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 learns not only the identity of her 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. The home, even in its dilapidated state, is worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. What she doesn’t know is that others have been waiting for this day as well–and although they’ve been in hiding, they are now heading her way.
Nearly 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 safe and sound in the upstairs bedroom. In the kitchen, three dead bodies, all dressed in black, were seemingly posed next to a hastily scrawled note. The four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) delivers a powerful and propulsive story of two families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
What I thought
The Family Upstairs was my introduction to the much-beloved author, Lisa Jewell, and I must say, I definitely want to read more from her now. This was a deeply unsettling, engrossing, slow-burn of a Gothic-style mystery, and I very much enjoyed my time reading it.
I’ve seen some mixed reviews, but I think what it comes down to is whether you enjoy multiple-perspective plot lines or not. Me? I love them, and I loved how Jewell used them to keep the momentum going. There’s nothing better than following multiple storylines, wondering how they are all going to come together, and knowing that when they do, it’s going to be jaw-dropping. Especially when you realize that one of your narrators is 1000% unreliable. And for me, that moment of realization was deliciously chilling.
The other thing that worked for me with this format was that I enjoyed each perspective equally, which kept the pace moving relentlessly forward. I’m trying to stay as vague as I can, but I will say that one character in particular was so freakin’ horrifying that all of my murderino senses were going off. Two of the things that scare me the most in this world were present here–cults and sociopaths. And that last sentence? Totally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
The Family Upstairs was a delightfully entertaining, completely absorbing read–you’ll want to set aside a block of time for this one because once you pick it up, it won’t let you go.