BookBrowse Reviews The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Turnout

by Megan Abbott

The Turnout by Megan Abbott X
The Turnout by Megan Abbott
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2021, 352 pages

    May 2022, 368 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Maria Katsulos
Buy This Book

About this Book



A slow-burn thriller with neck-breaking twists and turns, Megan Abbott's The Turnout swirls complicated questions of family, loyalty and how far you would go to protect your own — or yourself.

"We grew up together," Dara finally repeated.
But Marie only looked at her and said quietly, "Did we? Grow up?"

The Turnout, Megan Abbott's tenth novel, swirls complicated questions of family, loyalty and how far you would go to protect your own — or yourself. Like so many of Abbott's stories, it also revolves around female-dominated spaces — as she describes it, "the misty pink hothouse of ballet" — and the feelings of impossible joy, rage, lust and wonder they generate. Focusing on twin sisters Dara and Marie Durant and the ballet school (Durant School of Dance) that they run with Dara's husband Charlie after inheriting it from their mother, The Turnout is a slow-burn thriller with neck-breaking twists and turns throughout.

With Abbott making the allusion herself several times, it's easy to see the Durant School and the lives the sisters lead at the beginning of the novel as Edenic. They grew up sheltered, homeschooled by their ballerina mother so that they could devote as much time as possible to shaping their bodies and minds into those of perfect dancers. It becomes readily apparent throughout the course of the book, however, that evil has always lurked under the leaves in the garden, even before a snake slithers into their midst. Abbott's descriptions of their falling-apart suburban town — with special attention paid to the Durants' childhood home — mirror the plot of a once tight-knit family coming apart at the seams. The strange and dark relationships between the twins, their parents and Charlie are finally flung into sharp focus when a mysterious accident occurs at the school and brings a newcomer into their world, forcing them to recall trauma and abuse throughout their shared childhoods. The Turnout showcases how the most beautiful things can hide the darkest ones within the shadows, and how, sometimes, we must go through horrific ordeals to reach the light.

As in Give Me Your Hand, Abbott's 2018 novel about the grueling world of scientific research through the eyes of two high-school friends forever bound by a shocking secret, every line of prose in The Turnout sings with the author's unique, poetic voice. One of my favorite lines is her description of the young male ballet dancers in the Durant School — she paints a picture of "…their chests like ship prows yet waists so dainty, like prim bows." The would-be rhyme of "prows" and "bows" is a microcosmic example highlighting Abbott's character, plot and world building skill: Whatever you expect her to write will give out on you like a snapping pointe shoe. I also loved a turn of phrase in Dara's memory of Marie and another character, as she remembers her "neck thick and ringed red, his hands on her shoulders, wringing them red." The "ring/wring" parallel here is simply beautiful. I don't know how Abbott's poetic writing translates to TV (she is also a television writer, and The Turnout is slated to become a television series) but her ability to turn language in on itself is a major factor in her novels becoming hits.

I wholeheartedly recommend The Turnout to those looking for their next page-turning, murderous thriller, fans of suburban gothic and dark themes, and anyone with even a passing interest in dance. This novel will make you strap your spiritual pointe shoes on — or maybe tuck them under the bed with the monsters you fear.

Reviewed by Maria Katsulos

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in October 2021, and has been updated for the June 2022 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Nutcracker


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Turnout, try these:

  • The Favor jacket

    The Favor

    by Nora Murphy

    Published 2023

    About this book

    A gripping debut domestic suspense novel, Nora Murphy's thrilling The Favor explores with compassion and depth what can happen when women pushed to the limit take matters into their own hands.

  • They're Going to Love You jacket

    They're Going to Love You

    by Meg Howrey

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    A magnetic tale of betrayal, art, and ambition, set in the world of professional ballet, New York City during the AIDS crisis, and present-day Los Angeles.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
More books by Megan Abbott
Search read-alikes
How we choose readalikes

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Mystery of Mysteries
    A Mystery of Mysteries
    by Mark Dawidziak
    Edgar Allan Poe biographers have an advantage over other writers because they don't have to come up ...
  • Book Jacket: Moonrise Over New Jessup
    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    by Jamila Minnicks
    Jamila Minnicks' debut novel Moonrise Over New Jessup received the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially...
  • Book Jacket
    The Magician's Daughter
    by H.G. Parry
    "Magic isn't there to be hoarded like dragon's treasure. Magic is kind. It comes into ...
  • Book Jacket: The Great Displacement
    The Great Displacement
    by Jake Bittle
    On August 4, 2021, California's largest single wildfire to date torched through the small mountain ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Nurse's Secret
by Amanda Skenandore
A fascinating historical novel based on the little-known story of America's first nursing school.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Lost English Girl
    by Julia Kelly

    A story of love, betrayal, and motherhood set against the backdrop of World War II and the early 1960s.

  • Book Jacket

    Once We Were Home
    by Jennifer Rosner

    From the author of The Yellow Bird Sings, a novel based on the true stories of children stolen in the wake of World War II.

Who Said...

Great literature cannot grow from a neglected or impoverished soil...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!


Solve this clue:

R Peter T P P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.