On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.
In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.
They’ve been dead for several days.
Who has been looking after the baby?
And where did they go?
Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.
I remember hearing Lisa Jewell talk about The Family Upstairs when I was at the Theakston Crime Festival back in 2019. Hearing Lisa speak about her book made me want to buy it as I thought the idea sounded so unique and so chilling. It did not disappoint; I’m only sorry that it’s taken me this long to read it.
Twenty-five-year old Libby can’t believe her luck when out of the blue; Libby discovers that she has inherited a mansion in Chelsea. The property has been held in trust for her since she was a baby. Libby has no idea about her past or the dark secrets that are connected with it. The moment she steps foot in her new home, she realises there is something very eerie about the place. Soon the secrets of her past come back to haunt her.
This book is steeped in mystery. As Libby starts to learn more about her past, I wanted to find out more about her family, and the cult, it’s said, that she was born into. I wanted to know why she was the only one who survived, when the rest of her family were killed, and where her siblings were who disappeared. Libby teams up with a journalist, Miller, to try and uncover what really happened in the house all those years ago. He has previously tried to find the answers, but now that he has Libby on board, he feels that he is one step closer to getting to the truth.
Definitely, the most chilling scenes in this book were when Lisa Jewell takes us back in time before Libby was born. It made it even more disturbing to think of Libby staying in the house where the dreadful things Lisa Jewell describes, once happened. It made me think that someone was watching her and that it was only going to be a matter of time before she discovered who that was. The flashback scenes are filled with a strong sense of foreboding, especially when Libby’s family, first become acquainted with their new guests. You can see that there is something off here with them right from the start and I wanted to know what it was that they were planning.
The story is also told from the point of view of a character called Lucy. I connected with Lucy straight away, and you can’t help but feel sorry for her, as she struggles to keep her family together. Lucy is currently living abroad, but she is desperate to get back to the UK. It is clear that she has to go to extreme lengths to achieve this goal, to ensure safe passage for her and her children, but what connection does she have to Libby?
The Family Upstairs is very creepy right from the start, and it is very dark. It kept me asking questions as I was reading it. I’ve only read one other thriller by Lisa Jewell, and I need to catch up on the rest. This is a complex, multi-layered book that is very cleverly constructed. I thought it culminated in a very satisfactory ending as well.
Publication date: 8th August 2019
Print length: 442 pages
The Family Upstairs is available to buy: