2.5 star, adult

Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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.

I must say that I was quite disappointed with this thriller. Not that it was particularly badly written or anything, but for my usual expectations for this kind of story, it just fell short for me, personally. Having said that though, perhaps this could be considered a lighter type of thriller, and is maybe more suitable for readers new to thrillers, since I didn’t find it neither particularly chilling nor scary – again, all personal opinions of course.

This story follows a couple of POVs, the main one being Libby Jones, who finds out she is a the sole inheritor of a large estate. This estate has a twisted history though, and was left abandoned for a reason. Simultaneous to the story line of Libby investigating her mysterious past, another voice begins narrating the “chilling” events of the past leading up to the house being left to Libby.

The past involves the downfall of Libby’s birth parents (from riches to rags, if you will), and the following families who come to live with them to share the cost of the large house. However, not all is as it seems with these families who arrive, as the family slowly discovers. The twisting and perversion of this household is the “scary” thing that happens in the book, though I did not personally find it to be that convincing. While I could understand perhaps how it may have come about, I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the way things transpired, and as such, did not find the book too enjoyable. Or perhaps this is a sign that I have read too many thrillers and have certain expectations set for the level of drama that I want to see happen. Either way, unfortunately, this book was just not for me.

Overall Recommendations:

If you are looking for truly haunting and chilling thrillers, I would recommend looking elsewhere. The Family Upstairs follows the unveiling of the secrets of the past, of what happened at Libby’s birth home to cause it to be abandoned until she was of age. If you are new to thrillers, and may not want huge scares or major anxiety-inducing plots, this may be the book for you! I would say that it has many elements of a classic thriller, but they are all fairly tame – so if that is what you are looking for, this may be right up your alley.

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