Title: The Turnout
Author: Megan Abbott
Publication Date: 3rd August 2021
With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student. The three have perfected a dance 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 their delicate balance.
Ok, confession – I’m slightly ballet-obsessed! I danced ballet myself from age 3 through to age 16 and go to the theatre to see it any chance I get. I also love thrillers so a book that combines both these things is basically my ideal read, and The Turnout seriously delivered – I loved it. The story follows two sisters, Dara and Marie, who run their deceased mother’s ballet school along with Dara’s husband and their mother’s ballet protégé, Charlie. After an accident at the studio an outsider enters the insular world of Dara, Charlie and Marie and throws their lives and the running of their yearly Nutcracker production into chaos.
What I loved most about The Turnout is the atmosphere which feels like something between a dark fairytale and a ghost story. This is infinitely helped by the haunting and lyrical writing and the dark insidious tone which infuses the whole novel. The Turnout really is beautifully written, so elegant yet at the same time viscerally sensual in its descriptions and imagery. The story builds slowly, becoming more and more unnervingly tense until, like a ballet, it reaches its dramatic crescendo. There is something truly brutal about the beautiful and magical world of ballet and Abbott skewers that violence perfectly. Her characters are not particularly likeable but hold such a dark fascination that it’s impossible to look away. I genuinely could not put it down. Ominous, sensual, intense and stunning – The Turnout is definitely one of my favourite books of 2021.
I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.