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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 w 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.


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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 w 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.

30 review for The Boy at the Keyhole

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    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".

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    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: 9/4/18 Published to GR: 7/15/18

  4. 5 out of 5

    DJ Sakata

    Favorite Quotes: Ruth could do that. Make a decree, like a queen or something, that certain topics had reached their end and that would be that. Now that he stood on the precipice of this wrongdoing, he felt the fluttering in his chest that made every breath sound as if he were sitting on a rattling train. The same wine his mother said made his father prone to unsettling fits of national pride and falling asleep midsentence. Part of the reason Samuel was sent to the local school and not somewhere m Favorite Quotes: Ruth could do that. Make a decree, like a queen or something, that certain topics had reached their end and that would be that. Now that he stood on the precipice of this wrongdoing, he felt the fluttering in his chest that made every breath sound as if he were sitting on a rattling train. The same wine his mother said made his father prone to unsettling fits of national pride and falling asleep midsentence. Part of the reason Samuel was sent to the local school and not somewhere more distinguished, like his father and uncle had, was because his mother didn’t want him turning out like his uncle Felix, who she said was a pompous buffoon wrapped in tweed, dipped in gin and rolled in horsehair. Samuel saw the lies easily enough; they practically leached from her skin like poisonous gas. She twisted everything, turning the truth in on itself until it looked like something else. My Review: I am in quite a pique over the ending, or lack thereof, so rating this skillfully crafted book puts me in a quandary. The story didn’t seem anywhere near a stopping point, yet it ended. Gah – I am infuriated as I was riveted to my Kindle while reading and hissed in complaint at any interruption. Needless to say, adulting did not happen today, as evidenced by my profane and childish reaction to hitting the last page. Yet, I cannot deny that Stephen Giles is a master storyteller who is extremely gifted with the word voodoo. His writing was mesmerizing and laced with observant details and massive insightfulness into the mind of a child. His characters were compelling and deftly written, I was eager to learn every little nuance I could wring from the narrative. His storylines were tautly written and adroitly textured, I was on edge and keenly interested throughout. I couldn’t settle on a theory and developed and cast off several while reading. The housekeeper was vile and monstrous, harsh on a good day; the mother was absent, irresponsible, and self-absorbed; and the child – oh, he squeezed my heart, I ached for him. But that ending - he really left me hanging, would it have killed him to have kept going just a few more pages? It rankles, but I have to give him his due. Sigh, 5-Stars. This would make an excellent movie.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris Mara

    A suspenseful psychological thriller involving Samuel, a 9 year old boy and his, and the estate homes’ caretaker, Ruth. Honestly, I could not put this book down! Ruth is a questionable person at the get go. No one really knows of her personal or professional background. She is brusque, she is a perfectionist, very strict and runs the home with an iron will and fist. She also runs 9 year old Samuel, her charge, with that same controlling manner. This woman, while she cooks and cleans impeccably a A suspenseful psychological thriller involving Samuel, a 9 year old boy and his, and the estate homes’ caretaker, Ruth. Honestly, I could not put this book down! Ruth is a questionable person at the get go. No one really knows of her personal or professional background. She is brusque, she is a perfectionist, very strict and runs the home with an iron will and fist. She also runs 9 year old Samuel, her charge, with that same controlling manner. This woman, while she cooks and cleans impeccably and complains about everything she has to do as if it’s a heavy burden on her, takes on the responsibility of taking care of Samuel in much the same way. This poor, poor boy. He has endured her wrath by constant, continual verbal barrage and he has felt the pain of her physical abuse. She is not to be reckoned with. She constantly hovers and checks on Samuel all the time. This poor kid cannot go anywhere in the house with her yelling or looking for him, “Samuel, where are you?” “Samuel, this and Samuel that” Good grief, the kid does not even have a moment away in peace or time to think! She is constantly on his case. He can’t even breathe or sleep properly. His only time away from her is when he goes to school, and it is there that his best friend, Joseph, plants a seed of doubt about Ruth and about Samuel’s mother. There are rumors that when Samuel’s father died, the family was in a negative financial situation. Samuel’s mother, who was better at finances than her husband, takes off for the States to talk to banks and try to straighten things out. Already a portion of this Surrey estate has had to be sold off. Some of the staff has had to be let go or have not been paid their wages. As time goes on, running the house with less to no money becomes a responsibility and a burden to Ruth. She improvises in various ways, you will see. Back to Samuel’s mother - How she leaves is quite questionable to the reader and also to Samuel. Samuel loves and adores his mother so very much. He can’t wait for her to come back home. He keeps calling up memories of her. He sneaks into her bedroom to touch a dress she used to wear; to smell some fading perfume she used. He asks about his mother constantly, much to Ruth’s chagrin. Samuel does get short postcards from his Mum from the U.S. and they bring him joy and hope that she is on her way back to being with him. But... We find that her feelings for her child, Samuel, are not the same or motherly, and we all know this happens. That she suffered from a long stint of post partum depression and/or a nervous breakdown of sorts. Samuel’s father was the primary parent as she couldn’t, just couldn’t, didn’t want to be by him, take him away please, Ruth; it was very sad and heartbreaking but it explains the situation he is in right now and also Ruth. I cannot even imagine. This poor, poor boy who adores and looks up to his mother and waits for her to walk in the front door; to come home to be with him. In retrospect, there are ways in which Ruth acts as a mother figure in the absence of Samuel’s birth mother. She looks out for him, feeds and clothes him, takes care of the house to live comfortably in, tries to make sure he stays out of trouble, urges him to do his homework and quit wasting time snooping around or silly-dallying home from school. She eats meals with him and engages in conversations with him. Gets him up for school and to bed on time. Yet...she is not his mother, but his caretaker and the estates’ housekeeper in his mother’s absence. I think the lines get blurred somewhere along the way. In the meantime, Samuel and Ruth are literally in each other’s faces at the house every day. Ruth is not very forthcoming to Samuel’s constant barrage of questions about his mother. So Samuel starts to do some super sleuthing of his own. He’s pretty good at it. I give this kid credit for a 9 year old mind! He gets caught many times; either he gets away with it or there’s a price to pay by Ruth. I mean, through this whole book, I didn’t know who to believe. I didn’t know who this poor child could turn to. I didn’t know how long he could survive in an environment, being taken care by someone other than family. I had questions about Ruth and her mental state. Was Ruth impersonating someone else? I had questions about a 9 year old boy who might be making up stories. I didn’t know if Ruth was right in saying that Samuel was touched in the head by all this commotion about his mother and if he went to the doctor, he might be institutionalized. The gardener was creepy and of absolutely no help. I didn’t know if Samuel’s mother was dead or alive or if she ran away to the States never to return! I didn’t know who took or what happened to the missing jewelry. The rabbit, Robin Hood, which was wild, but still a pet of Samuel’s, is missing and shows up in a stew pot at dinner, because as Ruth says, there’s no money and we do have to eat, so eat, Samuel, eat! GAH!!!! 🙀 I’m stopping right here, right now, because the rest of the story lays ahead only for you to read on your own and whew, it’s a really good twisted, mind boggling tale.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    Thank you to Harlequin - Hanover Square Press and Stephen Giles for an advanced copy of The Boy at the Keyhole. This was a psychological brain teaser to say the least! There was much to be enjoyed with this book but also a little slow in places. If you are a big fan of slow burns that tease through plausible outcomes until the final reveal, this is a book that may appeal to you. The plot is about a 9-year-old boy living in England. His family home is bankrupt with most of the servants having alr Thank you to Harlequin - Hanover Square Press and Stephen Giles for an advanced copy of The Boy at the Keyhole. This was a psychological brain teaser to say the least! There was much to be enjoyed with this book but also a little slow in places. If you are a big fan of slow burns that tease through plausible outcomes until the final reveal, this is a book that may appeal to you. The plot is about a 9-year-old boy living in England. His family home is bankrupt with most of the servants having already been let go due to lack of money. Samuel’s mother has left in the middle of the night (without saying goodbye to Samuel) 4 months ago to travel around America with hopes of drumming up money to save their flailing family business. Samuel’s father died the year before so the one remaining housekeeper Ruth has been left in charge to care for the boy. Samuel misses his mother desperately and can’t understand why she left and has been gone so long. He pesters Ruth daily asking when will his mother be home? With only a handful of postcards that have been sent by his mom during her travels, Samuel is having a hard time comprehending how his mother could stand to be away from him for so long with hardly any contact. Then one day, after talking with his best friend Joseph, Samuel begins to contemplate if his mom really did go to America or did Ruth kill her? At the heart of this story is a little boy’s need to be with his mom and what can happen over time when this pain is left to fester. The author cleverly writes from a child’s perspective so we see simple deductions being made from a 9 year old’s mind. This adds a layer of suspense and uncertainty to the plot. I had no idea what the truth was until the very end. The descriptive prose is also well done although at times overwhelmed the plot for me. It was an intriguing mystery with robust character development and a fascinating psychological aspect exploring child obsession. An easy read that will keep you guessing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    The Boy in the Keyhole has all the elements of a great thriller - a decaying estate in England, an abusive housekeeper, and a curious boy trying to figure out what happened to his mother. I could not put this book down, but the big, pivotal moment I was waiting for never materialized. I was extremely confused about the ending. It definitely kept my interest, but left me unsatisfied at the end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    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

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie

    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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    This slow burn of a psychological mystery will leave you guessing what is true and what is not. What else is a nine-year-old boy supposed to do when his mother leaves to go to another country in the middle of the night without even saying goodbye? Of course he's going to try and figure out why she would do such a thing. Enter his friend who starts putting ideas of murder in his head and watch the wheels start to turn! Ruth, the housekeeper and now his guardian is not the nicest. She's strict, alm This slow burn of a psychological mystery will leave you guessing what is true and what is not. What else is a nine-year-old boy supposed to do when his mother leaves to go to another country in the middle of the night without even saying goodbye? Of course he's going to try and figure out why she would do such a thing. Enter his friend who starts putting ideas of murder in his head and watch the wheels start to turn! Ruth, the housekeeper and now his guardian is not the nicest. She's strict, almost abusive, and definitely has secrets of her own. Suspect number one and the easiest to question. But how does he prove that she killed his mother... if she even did? We get the full on gothic feel with the house that probably carries ghosts, having a scary attic and basement, and the slow build as we watch Samuel's mind work overtime. However, is he imaging these clues or is it all so real? We all know how imaginative children's minds can be. What Giles does wonderfully is to put us in the mind of Samuel. Do not go into this expecting a fast paced thriller that's nicely tied up. Walk into this with trepidation and get into Samuel's head. This slow burn will really bring you straight in. I will say that it did drag in certain parts and I think may have worked better as a novella. However, I was intrigued to see what was going to happen and where the author would take me. Thank you to the publisher for this copy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    "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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Long

    I read an ARC of this book. This was a slow burn that turned into a dud. That ending... What a letdown.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I enjoyed Giles' writing and the voice he gave to Samuel - the way he mimicked / repeated the words of his parents / Ruth - but I agree with other reviews... we went around in circles a lot before the final scenes and I didn't find Samuel particularly engaging or Ruth very consistent. Given 4mths had passed since Samuel's mother had left it seemed a little strange that he was now suddenly becoming agitated. As for the final scenes... they were a tad confusing and frustrating after such a slow bu I enjoyed Giles' writing and the voice he gave to Samuel - the way he mimicked / repeated the words of his parents / Ruth - but I agree with other reviews... we went around in circles a lot before the final scenes and I didn't find Samuel particularly engaging or Ruth very consistent. Given 4mths had passed since Samuel's mother had left it seemed a little strange that he was now suddenly becoming agitated. As for the final scenes... they were a tad confusing and frustrating after such a slow build-up of potential climaxes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)

    A young boy's mother goes away in the night without saying a word, leaving him under the care of a stern housekeeper. But so much time passes that Samuel begins to think she didn't leave him at all, but rather something more nefarious happened—and someone is covering it up. I love the idea of this book, but it didn't work for me. The good news is that it is a very quick, one-sitting type read that doesn't ask to be drawn out. The comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier lean solely on A young boy's mother goes away in the night without saying a word, leaving him under the care of a stern housekeeper. But so much time passes that Samuel begins to think she didn't leave him at all, but rather something more nefarious happened—and someone is covering it up. I love the idea of this book, but it didn't work for me. The good news is that it is a very quick, one-sitting type read that doesn't ask to be drawn out. The comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier lean solely on the fact that this is a gothic novel in a spooky old house. There is none of Jackson's deft character work and precise observations or du Maurier's florid and overwhelmingly beautiful prose. Don't go into this book expecting an interesting, classic, or stylistic tale like those authors offer. The story stumbles repetitively along to a conclusion that is ultimately disappointing, not to mention confusing. The whole point of the book is to put the reader in Samuel's shoes and have us wondering along with him whether his mother is dead, who is involved, or whether everything is just as the housekeeper says. But Samuel is a child and is not a quick at putting together clues as any reader will be. This takes a lot of the tension out of the plot, and as any good reader knows, the person who seems the most likely suspect usually didn't do it. My thanks to Hanover Square Press for sending me an advance copy of this book to read and review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    JE Owen

    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!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    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

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Coleen

    There are essentially two main characters in this story: nine year old Samuel, and the housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's mother left the home [more of an estate] in England in the middle of the night without any contact with Samuel, presumably going to America to seek funds to continue the family business and maintain their estate. From there, the book seems to drag. At least, it did for me. Occasionally another person, such as Samuel's best friend, or the gardener on the estate, makes an appearance. Bu There are essentially two main characters in this story: nine year old Samuel, and the housekeeper Ruth. Samuel's mother left the home [more of an estate] in England in the middle of the night without any contact with Samuel, presumably going to America to seek funds to continue the family business and maintain their estate. From there, the book seems to drag. At least, it did for me. Occasionally another person, such as Samuel's best friend, or the gardener on the estate, makes an appearance. But for the most part, Samuel's thoughts, such as they are, and his behavior, comprise the plot. Without giving away anything about the ending, suffice to note that like many other books, I did not care for it, but I did not really understand it either. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    I picked this up because it had a comparison to Shirley Jackson and while I was initially hesitant, because those comps never work out for me, I totally saw it. It isn’t the characters from We Have Always Lived in the Castle but it is the similar vibe of the mystery, and everything basically taking place all in the house. In this case Samuel, a nine-year-old British boy, is desperately missing his mother who abruptly left to America without saying goodbye. Cared for only by Ruth, the housekeeper I picked this up because it had a comparison to Shirley Jackson and while I was initially hesitant, because those comps never work out for me, I totally saw it. It isn’t the characters from We Have Always Lived in the Castle but it is the similar vibe of the mystery, and everything basically taking place all in the house. In this case Samuel, a nine-year-old British boy, is desperately missing his mother who abruptly left to America without saying goodbye. Cared for only by Ruth, the housekeeper, he soon lets his imagination go rampant into theories of his mother having been murdered instead of being in America seeking financial support. But is it his imagination? Because Ruth sure does seem to be controlling things and, aside from some postcards, he has yet to actually hear from his mother… --from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: https://link.bookriot.com/view/56a820...

  26. 5 out of 5

    SheLovesThePages

    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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm struggling with The Poppy War, so for a quick afternoon read I picked up this, a speedily-digested treatise on the importance of not forcing one to comply with gender roles for which one is ill-suited & also not participating in campaigns of misinformation against young children.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hager

    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.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Out of the Bex

    Review to come!

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