Bestselling author Megan Abbott returns with a new mystery set inside a ballet studio run by sisters Marie and Dara, who inherited the business after their parents died unexpectedly. When fire damage to the studio brings a charismatic contractor in to fix the damage, Marie becomes smitten, threatening to upset the sisters' delicately balanced relationship and reveal old family secrets.
... [a] beautifully dark suspense novel ... The Turnout submerses readers in the obsessive, toxic world of competitive ballet. Abbott perfectly describes the unique smells and atmosphere of a dance studio: a mix of sweat, vomit and hormones ... Abbott layers dread and darkness...keeps the twists coming until the final pages. The Turnout is the kind of gripping, unnerving page turner we have come to expect from an author who does noir better than almost anyone.
Desire and ballet are entwined in a smoldering pas de deux throughout this tightly choreographed thriller ... Anyone who has ever attended a performance of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet will enjoy the myriad references to Dewdrops, Snowflakes, mice and toy soldiers as the novel whirls along ... Abbott’s interpretation of Clara/Marie as an adolescent riven by erotic awakenings is cleverly based on Hoffmann’s story ... At times, the plot’s inevitable murder, sexual intrigue and family secrets seem almost incidental to the auditions and rehearsals, the bickering dancers and complaining parents, the punishing toe shoes and pulled muscles. Though it’s soon apparent that The Turnout is as much about female rage, jealousy and sexual desire as it is a suspense novel set in a dance studio.
... dark and juicy and tinged with horror ... while indeed she works with mystery and suspense and draws on noir and Gothic tropes, her goal seems less to construct intricate, double-crossing plot problems than to explore the dark side of femininity. Her prose is often incantatory, her dialogue lightly stylized. Frequently her tone has a strong flavor, pungent and fermented ... a bit of gore, but its deepest preoccupation is with bodies and sex ... the novel is so relentlessly saturated with sexual imagery and innuendo that at times it can feel like too much ... I found myself wondering if a dancer reading The Turnout might be made to feel uncomfortable, even stripped of some dignity ... while the narration sometimes feels omniscient, the story is refracted through one particular lens: Dara’s. Her consciousness is given to the reader impressionistically ... The Turnout revels in its own bigness, its drama, its relish for cataclysmic passion and its appetite for the grotesque, but some of Abbott’s deftest work involves an underlying interplay between strength and fragility.