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The Turnout

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Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott's revelatory, mesmerizing, and game-changing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio, and an interloper who arrives to bring down the carefully crafted Eden-like facade. Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott's revelatory, mesmerizing, and game-changing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio, and an interloper who arrives to bring down the carefully crafted Eden-like facade. Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, homeschooled and trained by their mother. Decades later the Durant School of Dance is theirs. The two sisters, together with Charlie, Dara's husband and once their mother's prize student, inherited the school after their parents died in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago. Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, back broken after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around each other, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school's annual performance of The Nutcracker, a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration, an interloper arrives and threatens the delicate balance of everything they've worked for. Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.


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Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott's revelatory, mesmerizing, and game-changing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio, and an interloper who arrives to bring down the carefully crafted Eden-like facade. Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott's revelatory, mesmerizing, and game-changing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio, and an interloper who arrives to bring down the carefully crafted Eden-like facade. Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, homeschooled and trained by their mother. Decades later the Durant School of Dance is theirs. The two sisters, together with Charlie, Dara's husband and once their mother's prize student, inherited the school after their parents died in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago. Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, back broken after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around each other, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school's annual performance of The Nutcracker, a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration, an interloper arrives and threatens the delicate balance of everything they've worked for. Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

30 review for The Turnout

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    Ballet was full of dark fairy tales The Turnout contains a lot of the things I've come to love about Abbott's books: dark gritty themes, beauty in the mundane, and the fine line between friendship and rivalry among women and girls. It's beautifully-written, making banalities seem dark and mysterious, with ballet - and, specifically, a performance of The Nutcracker - being the perfect setting for Abbott's twisted character dramas. The most surprising thing is that it took Abbott this long to ta Ballet was full of dark fairy tales The Turnout contains a lot of the things I've come to love about Abbott's books: dark gritty themes, beauty in the mundane, and the fine line between friendship and rivalry among women and girls. It's beautifully-written, making banalities seem dark and mysterious, with ballet - and, specifically, a performance of The Nutcracker - being the perfect setting for Abbott's twisted character dramas. The most surprising thing is that it took Abbott this long to take on the viciously competitive, notoriously unforgiving, world of ballet. The world of: throbbing feet, the blistered blood, the smell everywhere of bandages, rot. But I did give it the lowest rating I've given an Abbott book so far and I'd like to explain why. I will admit upfront that it may just be me, that I am so used to her style at this point that it doesn't quite hit like it used to. Parts felt forced, the flowery language spilling over into melodrama. I also found my lip literally curling in disgust at times as I was reading this book. I know the author likes to be gritty and weird but I was honestly uncomfortable when the third person limited perspective-- that of the adult Dara --constantly noted young boys' "fleeting boy shame" (i.e. erections in their leotards) and the young girls' camel toes in theirs. I could not understand why we were lingering on these details, but I assume the author thought it was edgy? Still, Abbott kept my attention right until the end and managed to pull out a few surprises along the way. She certainly knows how to craft a tense scene with sharp dialogue, which is one of many reasons I know I'll be back for her future works. I also loved the running metaphor throughout of things that look shiny, happy and beautiful, but have huge cracks beneath the surface.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Oh... my... good...ness.... what...the...heck... I...just...read! I like to start with my confessions: the book started a little slow for me and the quirkiness, weirdness, whothehellarethesepeopleness and whatswrongwiththemness levels of the book way too much high for me! But I have to admit: I was intrigued. Any kind of craziness, abnormalities drag me to any story like a moth to a flame! So I kept reading. Sisters Dara, Marie and Dara’s husband Charlie were the last ones standing to rekindle Oh... my... good...ness.... what...the...heck... I...just...read! I like to start with my confessions: the book started a little slow for me and the quirkiness, weirdness, whothehellarethesepeopleness and whatswrongwiththemness levels of the book way too much high for me! But I have to admit: I was intrigued. Any kind of craziness, abnormalities drag me to any story like a moth to a flame! So I kept reading. Sisters Dara, Marie and Dara’s husband Charlie were the last ones standing to rekindle their mother’s memory with the ballet school she’s founded in 1986. Durant School of Dance took up the top two floors of a squat, rusty brick office building downtown. The place became theirs after uneventful car accident took their parents’ lives. The family always considered as a little exotic for the townies. They called the gingerbread house they live as Gretel house. As you resume your reading, you may understood the tragedies the place keeps as secret and dysfunctional relationship patterns of the Durant family may be frightened us more than Grimm Brothers’ gory, dark, jaw dropping stories. The girls were born to be dancers, educated as dancers with their mother’s pressure and Charlie became a part of their family as prodigy student after their mother takes him under her wing at his teenage years to live with them without listening their father’s objections. As their parents die, Charlie’s dance life ends with a terribly injury, they make changes in their lives without leaving the place. Dara and Charlie get marry and both of the girls become ballet instructors for enthusiasts, ambitious kids and teenagers, helping them become great ballerinas, giving hope their families who procrastinated their own dancing dreams. Six days a week more than a past dozen years, the girls kept teaching in the cramped, cozy finds of the same ashen building where their mother once reigned. The girls are polar opposites. As Marie is light, cheerful, fair,hot blooded, entertaining, Dara is dark, restrict, disciplined, stood queen like, jutting like a wolf’s. Marie teaches the younger students as Dara works with the older ones. Now the Nutcracker season is approaching ( eight weeks of nightmare including auditions, class rehearsals, costume fittings, final dress rehearsals) Both girls concentrate on the auditions as Charlie works on administration part. Marie’s decision to move from their house to live in the school is the beginning of the chaotic events. And old heater once their father’s used at their basement started the fire. Now the place needs urgent renovation during the rehearsal progress. Charlie suggests to work with Derek and his team who are really popular around the area. Dara is reluctant because she never wants to change her normal routine as strangers lurking around, making extreme sounds at the old building to break the concentration of the dancers. And worst part is Marie seems like having an obsession with Derek which could change the whole family’s relationship dynamics. I’m stopping right here. But I’m telling you when you reach the last fifty pages of the book, you feel like somebody keeps sucker punching you. The author will start dropping bombs at you so fast. You will get shock. Your reality will get distorted! It’s good! It’s sad! It’s depressing! It’s soooo dark! Overall: creepy, eerie, claustrophobic, slow burn, sad, perfectly written! You know what they say: “when something goes in a family, it takes generations to wipe it out.” Special thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP PUTNAM/ G. P. Putnam’s Sons for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!! this is a story about a prestigious family-owned ballet school in the run-up to their big holiday season production of The Nutcracker; the atmosphere crackling with the energy of anxious parents and tiny dancers; hope, excitement, and disappointment mingling in the air. but this is megan abbott, so it's gonna dig deep under that banal sugarplum premise to unearth the gothic drama lurking just beneath the festive girl-glitter, removing the pretty pink toe shoes to expose the mangle NOW AVAILABLE!!! this is a story about a prestigious family-owned ballet school in the run-up to their big holiday season production of The Nutcracker; the atmosphere crackling with the energy of anxious parents and tiny dancers; hope, excitement, and disappointment mingling in the air. but this is megan abbott, so it's gonna dig deep under that banal sugarplum premise to unearth the gothic drama lurking just beneath the festive girl-glitter, removing the pretty pink toe shoes to expose the mangled dancer's feet within—blackened toenails sprinkling off, reminding you, as she always does, how beautiful things could be all broken inside. ballet is the logical next-step in abbott's progression of novels spotlighting the gritty underbelly of ostensibly pretty, "girly" pursuits (cheerleading in Dare Me, gymnastics in You Will Know Me); the brute physicality and athleticism required to compete at the highest levels of these largely female-dominated spheres, and the psychological fortitude; the drive and ambition, the sheer willpower and sacrifice it takes to succeed. ballet illustrates all of this perfectly in its juxtaposition of fragility and power—physically demanding, dancers achieving strength and flexibility by breaking and reshaping their bodies, the sheer amount of pain that goes into creating the illusion of lightness, effortlessness, in a performance. We have a different relationship to pain, their mother used to say. It's our friend, our lover. When you wake up and the pain is gone, do you know what that means? What, they'd ask every time. You're no longer a dancer. megan abbott is the absolute queen when it comes to panning all the dark bits out of the sugar and spice of the adolescent female experience; ambition, rage, desire, obsession, the space where childhood loyalty gives way to self-interest, and most especially, the power of young bodies—the exhilarated flush of training, of winning, the freedom and power in the strength of their limbs, the invigorating discovery of their sexual currency, her characters a-quiver with invincibility and the possibilities of life before them. although the bodies in this one are grown, the characters have lived so narrowly that they are emotional adolescents in many ways, and as ballet teachers, they are surrounded wall-to-wall by young bodies, the book claustrophobic with 'em: stretching, posing, arching, aching, yearning. it's sweat and effort and pushing beyond limits, and it is her most frankly erotic work thus far. even when it's not explicitly about sex, it's using the language of sex to create this kinda sensual fog that permeates everything: Long summer nights, the click of the beetles, the soft grind of the cicadas, all those crickets rubbing their legs together, the low moan of the mosquitoes at the screen. yeah, megan abbott just made bugs sexy, and the eroticism jamboree doesn’t stop at the wanton moaning of insects, flip to any page and there’ll be a passage like that; something oblique or overt making it very warm in here, indeed. let’s try it! The Fire Eater, the Sword Swallower. They were both women, dark and fair and fearless, their heads pitched back, their mouths wide open, everything laid bare. They could take these things inside them and emerge unscathed. Dangerous things, deadly things. They could take these things inside and remain untouched, immaculate. The same forever. Forever the same. you can play this game yourselves at home, very soon. plotstuff: sisters dara and marie durant were raised in a ballet-bubble, indifferently homeschooled by their dancer-mother while their father worked long stretches away from home, his occasional presence in their realm almost an intrusion: Every evening when he wasn't traveling, he'd come home from work and navigate stacks of pointe shoes, towers of them in the corners, tights hanging on doorknobs. Music, forever, from the old stereo console, from the turntable upstairs. The sound, forever, of the barre squeaking, Dara's or Marie's eager hands on it, their mother's voice intoning, Lift through the leg! Turn that foot out! Their house was all ballet, all the time. their childhood was sheltered and friendless, with nothing but dance and each other, but they were happy in their female cave, wearing leotards all day and dancing until their feet went numb, learning lessons about life and love and dance from their glamorous-feline mother. the female-energy-dominated sphere changed when the girls were teenagers and their mother's star pupil charlie moved in with them. their bubble expanded to absorb him; a boy, but still a lithe-bodied member of their tribe, training all day together, the foursome piling into their mother's bed at night to watch performances; inseparable, the boundaries between them blurred, and soon dara and charlie begin sleeping together. abbot's depiction of the highly-charged atmosphere within their "Hansel and Gretel house" with its "rotting gingerbread trim" is *chef's kiss* perfection. even before charlie's arrival, their lives were characterized by a careless, nearly claustrophobic intimacy—growing up on top of each other, always half-undressed, sweating their leotards sheer, their days spent focused on their bodies—legs, hips, posture, and the pleasurable pain of delicate things tearing—a hothouse of sensuality where the girls discovered the secret pleasures of their bodies separated only by the partition between their bunk bed, casual and even somewhat competitive about masturbation and their orgasms, dara having sex with charlie while marie lay awake above them; the whole house a warm pink erotically-charged dynamic bonding them together. the three became inseparable, and after the girls' parents are killed in a car accident, charlie and dara get married and the three of them continue to live together in their childhood home, running their mother's studio. marie, the younger, softer sister instructing the beginners, while dara whips the older ones into hardcore dancers, and charlie, his body broken after a years of injuries and surgeries, manages the business side of things and everything continues as it always has. It was the three of them. Always the three of them. Until it wasn't. And that was when everything went wrong. Starting with the fire. Or before. the fire (which, i know i've been going on and on with too many words and blah, but most of this is backstory and the fire takes place on page 29, so we're not even close to spoilertown) destroys a portion of the already-rickety studio, but the bigger consequence is that it brings derek into their lives; the swaggering contractor and unlikely suitor who nevertheless becomes marie's lover. dara can't understand why delicate marie is drawn to this man; so loud and blunt and emphatically masculine as he invades their space; the wolfish, brute sexuality of him leaving marks on marie's skin. his arrival is the catalyst that challenges their whole small stunted world. it's slow-burning sinister; a gothic suburban drama—grey gardens with a splash of vc andrews—featuring insular and codependent characters drifting between a crumbling house and a crumbling studio, bloody toe shoes strewn about; a story of submission and power, obsession and mental fragility, everything obscured by smoke and family secrets...it's so very deliciously megan abbott and soon it can will be yours. **************************************** me getting my hands on this ARC is the best thing about 2021 so far. review to come... come to my blog!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    Dara and Marie are running their mother's dance studio along with Charlie, Dara's husband and former dance student. The three of them grew up together and have an incredible bond. But then Derek arrives, a contractor, working on the ballet studio. Will he upset the delicate balance of this family? What are Derek's aims? This was my first Megan Abbott book, and she definitely did not disappoint. This book was a page-turning thriller which constantly made me wonder how it was going to all turn out. Dara and Marie are running their mother's dance studio along with Charlie, Dara's husband and former dance student. The three of them grew up together and have an incredible bond. But then Derek arrives, a contractor, working on the ballet studio. Will he upset the delicate balance of this family? What are Derek's aims? This was my first Megan Abbott book, and she definitely did not disappoint. This book was a page-turning thriller which constantly made me wonder how it was going to all turn out. Even when I tried to think of all of the outcomes, Ms. Abbott got the better of me. This book had a bunch of unexpected twists, and it also had some really deep moments too. They weren't spelled out for you so it really did feel like reading a work of art. The book is told in short sections which was a format that really worked for this book. The prose was also very thoughtful and well-developed. The audiobook of The Turnout was also incredible. The accent of the mother and all of the voices of the different characters led to an enthralling performance. Overall, this book was phenomenal, and I look forward to reading it again. Thanks for the free/gifted book @PutnamBooks! *Note: If you follow me on Booktube, y'all know that I am a BIG fan of immersion reading (listening to the audiobook while following along in a printed copy). For this book, immersion reading was the technique that I utilized. I purchased my own audiobook.

  5. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    DNF @30% I love Megan Abbot but this book is just too strange for me. I felt gross just reading it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Dara and Marie are sisters that run The Durant School of Dance for up and coming ballet dancers. Their mother was once a famous ballet dancer and had own and run the school through out the girls childhood. Dara's husband Charlie also helps on the business end having been a student of Madam Durant's himself as a child. He was even taken in by the family to live when they were teens. The Nutcracker performance is coming up and tensions are running high when a fire destroys part of their studio. On Dara and Marie are sisters that run The Durant School of Dance for up and coming ballet dancers. Their mother was once a famous ballet dancer and had own and run the school through out the girls childhood. Dara's husband Charlie also helps on the business end having been a student of Madam Durant's himself as a child. He was even taken in by the family to live when they were teens. The Nutcracker performance is coming up and tensions are running high when a fire destroys part of their studio. Once their contractor Derek, recommended to them by a students mother, is brought into the mix things become increasingly murky. It seems Derek has an agenda of some sort but what exactly it is no one is sure. Dara senses that his intentions aren't simply to fix the studio. His sneers and leers and inappropriate comments continue to shake Dara to her core however Marie seems to have fallen into some lust fueled fantasy where Derek is the star. The fact that Derek has such a hold over Marie puts great strain on their sisterly bond threatening everything they hold dear including secrets that they would rather not see the light of day. In typical Megan Abbott fashion her writing is razor sharp and laced with dread. The whole time that you are reading this you know something is "off" but you can't quite put your finger on what it is which makes for some fine page turning. I absolutely loved reading about the ballet dancers and what they go through. The cut throat atmosphere that would crush even the toughest of people. I don't think ballet dancers get enough credit for the amount of work, tears, and pain these people put themselves through. Ever google images of a ballet dancers feet? To dance on pointe is just not natural but these dedicated artists still twirl and jump with grace and elegance all the while their toes are breaking and fracturing, blackened toe nails that fall off once the slipper is removed, corns and bunions that ache to even look at. Ballet is not for the fainthearted but this book is for everyone that wants take a peak behind the curtain. So well done! 4 stars! Thank you to Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam's Sons for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    To the untrained eye watching a ballet dancer, turnout appears to be happening from the feet. In actuality it comes from small muscles located in the hip socket which rotate the entire leg outward. You must find, feel and engage those muscles in order for turnout to occur. To do that you must possess a strong core as well as body awareness. Turnout is essential for mobility, stability, and extension. 180 degrees is considered perfect turnout. Ballet is brutal. Ballet is painful. Ballet is unnatu To the untrained eye watching a ballet dancer, turnout appears to be happening from the feet. In actuality it comes from small muscles located in the hip socket which rotate the entire leg outward. You must find, feel and engage those muscles in order for turnout to occur. To do that you must possess a strong core as well as body awareness. Turnout is essential for mobility, stability, and extension. 180 degrees is considered perfect turnout. Ballet is brutal. Ballet is painful. Ballet is unnatural. The Turnout really isn’t a book about ballet itself. Consider the illusions ballets present and most of all consider the mechanics of turnout as you read this novel. It is ominous, menacing and dark.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Ok, Megan Abbott just ruined The Nutcracker Ballet for me. Furthermore, I’ll be gazing at ballet troupes in a whole different light. I jest…sort of. “The Turnout” is Abbott’s 10th novel. It involves a ballet school, 3 professional dancers, a decaying ballet studio, a dubious master carpenter, and a shady family history. Oh, and lust…lots of lust. Abbott uses ballet imagery alluding to sex. For Abbott, ballet in it’s intimacy, it’s sensual movements, it all suggests sex. The story is told from one Ok, Megan Abbott just ruined The Nutcracker Ballet for me. Furthermore, I’ll be gazing at ballet troupes in a whole different light. I jest…sort of. “The Turnout” is Abbott’s 10th novel. It involves a ballet school, 3 professional dancers, a decaying ballet studio, a dubious master carpenter, and a shady family history. Oh, and lust…lots of lust. Abbott uses ballet imagery alluding to sex. For Abbott, ballet in it’s intimacy, it’s sensual movements, it all suggests sex. The story is told from one of the sister’s (Dara) perspective. Dara and her younger sister Marie were orphaned in their teens when their parents were involved in a suspicious car wreck. The marriage was fraught with violence and anger. Their mother was a professional ballerina and owned a ballet school for young children. After their mother’s death, the girls continued the school. Living with them at the time was a boy, Charlie, who their mother “adopted” and lived with them. Charlie was also a dancer and one of the lead dancers in the Nutcracker annual performance. He, along with the sisters, manage the dance studio. Charlie has severe physical damage due to his dancing career, so he doesn’t dance. He takes care of the business end of the school. When the story begins, the three are in their 30’s. Marie decides to move out of their home and move into the dance studio building. She inadvertently starts a fire and burns down a main dance floor right before the annual Nutcracker production. They need to get the building fixed ASAP. Enter the dubious carpenter. He sells the three on upgrading their building making the dance school bigger and better. From the start, the reader knows this guy is trouble….and he is. The contractor seduces Marie and it’s very very disturbing and creepy. This is not for the faint of heart. As Marie and the contractor carry-on, so does the Nutcracker performance. We learn through Dara all that is involved in the performance, from the need of snow…so much snow….to the dancer jealousy of who is picked to dance as Clara to who has minor rolls. Ballerinas are competitive and mean. I hope Abbott isn’t writing from experience. Girls put needles and blades in dance shoes. The cruelty amongst dancers is unsettling. The atmosphere of the story is dark, noir style. During the renovations, there is a suspicious accident. Revelations come through about the sister’s history and Charlie’s part in their lives. This is a very slow burn of a suspense story. As it begins, the story builds up tension with the sexual undertones of ballet. Next is the disquieting presence of the contractor who Abbott wrote perfectly as a slimy swine of a man. What is his end game? What is he doing to Marie? How can they get rid of him? Finally, a tragic accident forces the three to examine their history and their present. At the end, there is a plot twist that I didn’t see coming. That made the story good for me. Prior to that, I am unnerved and uneasy from the story…but isn’t that what every author wants? To write a memorable story? Thus, this is difficult for me to rate. I shall remember this story. It has impacted me (not in a great way). The story is disturbing which is something I don’t readily recommend. But it’s very engrossing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    If there’s anything that’s obvious from the range of reviews she’s garnered on this site, it’s that Megan Abbott’s books are not for everyone. Many of her characters are ‘unlikeable’ women, and the plot feels like it’s moving slowly until it suddenly isn’t. The Turnout is no exception. Marie and Dara are sisters in the only way that they know how to be. They hold each others’ secrets close even when keeping one another at arm’s-length. From their childhood growing up under the exacting eye of the If there’s anything that’s obvious from the range of reviews she’s garnered on this site, it’s that Megan Abbott’s books are not for everyone. Many of her characters are ‘unlikeable’ women, and the plot feels like it’s moving slowly until it suddenly isn’t. The Turnout is no exception. Marie and Dara are sisters in the only way that they know how to be. They hold each others’ secrets close even when keeping one another at arm’s-length. From their childhood growing up under the exacting eye of their mother to eventually taking over her place as the owners and instructors at Durant School of Dance, they have always moved through the world together. Even after Dara married their mother’s former student, Charlie, and Marie moved out of their childhood home into the space above their studio, there’s nothing that can sever the connection between the two women. Until they unwittingly let someone in. Eventually cracks begin to appear in the foundation of their relationship, or maybe they’ve only begun to notice what’s always been there. As the entire company moves forward with preparations for their annual Nutcracker performances, tensions run high and some are bound to buckle under the pressure of it all. One thing you can always count on from Megan Abbott is complicated relationships between women. And shifting power dynamics prevent you from ever feeling like you have a handle on the characters’ true motivations. Is Dara the one in control? Or is Marie secretly the one pulling the strings? How much influence do they really have over one another? Dara certainly seems like she has more of a handle on her life than Marie does. But a cutting remark here, a cruel jab there, is it any wonder by the time she’s reached adulthood Marie’s in possession of such a battered and bruised ego? Truthfully, this was a pretty stressful reading experience. The book only gets more and more ominous as time goes on, to the point where even in the last dozen or so pages Abbott was still peeling back the layers of pain in her characters. There’s a grittiness to her storytelling that makes every smell, sound and taste that much more visceral to experience as a reader. And like some of her previous books such as Dare Me and You Will Know Me, The Turnout explores adolescent athletes that have complex relationships with the adults around them. These years are some of the most formative in their lives, and there are adults who will attempt to take advantage of that vulnerability. (this is your trigger warning for potential abuse) That said, I can’t say I didn’t get completely sucked in by this book. I’m still mulling over some questions I had while reading. Do Dara and Marie have shared memories or is it repressed trauma? How much of our history are we forced to carry around for the rest of our lives? When I finish a book by Abbott, I know it’s going to linger on me for some time after. **For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!

  10. 5 out of 5

    L.A.

    This has more than a twist....it is TWISTED!!! Alarming, Distressing, Disgusting, Disturbing and uncomfortable! If you are disturbed by child and adult inappropriate activity, than don't read it. As one of the great book reviewers, Javier says "Feeling uncomfortable and dirty while reading". You can find his review here. It is a shame some of the scenes could have been left out. If it had, then you would have found an unbelievable, excruciating talent of professional dancers preparing children f This has more than a twist....it is TWISTED!!! Alarming, Distressing, Disgusting, Disturbing and uncomfortable! If you are disturbed by child and adult inappropriate activity, than don't read it. As one of the great book reviewers, Javier says "Feeling uncomfortable and dirty while reading". You can find his review here. It is a shame some of the scenes could have been left out. If it had, then you would have found an unbelievable, excruciating talent of professional dancers preparing children for the upcoming holiday ballet "Nutcracker" by a family-run ballet studio. Excellent writing skills that had me finishing the book when I didn't have to. I wanted to see the finishing act! What an act! I can see why so many chose a higher review and looked past the 🤦 because it has an all around book award potential...just not for me. Thank you NetGalley and G.P. Putnam's sons for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    I received a free advance copy from NetGalley for review. The thing about Megan Abbott that continues to amaze me even after reading a bunch of her books is how she can get me interested in things I would have said wouldn’t hold my attention at all like cheerleading and gymnastics. Now she’s set a story around a ballet school and once again, I was riveted. Dara and Marie Durant weren’t raised like most kids. Home schooled by their mother who was a ballet instructor the girls were pretty much raise I received a free advance copy from NetGalley for review. The thing about Megan Abbott that continues to amaze me even after reading a bunch of her books is how she can get me interested in things I would have said wouldn’t hold my attention at all like cheerleading and gymnastics. Now she’s set a story around a ballet school and once again, I was riveted. Dara and Marie Durant weren’t raised like most kids. Home schooled by their mother who was a ballet instructor the girls were pretty much raised to dance, and once their parents died in a car crash they took over their mother’s school. Dara married her mother’s best student Charlie, who can no longer dance due to injuries, and the three of them live together in their childhood home. However, when Marie moves out of the house, and then a new person enters the school in the form of a manly-man contractor named Derek it seems like changes are going to happen whether Dara wants them to or not. Ms. Abbott does characters with complex relationships extremely well, and she might have done some of her best work yet with the Durant sisters. The most intriguing about them to me was how they’ve been in stasis for their adult lives. It goes beyond just living in their old house and running the school their mother started because they haven’t changed or upgraded anything since, and Dara in particular seems determined to preserve that status quo, as if every aspect of her family history was worthy of being in a museum. When Marie starts to rebel against this situation, Dara takes it as Marie trying to abandon both her and their mother’s legacy. In fact, if this story was a little more quirky and less dark, it sounds like the set up to a Wes Anderson movie with an eccentric family stuck in the past and having issues dealing with the future. However, since it’s a Mighty Megan Abbott production things take a turn with some old secrets being revealed and some new secrets created. The question becomes if Dara and Marie can ever get back to their old routine. And even if they could, should they? All around great family drama with some crime elements that also drops in a lot of detail about a ballet school from the best way to break in a pair of ballet shoes to how awful the students can be to someone who gets a lead role in the school’s annual production of The Nutcracker.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Blaine

    No one wanted to face the truth. That every family was a hothouse, a swamp. Its own atmosphere, its own rules. Its own laws and gods. There would never be any understanding from the outside. There couldn’t be.Megan Abbott has a very strange Goodreads author page. She’s an award-winning writer of psychological thrillers. Her books have over 160,000 ratings. So she’s popular, right? Not exactly. Somehow, her books are weirdly unpopular, garnering a staggeringly low 3.39 overall rating. But I reall No one wanted to face the truth. That every family was a hothouse, a swamp. Its own atmosphere, its own rules. Its own laws and gods. There would never be any understanding from the outside. There couldn’t be.Megan Abbott has a very strange Goodreads author page. She’s an award-winning writer of psychological thrillers. Her books have over 160,000 ratings. So she’s popular, right? Not exactly. Somehow, her books are weirdly unpopular, garnering a staggeringly low 3.39 overall rating. But I really enjoyed the one book of hers that I previously read, You Will Know Me, so I went into The Turnout expecting to once again go against the grain and enjoy a lowly rated book. Instead, I got what Pieter Krämer in Pitch Perfect 2 would call a “heated mess. You know, a mess where heat is applied to it so what once was a little messy is now even messier.” Yeah, that. There are four main characters here. Dara is the one whose perspective the story is told from, though not in the first-person. She and her sister Marie, both former ballerinas, teach ballet at the Durant School of Dance, which was once operated by their mother. Dara’s husband Charlie, an injured former ballet performer, helps run the business side of the school. When Marie accidentally causes a small fire in one of the studios with a space heater, they decide to hire a contractor, Derek, to renovate the school even though they are in the middle of their busiest season as they are starting rehearsals for their yearly performances of The Nutcracker. But when Derek begins a relationship with Marie, it brings to the surface unspoken—maybe even unrealized—tensions between Dara, Marie, and Charlie. It’s a promising idea, but it did not work here at all. First and foremost, Dara, Marie, and Charlie were such deeply unlikeable characters, who made such obviously unwise choices, that I just did not care that things were unraveling for them. When you finally learn their full backstory, it’s hard to understand how they had ever stayed together in the first place. The story is oddly sexual, but not for any clear reason, and icky rather than titillating. And while I’m sure Ms. Abbott made a deliberate choice to focus on the adults and not on the children in this novel, I was more interested in the little bits we learned every so often about what was happening to the kids playing Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. All of which brings us to Derek, or as Goodreads calls him, “an interloper who arrives to bring down the carefully crafted Eden-like facade.” I mean, that’s not wrong, but here’s how one character describes him:He became not so much a person as this collection of bad things men do. He never seemed real, exactly. He seemed like a cartoon villain, a comic book lothario, a cheap paperback brute, a thug.You’d expect, after a description like that, to have some contradiction that no, no, he was really more complex or human than he seemed. But that rebuttal never comes here. Derek is a grotesque, cartoonish, devil-like character, who’s so over-the-top eeeeevil that it is impossible to believe his purported abilities to manipulate people. All of that said, there were some things in The Turnout that I enjoyed. The novel is very atmospheric. It really sets the scene of what it’s like inside a ballet studio, and yet it also worked symbolically as depicting the rot in the Durant family. The book paints a convincing portrait of the constant juxtaposition between the beauty of the ballet and the ugliness of what it takes to perform, the damage it does to the dancer’s feet and body. These things, and the quality of the writing, rescued The Turnout from the dreaded 1 star rating. But if you’re looking to read a Megan Abbott novel, I’d steer clear of this one and pick up You Will Know Me instead.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Hager

    As a profound lover of mysteries, I cannot tell you how excited I am to announce my first Read With Jenna book club pick in this genre. As a kid, I loved to stay up late during the summer reading mystery novels with a flashlight. As I used the light on my phone to finish Megan Abbott’s, “The Turnout,” I was taken right back to the summer nights of my youth. “The Turnout” is about two ballerina sisters, Dara and Marie Durant. After losing their unhappy parents in a tragic accident, the siblings, As a profound lover of mysteries, I cannot tell you how excited I am to announce my first Read With Jenna book club pick in this genre. As a kid, I loved to stay up late during the summer reading mystery novels with a flashlight. As I used the light on my phone to finish Megan Abbott’s, “The Turnout,” I was taken right back to the summer nights of my youth. “The Turnout” is about two ballerina sisters, Dara and Marie Durant. After losing their unhappy parents in a tragic accident, the siblings, along with Dara’s husband, Charlie, inherit and run their mother’s dance studio. Just before the annual Nutcracker, an accident in the studio introduces a new character, a contractor named Derek. As Derek becomes a point of sexual fixation for Marie and convinces the trio to undertake a lofty renovation, the delicate balance of the trio's relationships comes under threat. I love how Megan Abbott looks at the darker sides of things that we all remember, such as ballet classes as children. She examines the relationship between Dara and Marie and the past that connects them while exploring themes of siblinghood, how our past predicts our future and the darker side of ballet. Abbott writes mysteries that are both literary and compelling, something I’m always searching for in the genre. I have been a fan of her work for many years so I am very excited to be reading her next book along with our club members. I hope you will all join me in reading “The Turnout” by Megan Abbott during the month of August. Exploring this genre with our club is long overdue.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    A new Megan Abbott book? Hell to the YESSSSS!!!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Max

    The Turnout is the most recent slow-burn thriller from Megan Abbott with a unique writing style that I could never fully wrap my head around. Dark settings, few characters, short segments, long descriptions, and a very prominent sense of dread are the words I can use to quickly sum up the feel of this book. If you're already acquainted and enjoyed Abbott's previous novels, this will feel like a familiar return. I was definitely expecting a book like Suspiria, but I think it's easier to compare th The Turnout is the most recent slow-burn thriller from Megan Abbott with a unique writing style that I could never fully wrap my head around. Dark settings, few characters, short segments, long descriptions, and a very prominent sense of dread are the words I can use to quickly sum up the feel of this book. If you're already acquainted and enjoyed Abbott's previous novels, this will feel like a familiar return. I was definitely expecting a book like Suspiria, but I think it's easier to compare this to Black Swan. Every time I ever watch or read something about ballet, it always has such a dark and depressing tone for something I'd initially imagine would be a pretty glamorous lifestyle. But of course, just like any sort of competitive sport or activity, we're always going to see cutthroat people. This novel was a bit more tedious for me to get through, I think I was a little bit impatient for a turning point in the story. But The Turnout will be great for previous readers of Megan Abbott with its ominous storytelling.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Dark, gothic, extremely uncomfortable and devastating. This book (like most of Abbott’s books) won’t be for everyone, but I sure was sucked in and spooked out. It probably helped me identify with the book that I have a ballet background — and I am sorry to tell you that every creepy thing in this book rings pretty true to that lifestyle — if not literally, then in theme. I remember one French teacher with a cane she liked rap both on the floor and on our legs when our extensions weren’t just rig Dark, gothic, extremely uncomfortable and devastating. This book (like most of Abbott’s books) won’t be for everyone, but I sure was sucked in and spooked out. It probably helped me identify with the book that I have a ballet background — and I am sorry to tell you that every creepy thing in this book rings pretty true to that lifestyle — if not literally, then in theme. I remember one French teacher with a cane she liked rap both on the floor and on our legs when our extensions weren’t just right. Anyway, this book perfectly captures the masochism, creepiness, abusiveness and also the morbid beauty of the ballet life on every single page. It also has a lot to say (both symbolically and less so) about the many ways women in our culture harm themselves for beauty and for men. It’s more than that though because there are also some pretty creepy women in this book. This book needs a trigger warning for basically everything, but expect a much more well-written Flowers in the Attic meets Black Swan. It’s better to go in somewhat blind but you should maybe just know it is about an extremely dysfunctional and creepy ballet family. I think it’s also important to say that this is a book that is clearly intended to make you uncomfortable and squeamish and just generally weirded-out. If you are a fan of Megan Abbott you already know she’s great at putting words to certain female emotions and experiences, and exaggerating them into twisted and fascinating plots that will make you uncomfortable with the way the world treats women. If you’re looking for a traditional thriller or mystery, this isn’t it, but if you’re looking for a beautifully and terribly written gothic tale that makes your skin crawl and entertains and fascinates you, then you must call on Megan Abbott and this book in particular. Oh, and. The third act of this ballet … um, I mean book (it’s perfectly written like a creepy ballet) is really, really something. 4.5 stars. Reader beware of darkness and beautiful but also trippy, shocking and creepy stuff ahead. Oh and Ms. Abbott, that title, tho. I see what you did there.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    You don't read a Megan Abbott novel, you dream it. Lyrical, dark, layered and exquisitely written THE TURNOUT is a crime thriller with a literary soul, as deep as it is beautiful, as engrossing as it is haunting. You don't read a Megan Abbott novel, you dream it. Lyrical, dark, layered and exquisitely written THE TURNOUT is a crime thriller with a literary soul, as deep as it is beautiful, as engrossing as it is haunting.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erin (from Long Island, NY)

    (3.5) To me this was more of an intense domestic drama or character study, than a typical thriller. There is an element of suspense throughout & just an overall creepy feeling.. but more in an atmospheric, deep dark family history kind of way. Did enough happen? Was the payoff worth all the (excellent) buildup? I’m not sure. But the writing itself is very well done- I’ve never been a dancer yet I was mesmerized by the extreme, almost gothic way she incorporated the ballet into the story (& the c (3.5) To me this was more of an intense domestic drama or character study, than a typical thriller. There is an element of suspense throughout & just an overall creepy feeling.. but more in an atmospheric, deep dark family history kind of way. Did enough happen? Was the payoff worth all the (excellent) buildup? I’m not sure. But the writing itself is very well done- I’ve never been a dancer yet I was mesmerized by the extreme, almost gothic way she incorporated the ballet into the story (& the characters lives.) This is my first by this author & im eager to pick up another.. I’m curious to see if she’s able to immerse us into other topics as completely as she did here with The Nutcracker.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    What in the name of all that's twisted and disturbing did I just read? This was a crazy, heavy read in every way, but I couldn't put it down. I loved Abbott's "You Will Know Me," which centers on the world of competitive gymnastics; and in this one, Abbott takes on competitive ballet. I'll admit, I'm not a huge ballet fan, and other than the Barbie movie version, I've never seen The Nutcracker; but after reading this book, I am rather disturbed given its dark meaning described by Abbott. That be What in the name of all that's twisted and disturbing did I just read? This was a crazy, heavy read in every way, but I couldn't put it down. I loved Abbott's "You Will Know Me," which centers on the world of competitive gymnastics; and in this one, Abbott takes on competitive ballet. I'll admit, I'm not a huge ballet fan, and other than the Barbie movie version, I've never seen The Nutcracker; but after reading this book, I am rather disturbed given its dark meaning described by Abbott. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book - the descriptions of what ballet dancers put their bodies (especially their feet!) through were brutal. I've also always had an impression that the world of ballet was an odd, dark, cultish place, and this book only affirmed those thoughts! Geesh. Sisters Dara and Marie Durant grew up in a household obsessed with ballet. Their parents ran a ballet school, and after their death, the sisters and Dara's husband, Charlie, take over the school. The three of them have lived together since they were teens, and they were all competitive ballet dancers. You know from the beginning though, that Marie has moved out of the family house and is now living on the third floor of the ballet school. Dara is not happy about Marie leaving them, but she grudgingly accepts it until one night when a fire in the school opens up Pandora's box, and their lives change forever when they hire a highly-recommended contractor named Derek to rebuild the studio. Marie and Derek begin a torrid affair, and the wheels start to fall off the entire operation, leading them all down a path of dark, life-changing events. The whole book takes place during Nutcracker season, which is crazy in and of itself. As rehearsals intensify, so does the truth about creepy family secrets. There is an intense incestuous vibe from page one, with undertones of obsession, control, and power. There are several unexpected twists and nothing is as it appears when it comes to who should be trusted. I can't say that I loved any of the characters or empathized with their actions, but it all fit the plot to a tee. Toward the end of the book, the bizarre family dynamics, the psychological nuances, and the surprising ending left me shaking my head in uncomfortable dread. There should definitely be trigger warnings though for physical/emotional abuse as well as inappropriate sexual activity between children and adults. While not my favorite Abbott read, it was still powerful in its own right. 4 slow-burn-not-for-the-faint-of-heart stars.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    This taut, atmospheric story is saturated with allusions and metaphors, thrumming with an uncomfortable wrongness, replete with missing puzzle pieces and an underlying feeling of tension and dread. My biggest issue was with the pacing...painfully slow for a very large portion of the book and then a busy, rushed finish. Had I not read Dark Horses this year, this one would likely have disturbed me more than it did. That said, it is dark, disturbing, and gross. 2.5 stars? This taut, atmospheric story is saturated with allusions and metaphors, thrumming with an uncomfortable wrongness, replete with missing puzzle pieces and an underlying feeling of tension and dread. My biggest issue was with the pacing...painfully slow for a very large portion of the book and then a busy, rushed finish. Had I not read Dark Horses this year, this one would likely have disturbed me more than it did. That said, it is dark, disturbing, and gross. 2.5 stars?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anastacia Reads Stuff

    I really really wanted to love this book as I am a huge fan of dance and of Megan Abbott but I didn't enjoy it. From the beginning you get the feeling that the family dynamic is uncomfortably off. That there is some sort of relationship going on between the sisters and the husband and the parents. The storyline though there is some mystery felt like it dragged on and on. The first half of the book was just uncomfortable descriptions of bloody dancer feet and bad smells and odd descriptions of a I really really wanted to love this book as I am a huge fan of dance and of Megan Abbott but I didn't enjoy it. From the beginning you get the feeling that the family dynamic is uncomfortably off. That there is some sort of relationship going on between the sisters and the husband and the parents. The storyline though there is some mystery felt like it dragged on and on. The first half of the book was just uncomfortable descriptions of bloody dancer feet and bad smells and odd descriptions of a sexual nature that seemed like they would never end. When the mystery did unfold itself it almost seemed out of place and rushed through. I wish I had better things to say but I just didn't enjoy it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    idiomatic

    the entire first maybe third? of the book is one long heavy panting breath, everything (every single goddamn inanimate object) is pink slit this engorged hammer penetrating flimsy drywall that. like, at a certain point, scene-in scene-out: to what end. after a certain point it starts giving frustrated high school virgin overcompensating in a creative writing elective. it's wild to see an author backslide on a craft level to this degree - the trick she pulled in dare me that felt so effortless at the entire first maybe third? of the book is one long heavy panting breath, everything (every single goddamn inanimate object) is pink slit this engorged hammer penetrating flimsy drywall that. like, at a certain point, scene-in scene-out: to what end. after a certain point it starts giving frustrated high school virgin overcompensating in a creative writing elective. it's wild to see an author backslide on a craft level to this degree - the trick she pulled in dare me that felt so effortless at the time (though tbh i can never remember the "plot" of dare me, just how totally willing she was to sink her teeth into the process of the girls destroying their bodies) has become more labored ever since, both by repetition (eventually she is going to run out of sexy destructive sports) and also because she's pulled back from where the action happens. this never really feels like a ballet book despite the fact that she's like THE NUTCRACKER FUCKS on every page, largely because the narrator is looking at the action from a distance - the ballet, the escalatingly vicious drama between the young ballerinas, the crime. she never gets to live in center of it. there's more main-cast drama about home insurance than there is about dance. there's hints of brutality off the page (the girls are over there doing awful things to each other, we briefly meet a femme fatale) and threats of it coming onto the page but she pulls her punches with her main cast and never lets them do anything really seamy or brutal, even really her villainous interloper. the BIG REVEAL being heavily-breathed about up and down the book is an itty-bitty scandalè of roughly crimson peak tier. like ooooo sorry you're telling me the children of the big decaying house have a weird incest vibe?? noooooooooo waaaay jake surely not in MY chinatown the distance of the protagonist pov reminded me of the thing i hated about emma cline's the girls, if i may do un petit sideswipe: the protagonist looking back at the story and saying to the audience "obviously that was stupid to do, i would never do that now." cheap, lazy. obviously megan abbott does not pander to normies to this degree but she does read, book by book, as increasingly scared of herself. (to say nothing of her refusal to fully lesbian commit to the running lesbierotic bit. like megan... u good??) (view spoiler)[also, wack to play coy about a character being ? possibly intersex ? as a metaphor for how she's an unknowable unstable quirky freak! (hide spoiler)]

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    The synopsis sounds interesting, but overall I felt a distance with this book. I felt like I could never connect with the characters. I hoped that the slow burning build up would make up for it's extremely odd and slow storytelling, but it didn't. There is a dark overarching theme that will be uncomfortable for readers, but I just felt like it ended in a "that's it?!" kind of way. The synopsis sounds interesting, but overall I felt a distance with this book. I felt like I could never connect with the characters. I hoped that the slow burning build up would make up for it's extremely odd and slow storytelling, but it didn't. There is a dark overarching theme that will be uncomfortable for readers, but I just felt like it ended in a "that's it?!" kind of way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    Megan Abbott never writes a bad book. The only question is what flavor you'll get this time, it's like the world's best ice cream store. No bad choices. This novel felt, to me, like a bit of a throwback. The prose is dreamy and almost fairy-tale-like instead of the hyper-real style of her more thrilling thrillers. Like Abbott's best books it is at its heart about the danger of teenage girls, their burgeoning sexuality, the dark world they don't realize they are entering into, but it doesn't seem Megan Abbott never writes a bad book. The only question is what flavor you'll get this time, it's like the world's best ice cream store. No bad choices. This novel felt, to me, like a bit of a throwback. The prose is dreamy and almost fairy-tale-like instead of the hyper-real style of her more thrilling thrillers. Like Abbott's best books it is at its heart about the danger of teenage girls, their burgeoning sexuality, the dark world they don't realize they are entering into, but it doesn't seem like it at first. Our protagonist, Dara, is in her thirties, but of course it will turn out that underneath Dara has never really escaped the demons from when she was 15 or so. This is a ballet book, which I know is a subgenre with many fans, and they will not be disappointed. Abbott gets it, and she is always so good as writing about girls and bodies that she brings a level of technical perfection to it that I don't know if I've seen before. She sees the mangled feet, the pain as necessity, the competitiveness, the struggle for perfection, perhaps the only part of the subgenre we skip over is the disordered eating, which is honestly fine with me. At the center of this book is the preparation for a production of The Nutcracker, and if you know that ballet at all you know there are some really dark sexual undertones to it and Abbott is going to absolutely make the most of that. Dara and her sister Marie run a ballet school. They inherited it from their mother, who brought them up dancing and mostly isolated from the rest of the world. Their very small world is just the school and Dara's husband Charlie, who is also an extension of their mother and that small world, their mother took him in as a teenager. Dara and Marie are doubles but also opposites, Dara has found a kind of contentment and she is frustrated by Marie's occasional halfhearted attempts to buck against their world. Their delicate balance is upended by an accidental fire and the very necessary repairs that bring Derek into their lives. Derek is a contractor, big and gruff and loud, a beacon of chaotic masculinity in their disciplined feminine space. It is clear that this is not going to end well, but Abbott is going to milk this slow burn for a very, very long time. And that is just fine by me. The last third of the book has all kinds of payoffs, as the world we thought we knew reveals itself to be another one entirely. I want to talk about the content warnings here a bit. Note there are content warnings here around teenagers having sex, both with other teens and adults, where it's not always exactly clear what's happening, but it's on the page and some could certainly be construed as rape. (I read it that way.) It does not involve older men and teen girls, so there aren't all the associations with misogynistic violence these stories can so often invoke, but in a way that also means we see it as not so bad, which it obviously still is. Abbott initially gives us a limited view of this (for very valid plot and character reasons) and gives us more info as reveals. I think she handles it really well, but if this is a tough area for you it may be better to steer clear as I know reveals around tough issues can be harder. A couple additional content warnings after a spoiler tag just because they're pretty specific: (view spoiler)[ Warnings in particular for incest and a parent or parental figure grooming and coercing sex. These are described on page without the coercion at first due to a character's reactions to the trauma through denial. (hide spoiler)] And finally, warnings around parental neglect, alcoholism, rough sex, drunk driving, adultery.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Everyone remembers that feeling, Dara thought. The tortuous waiting of childhood. Waiting for parents, forever, waiting while adults do their adult things. Wanting to understand, the doors always closed. Until the adults finally decide to open them and then there's no shutting the door again. Not quite as gripping as some of Abbott's earlier books as this seems to meander quite a lot at the start and then hits us with a flurry of revelations in the home run. But powerful in parts, especially Everyone remembers that feeling, Dara thought. The tortuous waiting of childhood. Waiting for parents, forever, waiting while adults do their adult things. Wanting to understand, the doors always closed. Until the adults finally decide to open them and then there's no shutting the door again. Not quite as gripping as some of Abbott's earlier books as this seems to meander quite a lot at the start and then hits us with a flurry of revelations in the home run. But powerful in parts, especially on the relationships of girls with their bodies, the complicated connections between pain and pleasure, power and sex, and the insidious presence of the unseen but not forgotten. Set against the backdrop of a ballet school, The Nutcracker is an interesting paratext for this story (and nice not to have Swan Lake as the ballet story), but the dark version from Hoffmann's Nutcracker and Mouse King with its disturbing account of girlhood, nascent sexuality, and loss. Thanks to Virago for an ARC via NetGalley

  26. 5 out of 5

    Javier

    Review published in: https://diagnosisbookaholic.blogspot.... Talk about huge disappointment! I had such high hopes in The Turnout. Look at that cover! It’s gorgeous! I had already read this year a book set in the ballet world but I was left wanting more and this looked just what I needed. It turned out it wasn’t. Have you ever felt uncomfortable and dirty while reading? I can’t exactly put my finger on what it was that made me distressed while reading this, but that’s exactly how I felt from page Review published in: https://diagnosisbookaholic.blogspot.... Talk about huge disappointment! I had such high hopes in The Turnout. Look at that cover! It’s gorgeous! I had already read this year a book set in the ballet world but I was left wanting more and this looked just what I needed. It turned out it wasn’t. Have you ever felt uncomfortable and dirty while reading? I can’t exactly put my finger on what it was that made me distressed while reading this, but that’s exactly how I felt from page one. I did not connect at all with the writing style. Lots of really short scenes ending abruptly, jumping from one to another that, although made of this a quick read (even then it took me 10 days to finish it), it left me with a feeling of lots of unfinished conversations. Every single character was weird and not in a good sense. It felt like there was no plot for most of the book, just the strange dynamics of sisters Dara and Marie between them and with Charlie, Dara’s husband and Derek, their contractor. Halfway through the story there was a turning point that promised a bit more excitement in the last third, but by then I was so fed up I found the resolution rushed and a bit out of left field. Towards the end certain aspect of the backstory was revealed and I gotta say I found it pretty disgusting and unnecessary. Uncomfortable, unsettling and disturbing dark read that sadly wasn’t what I was expecting. I guess I’ll have to keep looking for the ultimate ballet thriller. Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book UK, Virago for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ♥Milica♥

    It's rare that I feel completely seen in a book. Usually, the dance ones get a lot of things wrong, but this one? I just feel so exposed. Megan Abbot managed to capture the beautiful and the ugly and honestly, I like it. I like that I'm in this book. Still, The Turnout focuses more on strange family relationships and those just got more tangled as the book went on. I was not expecting everything that happened, and I think that part was the truly scary one, the contractor plot less so. At the begin It's rare that I feel completely seen in a book. Usually, the dance ones get a lot of things wrong, but this one? I just feel so exposed. Megan Abbot managed to capture the beautiful and the ugly and honestly, I like it. I like that I'm in this book. Still, The Turnout focuses more on strange family relationships and those just got more tangled as the book went on. I was not expecting everything that happened, and I think that part was the truly scary one, the contractor plot less so. At the beginning, there wasn't much dialogue coming from the two sisters, instead it was mostly descriptions. Based on those Marie became my favourite. That quickly changed with the arrival of the previously mentioned contractor. I didn't like who Marie became then, so I gravitated towards Dara (whose name means "gift" in my language). I dubbed her the sane one, and oh, how wrong I was. Charlie I didn't like, and with good reason!!! Was what he did near the end necessary? Yes. But that's about it. The rest of the time he was just there. The writing was beautiful, although graphic at times. The gruesomeness fit the story well. It was all the non-explicit, but sort of implied, sex scenes though, that I was on the fence about. I'm still not sure if certain things happened or didn't. Might be better not to know for sure. With that said, the book felt long. And I don't think it's due to me devouring it in a day, it's the vibes. The long feeling did have its benefits too. Since most of the story revolves around The Nutcracker and preparations for it, nothing felt rushed. It felt right. And the parallels gave me something to think about. I too, was enchanted by Drosselmeyer as a kid, and continue to be to this day. And...I never thought about it the way it's described here, but I suppose it makes sense. A lot of things do, really. See, Abbot has a way of bringing everything to life, much like Clara would her doll. I felt just about every emotion while reading because it was all described perfectly. So why not five stars? Well, the mystery element wasn't strong enough. That, and the sex, and the long feeling all wrapped together in a nice bow. So, four stars from me and my dancer feet ;) *Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    Review soon!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)

    QUICK TAKE: ugh, I loved this book. Megan Abbott just writes the most twisted, delicious novels featuring the most complex, dark and stormy female characters. While the plot here isn't anything out-of-the-box (sisters running a ballet school), I could not put this book down. I had a pit in my stomach the entire read in the best way possible and once again find myself worshipping at the altar of all things Megan Abbott. QUICK TAKE: ugh, I loved this book. Megan Abbott just writes the most twisted, delicious novels featuring the most complex, dark and stormy female characters. While the plot here isn't anything out-of-the-box (sisters running a ballet school), I could not put this book down. I had a pit in my stomach the entire read in the best way possible and once again find myself worshipping at the altar of all things Megan Abbott.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Dark, strange, sexual, taboo but a gripping, tense family drama.

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