find out more clues about his mother, Ruth, and their relationship. As Samuel's investigation progresses, he and Ruth begin a game of cat-and-mouse. Ruth's frustration with Samuel deepens, as she tries to prevent Samuel from continuing his investigation. It's a battle of minds, and even though Samuel is young—he is not going to let this person destroy what he has left. The Boy at the Keyhole just didn't work for me, but I think it'll polarize readers in general. It's definitely one of those books that you'll either really enjoy, or possibly dislike. I do think you should pick this book up if you're interested in a horror/mystery, and can handle a slow burn. Samuel and Ruth's battle begins early on, but the story really doesn't move fast enough for me. Each chapter afterwards just felt repetitive and drawn out. The Boy at the Keyhole isn't even 300 pages, but could've been even shorter. While the writing was strong (writing from the perspective of a nine year old isn't easy), I just didn't connect to the story at all.Thank you Handover Press for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Boy at the Keyhole will be released September 4, 2018.
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  • Marjorie
    January 1, 1970
    Nine-year-old Samuel misses his mother. She’s left him alone with the housekeeper Ruth. Ruth as told Samuel that his mother had to go to America to try to save the family business. She didn’t even say goodbye and left in the middle of the night while he was sleeping. But she’s been gone months and he begins to suspect that something has happened to her. He begins to believe that Ruth has murdered his mother.The comparisons of this book to the work of Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier convinc Nine-year-old Samuel misses his mother. She’s left him alone with the housekeeper Ruth. Ruth as told Samuel that his mother had to go to America to try to save the family business. She didn’t even say goodbye and left in the middle of the night while he was sleeping. But she’s been gone months and he begins to suspect that something has happened to her. He begins to believe that Ruth has murdered his mother.The comparisons of this book to the work of Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier convinced me that it was a must read. I believe the book is closer to the work of Jackson than Du Maurier. The author has created a very tense, suspenseful atmosphere. At points in the book, you think you know where it’s headed but then the author turns it around, again and again, until you’re really not sure what to expect. My heart was touched by the anguished plight of young Samuel. It’s quite a sad story, either way the author decided to go. I had a hard time putting it down and found it to be a very satisfying read.Recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    Nine-year-old Samuel Clay lives with the family's housekeeper, Ruth, on a deteriorating English estate.  His father has died and his mother has traveled to America to secure capital for their failing business.It's been over five months since Samuel has spoken to his mother; he receives random postcards from her and marks her locations in an atlas in the study.  He misses her terribly and is upset she left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.Samuel's imagination runs wild and all it Nine-year-old Samuel Clay lives with the family's housekeeper, Ruth, on a deteriorating English estate.  His father has died and his mother has traveled to America to secure capital for their failing business.It's been over five months since Samuel has spoken to his mother; he receives random postcards from her and marks her locations in an atlas in the study.  He misses her terribly and is upset she left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.Samuel's imagination runs wild and all it takes is a few comments from his best friend to make him question if his mother really left the country at all.  Samuel begins to think Ruth had something to do with his mother's disappearance, why else would she be gone for so long?Ruth takes care of the home and Samuel with the little money available but she is cold detached and refuses to put up with any nonsense.  Normal daily routines soon fill with the unease of a domestic thriller as readers wonder if Ruth is hiding something.Samuel's investigation sends him searching the cellar and spying in to locked rooms while Ruth grows more furious by the day at all the questions and sneaking around.  The psychological show down between Samuel and Ruth is a slow burn, and I can definitely see the comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier as a simple story of a boy yearning for his mother and dealing with the loss of his father turns in to an unsettling tale of possible murder.I loved that a nine-year-old's imagination allows the reader to find the jump from "mother abroad for business" to "murdered by the housekeeper" completely plausible.  A child can turn anything into a mystery and put everyone under suspicion.  There were moments when I felt Ruth was a total villain and others where I saw an adult making hard choices for a family in the mother's absence.While I know some readers will feel this story falls flat because it lacks action, many will enjoy the psychological dance between truth and perception.  I'm not honestly sure what ending I expected or even wanted, but it is chilling!Thanks to Hanover Square Press and Edelweiss for a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  The Boy at the Keyhole is scheduled for release on September 4, 2018.For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Nine-year-old Samuel has been left in the care of the housekeeper, Ruth, for over 100 days while his mother went to America to try to raise money to save the family steel business. The story takes place mostly in the mind of Samuel - suspense that builds very slowly until both Samuel and Ruth are at each other's throats. The story doesn't come out and say what actually happened, but you get a pretty good idea. Not what I expected and really not the book for me, but it was interesting enough to f Nine-year-old Samuel has been left in the care of the housekeeper, Ruth, for over 100 days while his mother went to America to try to raise money to save the family steel business. The story takes place mostly in the mind of Samuel - suspense that builds very slowly until both Samuel and Ruth are at each other's throats. The story doesn't come out and say what actually happened, but you get a pretty good idea. Not what I expected and really not the book for me, but it was interesting enough to finish and I think the author certainly has talent - I just like a different type of story.Thanks to Stephen Giles and Harlequin/Hanover Square Press through Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    This sinister psychological thriller focuses around an age-old conundrum: if two people have conflicting versions of what is true, who is the unreliable narrator?Young Samuel lives with his housekeeper Ruth in the crumbling family estate in Cornwall. His father is dead and his mother is an America trying to resurrect her husband’s mordant business. But is she really? Or has the housekeeper had a hand in her disappearance?Ruth is responsible but harsh and her explanations seem to add up. And Samu This sinister psychological thriller focuses around an age-old conundrum: if two people have conflicting versions of what is true, who is the unreliable narrator?Young Samuel lives with his housekeeper Ruth in the crumbling family estate in Cornwall. His father is dead and his mother is an America trying to resurrect her husband’s mordant business. But is she really? Or has the housekeeper had a hand in her disappearance?Ruth is responsible but harsh and her explanations seem to add up. And Samuel is a sensitive child with a vivid imagination and a longing to be reunited with his mother. Is he intuiting the truth? Or is he a sort of “bad seed” who has it in for the housekeeper? And what’s with the pet rabbit, Robin Hood, anyway? With a hint of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this neo-Gothic tale keeps the reader guessing until the very end. It’s a quick summer read that may not linger long, but it sure held my attention while I was reading it.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    "This house won't hold your secrets--it will betray them...This house tells its tales with anyone with sense enough to listen."I enjoyed The Boy at the Keyhole more than I expected to. This is a slow-burning psychological gothic novel with tones of Shirley Jackson. Don't expect major twists and turns or anything crazy, but it's a good story about secrets and a crumbling house.At some points, it feels a little drawn out. I think this could have worked better as a short story, but I still really l "This house won't hold your secrets--it will betray them...This house tells its tales with anyone with sense enough to listen."I enjoyed The Boy at the Keyhole more than I expected to. This is a slow-burning psychological gothic novel with tones of Shirley Jackson. Don't expect major twists and turns or anything crazy, but it's a good story about secrets and a crumbling house.At some points, it feels a little drawn out. I think this could have worked better as a short story, but I still really liked it. Stephen Giles effortlessly handles a child POV in a way that isn't annoying, but just leads you to view the story in a different light than you normally would. If you enjoyed books like The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware & The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley earlier this year, you should definitely pick up The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles.
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  • Kelly Long
    January 1, 1970
    I read an ARC of this book.This was a slow burn that turned into a dud. That ending... What a letdown.
  • Diane Hernandez
    January 1, 1970
    Boy at the Keyhole is a suspenseful psychological thriller by a debut author.In 1961, nine-year-old Samuel is at home in England with his housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother is searching for business investors in America. Samuel is concerned because his mother has been gone four months. Her only contact are bi-monthly postcards from America. Ruth tries to cut expenses as much as possible but the home’s artwork is being sold to pay the bills. Where is Samuel’s mother and why isn’ Boy at the Keyhole is a suspenseful psychological thriller by a debut author.In 1961, nine-year-old Samuel is at home in England with his housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother is searching for business investors in America. Samuel is concerned because his mother has been gone four months. Her only contact are bi-monthly postcards from America. Ruth tries to cut expenses as much as possible but the home’s artwork is being sold to pay the bills. Where is Samuel’s mother and why isn’t she sending money home? Why does Samuel suspect foul play and especially that Ruth is the killer?Boy at the Keyhole slowly builds suspense and dread about what happened to Samuel’s mother. The atmosphere is really the star here. A paranoid nine-year-old is an unexpected choice as an unreliable narrator. Are the clues he sees as facts really just his childish imagination? The penultimate twist is a true surprise. However, I hated the inconclusive finale. 3 stars but I am looking forward to the next book by this debut author.Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin/Hanover Press for the advance copy of this tension filled novel of psychological suspense. I found myself riveted to each page from its beginning to the startling conclusion. I would have liked a short aftermath, but found it more compelling than other mysteries I have read lately. There is a small cast of characters in a deteriorating manor with little physical action but lots of mental stress and strain. Samuel is a nine year old boy living in an impoverished Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin/Hanover Press for the advance copy of this tension filled novel of psychological suspense. I found myself riveted to each page from its beginning to the startling conclusion. I would have liked a short aftermath, but found it more compelling than other mysteries I have read lately. There is a small cast of characters in a deteriorating manor with little physical action but lots of mental stress and strain. Samuel is a nine year old boy living in an impoverished mansion in England. He is under the care of Ruth who is assigned to look after Samuel and the home. His father has recently died. His adored mother has left for America to find financing to settle the late father’s debts on the estate and business. She has been gone for more than four months. The upset, lonely Samuel counts each day of her absence, marking her journey on his father’s atlas. Ruth is a strict, harsh and cold caregiver. Samuel begins to worry that his mother never left the country despite eight postcards he has received from various cities in the USA and Canada. He starts to believe that Ruth has murdered his beloved mother in order to take over the home. He even feels his life is in danger. Ruth keeps various rooms locked, items of value have slowly gone missing and he has observed Ruth trying on one of his mother’s most beautiful dresses. Ruth insists she has no information on how to contact his mother or when she will return home. Samuel is determined to find out why his mother would leave him for such a long period of time. He searches the cellar and outbuildings for her body. As he sneaks into forbidden rooms in search of clues, Ruth becomes increasingly stressed and angry at the boy’s speculations. Comparison with early 1950’s writers like D. du Maurier and S. Jackson I felt to be valid. The readers’ beliefs keep switching back and forth from Samuel’s fear that his mother was murdered by a cruel caretaker to wondering if this belief is a runaway fantasy of a damaged child separated from a parent for too long. A compulsive read. Recommended for those who enjoy a psychological mystery over an action packed one.
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  • JE Owen
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely loved this book. Its hard to write about this without giving away spoilers so I'll say nothing at all about the plot except that it is a nail biting read, your belief about what is going on twists and turns as the story develops. Wonderful characters that just seem so real.5 out of 5!
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  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    Haunting and dark as hell. Memorable.Only readalike I can think of without giving away any plot points is Iain Reid's I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS.Thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy.
  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    Nine-year-old Samuel Clay lives with the family's housekeeper, Ruth, on a deteriorating English estate.  His father has died and his mother has traveled to America to secure capital for their failing business.It's been over five months since Samuel has spoken to his mother; he receives random postcards from her and marks her locations in an atlas in the study.  He misses her terribly and is upset she left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.Samuel's imagination runs wild and all it Nine-year-old Samuel Clay lives with the family's housekeeper, Ruth, on a deteriorating English estate.  His father has died and his mother has traveled to America to secure capital for their failing business.It's been over five months since Samuel has spoken to his mother; he receives random postcards from her and marks her locations in an atlas in the study.  He misses her terribly and is upset she left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.Samuel's imagination runs wild and all it takes is a few comments from his best friend to make him question if his mother really left the country at all.  Samuel begins to think Ruth had something to do with his mother's disappearance, why else would she be gone for so long?Ruth takes care of the home and Samuel with the little money available but she is cold detached and refuses to put up with any nonsense.  Normal daily routines soon fill with the unease of a domestic thriller as readers wonder if Ruth is hiding something.Samuel's investigation sends him searching the cellar and spying in to locked rooms while Ruth grows more furious by the day at all the questions and sneaking around.  The psychological show down between Samuel and Ruth is a slow burn, and I can definitely see the comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier as a simple story of a boy yearning for his mother and dealing with the loss of his father turns in to an unsettling tale of possible murder.I loved that a nine-year-old's imagination allows the reader to find the jump from "mother abroad for business" to "murdered by the housekeeper" completely plausible.  A child can turn anything into a mystery and put everyone under suspicion.  There were moments when I felt Ruth was a total villain and others where I saw an adult making hard choices for a family in the mother's absence.While I know some readers will feel this story falls flat because it lacks action, many will enjoy the psychological dance between truth and perception.  I'm not honestly sure what ending I expected or even wanted, but it is chilling!Thanks to Hanover Square Press and Edelweiss for a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  The Boy at the Keyhole is scheduled for release on September 4, 2018.For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Harlequin Press for an e-copy of The Boy at the Keyhole for review. This short little novel was pretty dark. Nine year old Samuel’s mother left one night without a word for business in America. He is left with the housekeeper, Ruth, with only sporadic postcards to remember her by. As Samuel wonder if his mother will ever come back, he starts to suspect that maybe something more sinister is afoot. Maybe Ruth killed her, and he needs the proof.Very quick little story, I liked the tone an Thank you Harlequin Press for an e-copy of The Boy at the Keyhole for review. This short little novel was pretty dark. Nine year old Samuel’s mother left one night without a word for business in America. He is left with the housekeeper, Ruth, with only sporadic postcards to remember her by. As Samuel wonder if his mother will ever come back, he starts to suspect that maybe something more sinister is afoot. Maybe Ruth killed her, and he needs the proof.Very quick little story, I liked the tone and pace. Available September 4/18, this might be a good Halloween read.
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  • SheLovesThePages
    January 1, 1970
    I was given this book by Netgalley and Hanover Square Press to review. Publication Date-Sept 4, 2018.This book is set in England and has that upstairs/downstairs vibe. It is told through the eyes of a 9 year old boy who suspects the housekeeper of killing his mother.The writing is well done. And just when you think you may have it figured out, you don’t. So it does have you guessing throughout.It is a short, fast read. Made me anxious reading it. The story does seem hurried, it seemed that it st I was given this book by Netgalley and Hanover Square Press to review. Publication Date-Sept 4, 2018.This book is set in England and has that upstairs/downstairs vibe. It is told through the eyes of a 9 year old boy who suspects the housekeeper of killing his mother.The writing is well done. And just when you think you may have it figured out, you don’t. So it does have you guessing throughout.It is a short, fast read. Made me anxious reading it. The story does seem hurried, it seemed that it started too quickly and ended too quickly.
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  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    This to me is the quintessential two star book. If you looked up "Goodreads two star rating" in a dictionary, there should be a picture of The Boy at the Keyhole. Everything about this was fine. The dialogue, the pacing, the plot - all perfectly fine and serviceable. Nothing wrong with any of it, but nothing awe-inspiring - or even above average - either. This is a tight little psychological "thriller." I did not find it especially thrilling myself. I found it to be... fine.At 268 pages this is This to me is the quintessential two star book. If you looked up "Goodreads two star rating" in a dictionary, there should be a picture of The Boy at the Keyhole. Everything about this was fine. The dialogue, the pacing, the plot - all perfectly fine and serviceable. Nothing wrong with any of it, but nothing awe-inspiring - or even above average - either. This is a tight little psychological "thriller." I did not find it especially thrilling myself. I found it to be... fine.At 268 pages this is not a long read, but still felt like it dragged in spots. A couple of the plot twists were telegraphed long before they occurred. The ending was not particularly satisfying. I'm not sure that I agree that the protagonist would have acted in the way that they did in the climax. The denouement felt unsatisfying and incomplete. Yet, it held my attention all the way through.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Hanover Square Press for the free copy in exchange for my honest review. THE BOY AT THE KEYHOLE has a Gothic vibe and a growing sense of dread as the story progresses. It was a little slow in the beginning for me, so it's good to know right away that this isn't a twisty thriller. This is a slower burn suspense novel, but once that suspense amps up you won't be able to stop flipping the pages. Samuel Clay is a nine year old boy living with his full time housekeeper turned nanny. His mot Thanks to Hanover Square Press for the free copy in exchange for my honest review. THE BOY AT THE KEYHOLE has a Gothic vibe and a growing sense of dread as the story progresses. It was a little slow in the beginning for me, so it's good to know right away that this isn't a twisty thriller. This is a slower burn suspense novel, but once that suspense amps up you won't be able to stop flipping the pages. Samuel Clay is a nine year old boy living with his full time housekeeper turned nanny. His mother is away in America to try and settle with bankers and get more money for the family after Samuel's father passed away. Ruth, the housekeeper, runs a strict household and keeps Samuel in line. With his mother being gone for over 100 days he begins to suspect that something isn't right. His friend Joseph tells him a story of a nanny in Germany that had killed the family she worked for and continued to live in their home for months after. She claimed that the family had to suddenly leave to America and left in the middle of the night - just like Samuel's mother did. Samuel begins to let his mind run wild and is convinced that Ruth killed his mother and hid her in the cellar. As the story picks up in the second half, we can't be sure who to trust. Is Samuel right? Is his mind playing tricks on him? It was very different having the potentially unreliable narrator be that of a child - this is told entirely from Samuel's perspective. There will be chapters where you're convinced it's Ruth, and then others where you doubt Samuel's sanity and judgement. The ending surprised me and left me wanting more answers! What happened? What's going to happen? I know not many people like these types of endings - where they aren't tied together perfectly - but I love them. This was a solid suspense novel and I can't wait to see what Giles comes out with next! I give this 4/5 stars!
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  • Kelly Hager
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the creepiest, saddest books I've ever read. We don't know what's happened to Samuel's mom and we don't know who's right. And obviously either Ruth is a woman who's taking care of a boy who's getting increasingly disturbed and trying to keep a house from falling apart and doing everything she can to keep money coming in and food on the table, or Samuel's right and she's a monster who killed his mom. There's really ample evidence for either interpretation.As I read, I kept finding This is one of the creepiest, saddest books I've ever read. We don't know what's happened to Samuel's mom and we don't know who's right. And obviously either Ruth is a woman who's taking care of a boy who's getting increasingly disturbed and trying to keep a house from falling apart and doing everything she can to keep money coming in and food on the table, or Samuel's right and she's a monster who killed his mom. There's really ample evidence for either interpretation.As I read, I kept finding myself going back and forth on what I believed. It's always clear that SAMUEL believes that his mother is dead (why else would she be gone for so long, and unable to be contacted?) but it's hard to believe it at the same time. (Why would she stay?)This book kept me guessing up til the last minute and it is completely intense.Recommended.
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  • Dena
    January 1, 1970
    While I did enjoy this book, I have to say that this read more like a middle grade to YA book, rather than an Adult novel. It is being compared to Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, however, I didn't think that it had the depth or sophistication of those authors. That said, I did like the story and the Gothic feel of the book, and I was quite intrigued to know what happened to Samuel's mother. The ending was the best part and made the rest of the book worth reading.
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  • Out of the Bex
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come!
  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    From my blog and instagram account - @livereadandprosperSamuel is a quirky nine year old who lives in a wondrous estate and is being taken care of by his housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's mom has gone to America on a "business trip" and Samuel has not heard from her in a long time. He gets postcards from his mom when he's seeming to question her whereabouts more often than other days. Samuel speaks with his friend Joseph who suggests that something has happened to his mother. His mom did leave months a From my blog and instagram account - @livereadandprosperSamuel is a quirky nine year old who lives in a wondrous estate and is being taken care of by his housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's mom has gone to America on a "business trip" and Samuel has not heard from her in a long time. He gets postcards from his mom when he's seeming to question her whereabouts more often than other days. Samuel speaks with his friend Joseph who suggests that something has happened to his mother. His mom did leave months ago without saying goodbye...so maybe something bad HAS happened to her! Ruth seems to dismiss this, so naturally Samuel thinks she is up to no good. What happened to his mother? Is Ruth responsible for her long stay away?I thought the author did a great job at incorporating the voice of a nine year old boy. It's not an easy task and I truly felt like I was in his head the whole time. I felt the story dragged on longer than it needed to. It could've been a really good short story. Most of the book was Samuel's sneaking around trying to find clues as to what happened to his mother. I was hooked in the beginning, but felt like I was being dragged through most of the storyline. The ending? Not my favorite at all. It was predictable and boring to say the least. I thought this had a lot of potential, but I digress... 2/5 Stars
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 2 stars I stopped reading this book at around 11% through, I figure that if I haven't gotten into it by that point then I no longer want to spend time trying to get into it. I'm going to create a list of things that I felt did not work with this book: 1) There was no use of transitions between the scenes, which gave the book a very choppy feel to it. 2) The characters lacked depth. For the first part of the book, the part I couldn't se I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 2 stars I stopped reading this book at around 11% through, I figure that if I haven't gotten into it by that point then I no longer want to spend time trying to get into it. I'm going to create a list of things that I felt did not work with this book: 1) There was no use of transitions between the scenes, which gave the book a very choppy feel to it. 2) The characters lacked depth. For the first part of the book, the part I couldn't seem to get past, was the fact that they were repeating themselves for the whole time. This child's mother disappeared, I understood that from the first page, but the fact that he kept asking the maid or the housekeeper where she went and when she was coming home, it became very annoying. A child knows to ask more questions than just those ones. I feel this character could've been made stronger. 3) The characters almost didn't seem to fit the story that they were placed into. 4) The writing style was very repetitive. Those are just a few of the things I picked up on from the first 11%, but I didn't feel willing to watch the characters go around in circles and wait for something to happen.
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Samuel is left in the care of the housekeeper Ruth while his mother is away for 100+ days and counting. He becomes convinced that Ruth has actually killed his mother. I'm only giving this one 2 stars, but that is more because this type of book is just not my thing rather than anything wrong with the book, which was actually really gripping. I read it very quickly to see what would happen between Samuel and Ruth, alternately believing Ruth and agreeing with Samuel. The problem for me, though, is Samuel is left in the care of the housekeeper Ruth while his mother is away for 100+ days and counting. He becomes convinced that Ruth has actually killed his mother. I'm only giving this one 2 stars, but that is more because this type of book is just not my thing rather than anything wrong with the book, which was actually really gripping. I read it very quickly to see what would happen between Samuel and Ruth, alternately believing Ruth and agreeing with Samuel. The problem for me, though, is that I don't like these "slow burn" stories. It's compared to Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier, neither of whom I really enjoy. (Then why did I want to read this? I don't know...) I always feel the slow buildup of tension should end with a bang, a screaming conclusion, but it always seems a little anticlimactic when things are merely implied or left unsaid. I couldn't put it down but felt unsatisfied at the end, like I'd raced through for nothing. Again, more my personal taste than story quality makes this only 2 stars for me.I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley.
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    This is a physiological drama told from the point of view of a nine-year old boy. It’s a unique perspective to see young Samuel Clay’s view of his world, one where his mother Margot has been away for more than 100 days.He receives no phone calls, no telegrams or packages. The only thing he waits for are the few postcards his mother sends from her travels across the United States and of course, his hope of her return. Samuel lives alone in a large estate in Surrey England with only the housekeepe This is a physiological drama told from the point of view of a nine-year old boy. It’s a unique perspective to see young Samuel Clay’s view of his world, one where his mother Margot has been away for more than 100 days.He receives no phone calls, no telegrams or packages. The only thing he waits for are the few postcards his mother sends from her travels across the United States and of course, his hope of her return. Samuel lives alone in a large estate in Surrey England with only the housekeeper, Ruth, to attend to his needs.Samuel tracks his mother’s travels using an atlas and pins when he receives a postcard. Being a person who loves maps, it’s particularly enjoyable to read about the atlas and Samuel putting colored pins in Boston, San Francisco, London, Bath and Penzance.Samuel’s father died a few years ago and the dire financial state of affairs prompted Margot Clay to go “fund raising” across the country and the USA to raise money. She left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye to her son. Ruth takes care of Samuel by cooking and cleaning. You suspect Ruth in the beginning of withholding information from the boy.As you read the story from a nine-year old’s point of view, the adult reader can see and understand some of the reality of the situation. An example of that is when Samuel sneaks into his mother’s room and steals letters his mother had written to her husband.You get the idea that Margo Clay had been in an institution or some home. Samuel remembered that from a remark by his father about Margot being away in bath where there would be peace and quiet. She evidently wasn’t suited to domestic life. In a letter from Margot to Samuel’s father she implores him not to bring he boy next time he visits as his arms around her make her feel as if she is sinking in the water. Not everyone is suited to be parent. When Ruth catches the boy in his mother’s room she berates him and tells him he should be ashamed snooping around.“Ruth didn’t understand that he was only trying to be near his mother, she was a creature in orbit and the one way he could feel close to her was to linger in the traces she left behind.”Ruth is really a piece of work – alternately making his favorite meals, asking about homework then berating him and being mentally abusive. The ending wasn’t what I thought might happen, quite a surprise actually. Can’t say I didn’t have questions about that and since they will be spoilers, I won’t talk about it here.  Goodreads has a spoiler feature so I will add my thoughts about that there.I always notice the foodie parts in a book. Here are the offerings:Shortbread, cake, freshly baked bread, roast beef and potatoes with peas, mince pie, eggs and sausages, roasted chicken and potatoes, roasted lamb, roast rabbit and chestnut stuffing, tea cakes and lemon tarts.As I love making bread, the baguettes seemed a good option. (photos on my blog)My thoughts about the end of the book/resolution below. Warning, spoilers:(view spoiler)[ Since it was clear by the end of the book that Ruth had no more maternal instincts than Samuel's mother, why did she seem to defend him near the end? If she wanted to be free of the boy she only needed to call the police right there at the end and turn him in. She could have told them the boy was crazy and she would have been believed over a non-year old.What did they do with Margot Clay? Into the river? What happened after the unfortunate scissor scene?I also wanted to know what happened to Samuel as his uncle didn't want him and there didn't seem to be any other relatives who could or would take him. The end sentences sound like he was expecting Ruth to walk away forever. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Patty Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley, Hanover Square Press, and Stephen Giles for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy.Poor Samuel has been left all alone with the housekeeper, Ruth, while his mother has gone off, in the middle of the night, without saying goodbye, on a trip to America, to drum up much needed funds. Set in the 1960’s, on a dilapidated English estate, Samuel has no one. His father has died, his mother gone for mon Thank you to Netgalley, Hanover Square Press, and Stephen Giles for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy.Poor Samuel has been left all alone with the housekeeper, Ruth, while his mother has gone off, in the middle of the night, without saying goodbye, on a trip to America, to drum up much needed funds. Set in the 1960’s, on a dilapidated English estate, Samuel has no one. His father has died, his mother gone for months, and the staff have all been let go except for Ruth and William, the gardener. He has only one friend in the world, Jacob, who loves a conspiracy theory, as any nine year old boy with an iota of an imagination does. Ruth is strict, often cruel, and full of secrets and lies. Samuel is convinced that she murdered his mother. Mothers love their children and would never have abandoned him like this. After all, he was “her little man” and Sam knows she loved him fiercely. But how can he prove it? Ruth keeps all the rooms locked and he is forced to spy through keyholes to uncover the truth about what Ruth has done to his mother. This did not do it for me. It wasn’t sufficiently creepy enough. I love the feeling you get when you are almost afraid to turn the page because you don’t know what is going to happen next and you are scared! The tension never reached an “on the edge of your seat” level. The suspense didn’t build. I figured out what was going on almost right from the very beginning and was disappointed when I was right. Where is the imagination? And I am not one to try and figure out what is going on, I rather just let the story wash over me and experience it as I’m reading. The characters were weak. I didn’t understand their motivation for anything they did, so I found them unbelievable. I really didn’t care what happened to Samuel, his mother, Ruth - not invested at all. The writing felt forced and contrived. It dragged for me quite a bit and all of that would have been forgiven if it had a great ending. But the ending was hardly great.I’m sorry to say, this is a pass for me.
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  • Natalie [genreneutralreader]
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. I seem to be on a roll with reading great gothic mysteries over the last month. This is my fourth one during that time frame and each of them have warranted 4 or 5 stars from me. The Boy at the Keyhole is likely to be one that people are either going to love or hate. I LOVED it. It had shades of Stephen King's Misery to it, where instead of a writer and his Number One fan, this tale is of a young boy, Samuel, and his family's housekeeper, Ruth. It takes place in a manor house in Engla 4.5 stars. I seem to be on a roll with reading great gothic mysteries over the last month. This is my fourth one during that time frame and each of them have warranted 4 or 5 stars from me. The Boy at the Keyhole is likely to be one that people are either going to love or hate. I LOVED it. It had shades of Stephen King's Misery to it, where instead of a writer and his Number One fan, this tale is of a young boy, Samuel, and his family's housekeeper, Ruth. It takes place in a manor house in England, where the boy has been left alone with the housekeeper for over 4 months while his mother supposedly is on an extended business trip to America. The only communication he gets from his mom are sporadic post cards.Ruth's controlling nature and micro-attention to every move Samuel makes combined with lack of needed parental affection creates a palpable claustrophobic atmosphere. Ruth is a mind-twister, turning every worry Samuel has into something that makes it seem he is crazy. She exudes no warmth, just a sense of duty and sometimes outright cruelty. With his sense of neglect growing, and with the aide of the power of suggestion of a friend, Samuel begins to imagine worse and worse scenarios with Ruth in the role of chief villain.Is his imagination running away with him, or is there something to it?I read this book in less than a day and loved every moment of it. I'll put a trigger warning in this post regarding some child-abuse, both physical and mental. The ONLY reason I knocked off one star was that the ending was too abrupt to be fully satisfying. Also, like Misery, I think this would make and excellent movie.Thanks to Stephen Giles, Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for an advanced ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 rounded up to 3 stars.I received an ARC of this novel via NetGalley and Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. Samuel is a nine year old boy who lives in England and is being cared for by his strict and sometimes violent housekeeper Ruth, after his mother disappeared late one evening. Nobody will tell him when his mother will return only that she left for America to take care of business. He receives post cards from her but he is not allowed to speak with her on the phone or write to he 2.5 rounded up to 3 stars.I received an ARC of this novel via NetGalley and Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. Samuel is a nine year old boy who lives in England and is being cared for by his strict and sometimes violent housekeeper Ruth, after his mother disappeared late one evening. Nobody will tell him when his mother will return only that she left for America to take care of business. He receives post cards from her but he is not allowed to speak with her on the phone or write to her. Samuel, not understanding why his mother never said goodbye and why she has been away from him for so long begins to question her disappearance. He becomes obsessed with discovering the mystery behind his missing mother and is convinced that her trip to America might be a cover up for murder.The Boy at the Keyhole is a mysterious novella in which a young boy tries to discover the truth behind his mother’s disappearance. This novella is marketed as a psychological thriller, and while it might qualify for the genre, I felt like it fell short. Samuel is a very inquisitive child who dislikes his caretaker Ruth and is desperate for his mother to return home. When his attempts at finding information continue to get thwarted, he becomes convinced that something terrible has happened to her. Most of the mystery, for the reader, is exposed early on when Samuel discovers some old letters and what we are left with is a nine year old's perspectives of the evidence. His vivid imagination leads to a downward spiral into despair at his mother’s absence and ends with a rather strange twist and maybe even a few more unanswered questions. Although I did not dislike this novella, I felt like it had a really good premise but just didn't deliver a well-developed product.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.The Boy at the Keyhole has the makings of a psychological thriller with the debate between perception and reality surrounding Samuel, a young English boy yearning for his mother, who mysteriously departs for America for 'business reasons', leaving him in the care of Ruth the housekeeper. The only communication he receives from his mother are periodic postcards from various American cities. As the days turn into weeks, Samuel quest Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.The Boy at the Keyhole has the makings of a psychological thriller with the debate between perception and reality surrounding Samuel, a young English boy yearning for his mother, who mysteriously departs for America for 'business reasons', leaving him in the care of Ruth the housekeeper. The only communication he receives from his mother are periodic postcards from various American cities. As the days turn into weeks, Samuel questions his mother's departure and wonders if something untoward has happened. The story is told through Samuel's eyes as he explores his home and gradually believes something is amiss - he struggles to retain his innocence as mounting evidence (?) suggests that Ruth has murdered his mother, yet he has few people with whom he can confide. After all, who would believe him?The overall premise drew me to this story, hoping it'd be a suspenseful cat-and-mouse game between Samuel and Ruth, but the ending (and its buildup) was whelming at best, and - worst of all - vague and unresolved. Also, the time period in which the story is set - 1960's - was bewildering; there might have been more tension and plausibility to Ruth's insistence that his mother was in America for seemingly an extraordinary amount of time if the story was set in the 1920's or 1930's, when travel was more arduous, and communication was not as direct. The lack of concrete resolution at the very end left me with more questions than answers.
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