The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Published by Atria Books on November 5, 2019 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, mystery, suspense
Format & Length: e-book, 352
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From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.
Be careful who you let in.
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.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
The Family Upstairs is a dark tale of dysfunctional family drama that’s kind of like watching a train wreck; you don’t want to see the damage but you just can’t help but to keep watching.
This is told through alternating three points of view, Libby, Lucy, and Henry, each of which are intriguing in their own right. It’s not spelled out exactly how they connect for some time, but if you’re paying close enough attention you can make educated guesses on that front. There is something of a mystery to uncover here, with a tense and unsettling atmosphere that helps build suspense. And it starts with a slow burn, gradually ramping up towards the end as final reveals emerge.
The Family Upstairs unfolds in layers to delve into some disturbing relationships and events that won’t be right for all readers. The characters range from virtuous to downright hateful, with plenty falling somewhere in the middle. Some of their actions are beyond cruel and are difficult to stomach. But there are moments of lightness and happiness and the writing itself is wonderful.
It’s hard to say that I enjoyed such a dark story but it was thoroughly compelling and difficult to put down. I find it hard to recommend The Family Upstairs because of its many potential triggers, but if this sounds like the kind of story you are looking for then definitely give it a shot.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.