The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy of the book.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.


I literally read this book in one sitting. Samuel’s narration drew me in right away, and I absolutely had to keep going to figure out why he was so certain that Ruth had killed his mother.

I’m not going to say much about the plot because I’ll give things away, so instead I’ll focus on the characters and the atmosphere. I loved both of them. The atmosphere was perfect. I’m not sure that it was ever described the way I had visualized it, but I had the best scenery in my mind as I read. There was a perfect gothic element/feel to the story, and it felt like an extra character.

As for the characters, there was a great mix of personalities. Everyone had that one trait or flaw that fit perfectly with everyone else in the story, almost like puzzle pieces. But of course, you need to remember that you’re hearing this from the viewpoint of a 9-year-old, which absolutely colored the descriptions. I think it added a fun flair to the story, hearing it solely through Samuel’s perspective.

My only complaint, if you even want to call it that, was that I had been hoping for it to feel a little more intense, a little more dark. That being said, I don’t think it would’ve been possible with a 9-year-old narrator. That would’ve required the mental capacities of an adult, and Samuel was only a child. So while I wanted a little more in this area, it worked the way it was written.

Overall, this is definitely one worth checking out. It was a quick read, yet a slow burn, if that makes sense. A perfect dash of gothic seasoning for your autumn reading.

****GIVEAWAY**** I’m partnering with TLC Book Tours to give away a copy to one of you! Head over to my Instagram page to get yourself entered!

Book stats: Hardcover, 304 pages, Hanover Square Press, September 4, 2018

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for organizing this tour. You can follow along with the rest of the stops Here.

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