The Family Upstairs

Posted 14 November 2020 by Kim in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

The Family UpstairsThe Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Published by Atria Books
Release Date: 5 November 2019
Genres: mystery, thrillers
Audience: adult
Pages: 338
Source: library
Format: eBook
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BookBub
Shelve it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars


from the back cover

An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
The can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

my review

This was a book of psychopathic goodness, a phrase that I realize sounds somewhat weird. Yet it is entirely apt. The Family Upstairs is disturbing, atmospheric, and delightfully chilling on so many levels. The creepy mansion is a perfect setting for the dark story of the devolution of a family, the destructive cult that takes over their lives, and the horrors that ensue.

The story is told from three different points of view, but until the end nears, we aren’t quite sure how the three are connected. Adding to the anticipation is that one of the narrators, Henry, tells his story from both the past and the present, and he is at times an extremely unreliable character.

The characters are so complex, regardless of whether they are a major part of the story or a supporting character. The primary antagonist, David, is dark and twisted but highly charismatic. He almost reminded me of a more polished Charles Manson in the way in which he was able to subvert most everyone around him to his whims. To watch Martina change under his control, becoming a shadow of her former self, was especially horrifying, made even more so by the fact that she embraced it, somehow blind to the reality of what was happening to her and to her family.

The mystery of it was engrossing, and I was as absorbed in as Libby. I needed to keep turning the pages, needed to know the truth of what had happened to her, to everyone in that house. In truth, what was still happening.

When the story finally came together, it was in a deliciously perfect way. It felt resolved. And then I read the ending… and I LOVED IT!

my recommendation

If you love a gothic thriller, rich with atmosphere and dark characters, this is the book to read. I HIGHLY recommend it!

About Lisa Jewell

Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

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