Cover Design: Ceara Elliot
Content Warnings: Violence; child abuse; rape; kidnapping/imprisonment; abandonment
Three people have been found dead in what appears to be a suicide pact as part of a mysterious cult in an unsuspecting mansion in Chelsea. The police find a baby upstairs, the only member of the household who is still alive. The only problem is, the corpses have been dead for several days, so who is feeding the baby? The Family Upstairs follows this baby twenty five years later when she inherits the aforementioned mansion as a result of no other heirs stepping forwards to claim it. Will she find out who she is, and if so, at what cost?
Throughout the book I found myself feeling deeply moved by their story, as abuse has its way of worming its way into even the strongest families and ruining the lives in its path. The warnings I have included at the beginning of the review are only a small glimpse into the devastation this novel outlines, and it is certainly not an easy read in terms of this content. Having being abused myself by my mother, I can confirm it was a difficult read, but well worth persevering with for me personally, as it ends on a hopeful note, similarly to my own story.
So utterly compelling was the plot, that I devoured the entire book in one sitting, causing me to stay up until an extremely unreasonable time. This does not happen often, so it is certainly testament to Lisa Jewell’s abilities as a thriller author. At the start of the book, you are lulled into a false sense of security by the protagonist talking about everyday affairs, such as her house, her colleagues, best friend and appearance amongst other things, so when the pace does start to quicken, you are left feeling as though you have just set off on a rollercoaster ride.
My only criticism of the book is that I guessed the reveal a little too early, but that may be something to do with me being the type of person who asks questions for the entire duration of a film. Perhaps if you are a seasoned thriller reader, you might also have this problem, being familiar with various formulas within the genre. However, it didn’t dampen down my enjoyment of the book too much, and I would still firmly recommend it.
Since I don’t read many thriller novels, I cannot comment on whether or not it surrounds an original concept, but I can confirm that I enjoyed it a great deal, and thought the characters were developed well. You could see the child in the corresponding adult they grew up to be, but they also developed themselves in certain ways, which I thought was interesting to witness over the time spanned in the book. Whilst it was difficult to read about certain characters, I also spent time trying to figure out why they were acting the way they were, which immersed me further within it.
If anyone has any recommendations of where I should turn next in terms of Lisa Jewell’s bibliography, please let me know, because I’m considering reading some of her back catalogue after enjoying this particular instalment so much.
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