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The Turnout

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Well, that was weird.....This book felt like a fever dream crossed with the movie Black Swan. Impulsive and dark, I had to keep reading to know what the heck was going on. I'm still a bit confused on what I read, but all I can say is this one is f'ed up......


The Turnout by Megan Abbott follows sisters, Marie and Dara, and Dara's husband, Charlie, as they run their late mother's ballet studio. The studio is gearing up for the annual holiday Nutcracker performance when a disaster strikes the studio. An interloper soon drives a wedge between these three and what unfolds can only be described as a dark, fever dream of weirdness.

Mel's Thoughts:

Like I said, I am not sure what I read and I am a loss for words. I feel like I need to take a scalding hot shower, don a communion gown and head to church to atone for all my sins. This is one of those books that will make you feel like the author took your skin and turned it inside out. The Turnout is like a weird mix of the movie Black Swan, with elements of Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, wrapped with a psychological thriller bow. It is clear from the beginning that something happened to Marie and Dara as children, but it is unclear what. This backstory plays into their tumultuous relationship with their childhood home, ballet studio, and the contractor they hire to fix their studio.

The Turnout is dark, compulsive, disciplined, rigid, uncomfortable, visceral, atmospheric, and did I mention dark? It's weird, twisty and gives a depiction of ballet that is far from the pink tutus most little girls dream of. For that, I liked it. I always like when a book keeps me reading to uncover what the F is going on. I will say, the ending was a bit meh for me. Maybe I built up the possibilities in my head of what was going on and was let down a bit. After finishing the last page, I did one of those moves where you turn the book around and double check that there isn't more left. I remember feeling a "that's it?" feeling. But hey, up until then, I couldn't put it down.

Whether you liked or hated this one, we can all agree that The Turnout is memorable.

Content/trigger warning: sexual abuse, gaslighting, domestic abuse


3.5 stars

Favorite Quotes:

"This was why you needed routine, rigidity, timeliness. One slip, a wrist turned too far, a pointe shoe sliding from a dancer's heel, a faulty space heater, and everything could change in an instant. Everything could fall apart."

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