The Turnout

Photo of The Turnout by Megan Abbott, ARC paperback copy

The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Genres: Psychological Thriller

Book Review

Dara and Marie Durant are sisters whose entire lives have revolved around their mother’s ballet studio. Now their mother is gone, and the studio is theirs. Along with Dara’s husband Charlie, also a ballet dancer, the three form a tight, impenetrable group. But when a suspicious fire destroys one of their studios, an interloper arrives and threatens to destroy the precarious balance that the three have built.

I’ve always loved Megan Abbott’s style of writing. The way she draws you into the world of her characters, revealing seemingly insignificant details, well before revealing the true plot of the story. The Turnout is no different. You are introduced to the elusive Durant family, starting with Dara and Marie’s childhood, and how they came to be dancers as influenced by their enigmatic mother. It quietly focuses on the dynamics of their relationship with Charlie and their dance studio. 

The pace of The Turnout was definitely slow to start. Throughout the story, there were so many twists. It largely focuses on Dara’s point of view in the third person. As the story develops, you come to take a closer and closer look at the Durant family, their questionable dynamic, and the secrets that are revealed over the course of a few months and a lifetime. I couldn’t look away. I was drawn into their messed-up family drama and highly competitive ballet school. I highly recommend The Turnout to those who love slow build thrillers and family dramas! 

Thank you to Putnam Books for the review copy! All opinions are my own! 

Synopsis from Goodreads

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.

About the Author

Headshot of author Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Die a Little, Queenpin, The Song Is You, Bury Me Deep, The End of Everything, Dare Me, The Fever, You Will Know Me and Give Me Your Hand.

Abbott is co-showrunner, writer and executive producer of DARE ME, the TV show adapated from her novel. She was also a staff writer on HBO’s THE DEUCE. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, SUNY and the New School University and has served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at The University of Mississippi.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She is currently developing two of her novels, Dare Me and The Fever, for television

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