Allison: The Turning | Francine Prose | Book Review

the turning teaser

Ugh. You know what one of the worst feelings for me is? When I read a book and I’m honestly not quite sure what I just read. I mean, I like being confused, and feeling like I’m being pulled in twenty different directions without knowing which one is the right one and there is excitement and tension and I can’t seem to put down the book. I do not like when I’m reading a book and spend most of the time doing this:

National Treasure Gif

Unfortunately, this is what happened when I was reading The Turning by Francine Prose.

The Turning Cover

I am so disappointed. I really wanted to like The Turning. It sounded like it had so much potential, and even though I have never read the story which it is based on (The Turn of the Shrew), I was still interested to read this retelling for a younger audience. Admittedly, it started off on a good note with a creepy setting which could have built so much suspense. I mean, remote haunted island with mysterious little kids? It was practically begging for goosebumps on the arms and chills up and down the spine but unfortunately, it just did not deliver.

I think one of the biggest problems I had was the style in the way it was written. A part from the potentially awesome creepy setting, there was just so much lacking in the book for me. Starting with the fact that the story is told mainly through letters that the main character Jack is sending to his girlfriend Sophie and his father as he is away working on the island taking care of a two children. This just did not work. There was just no flow and it felt awkward and the transitions between the letters often times came out of nowhere. It was like “BAM! Something happens here”, and I would be like “What did I just read?”. It was so frustrating!

Another thing that was frustrating was the character of Jack himself. I could not for the life of me understand this character, and honestly I found myself not really caring as to what was happening to him. He seemed very whiny and became very bizarre in a not so good way. I just could not connect with him. And I couldn’t understand what was happening to him. Was he losing his mind? Having delusions? Becoming possessed? I just didn’t understand. I also found the relationship between him and Sophie to be very weird.

I guess I’m just so disappointed because I did feel like The Turning had so much potential. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read the book that it was based off of but, I just didn’t get the story. I didn’t understand what was happening to the main character, or if there were ghosts, or if something was wrong with the children, or the island itself. And it’s not creepy, or fun but instead is actually kind of annoying and messy, and all over the place. I just … did not care that much for it.  It may appeal to others (in particular younger readers) but not me.

Disclosure: An ARC was given to me by April

Other reviews of The Turning by Francine Prose:

Read Now Sleep Later: “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.

Hobbitsies: “The Turning was an interesting and super quick read read, one that I think is worth a shot if you’re into the creepy horror stuff, but I’m still trying to nail down my final feelings.

The Book Smugglers: “The Turning is a poorly-executed attempt at retelling Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.

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Allison is 27 years old. She is always looking for new books, good music, quality/epic adventures, and a normal sleep schedule. She currently works with the elderly.


  1. Oh dear! This book sounds horribly confusing to me, at least based on your review. While I’m sure parts of it must have appeared creepy (I mean, strange little children on an ISLAND), for the most part it seems… dry. I hadn’t heard too much about this one, but I’m disinclined to try it now.

  2. Hm I’m not into horror, I’ve never read the original, and after your review I really think I should stay away from this one. Thanks!

  3. From the sound of things, I can certainly understand why this novel didn’t work well for you! While I ordinarily love epistolary novels, I don’t know that letters are the best medium in which to create suspense and tension. In relating it all rather dispassionately through letters, Jack is already removing himself (and the reader) from the immediate impact of the events as he becomes little more than an impartial observer and reporter. I’m always on the lookout for horror novels, particularly in the young adult genre where they’re generally scarce, but it sounds like I should avoid this one as I have a feeling I would be sadly disappointed as well.

    This was a wonderful review, Allison. Thanks for reading this book so that we wouldn’t have to 😉

  4. That GIF is perfection. It had to be said.

    I haven’t heard very good things about The Turning, but it’s nice to know what to avoid from bloggers I trust. Thank you.

  5. Ugh, I agree—this book really did not work. Especially if you do compare it to The Turn of the Screw, which is really atmospheric and creepy. Like you said, the epistolary style was not done well at all, so it created this really awkward lack of momentum and build-up, and a total lack of characterization.

  6. I’m sorry you didn’t like it, it does sound like it had the potential to be awesomely creepy.

    I think it’s the letter format, I haven’t seen it work in a while.