The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Mystery/Thriller, 340 pages, published in 2019

After inheriting a house that was left to her by her birth parents, Libby begins to find out more about her mysterious past. As more people related to that past begin showing up, she begins to learn all of the dark secrets that led to the discovery of her as a baby in a house with three dead bodies.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: sexual assault (including statutory and marital, only one scene is described in any kind of detail), negligence, poisoning, abuse (mental and physical), drugs (casual use as well as drugging of unsuspecting people) *none of this will be discussed in any depth in this review*

I wanted to read more mystery/thriller type books and this was the first one that I came across on Scribd that seems interesting, so I gave it a shot. I was consumed by this book when I was listening to it. I couldn’t stop listening and when I had to do other things, I was thinking about it.

In this book, three different POVs are followed. It actually took me a long time to realize that one is first person, while the others are in third person. The POVs follow Libby, as she is inheriting the house and investigating her past, Lucy, a woman stuck in France with her two children but desperate to get back to England for the “baby’s” 25th birthday, and Henry, who is telling his story of his time in the house. I personally didn’t really see the point of Lucy’s entire story. I really only thought that she was relevant at the end, so I found her chapters a little unnecessary at times.

Henry’s POV ended up being my favorite. You get to hear first hand how things went down in the house. I thought the atmosphere of the house was really well done. In my head, they were living in a run down house that was always dark and creepy, though I don’t think that that was the case.

The details of what happened at the house are slowly revealed by Libby’s investigations and Henry’s accounts. It was interesting, because you know mostly how things end up, but you are also getting the story from the beginning, so trying to predict what happened in the middle was suspenseful. I was actually a little underwhelmed by the big reveal I suppose, but all the smaller twists along the way are what kept me on the edge of my seat for this book.

There was an element of psychopathy and unreliability that I think could have been played up way more than it was. I don’t know if I was just too caught up in the story to realize it at first, but I do feel like it came out of nowhere a little bit at the end. Though now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure if the ending would have the same impact on me if that element had been more evident.

Some details of this book definitely had me suspending my disbelief at times. There were definitely a few things that wouldn’t have worked the way they did if this happened in real life.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this! I did actually wish it was a little creepier, which is weird because I am a total chicken. There were moments that were creepy or chilling, but the book overall was not. The ending definitely left me feeling a lot of different feelings.

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3 thoughts on “The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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