The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell Review!

This book! Someone needs to make this into a film or a short series.🎭

As before, there will be spoilers in this review so if this is on your TBR List, stop reading!

We meet Libby who has just inherited a mansion in Chelsea, London. A mansion in which she was found abandoned in 25 years ago. A mansion where 3 decomposing bodies were found, two of which include her parents….dun! dun! duuuuun!

I totally Googled the address, this is what I found! That alone looks so nice!

The story is told from different perspectives from Lucy, Henry & Libby which gives a lot of depth to the characters and it also helps you understand them better. Libby is set on finding out what really happened to her birth parents and as a result dark & twisted secrets are revealed.

The book flips between the past & present, I think this was a great touch and it helped so much in truly understanding the mindset of these young children who were stuck in this life chosen by their parents.

Through Henry we get an insight into the past, to the moment David & Sally with their children Clemency & Phineas (Phin) and a musician Birdie and her partner Justin move into the Chelsea home to stay with Henry, his sister Lucy and the Lamb family. It’s not long till the family becomes disconnected from their ‘normal’ life. The children begin to be homeschooled, over time all the house belongings are sold and an explanation “we should live live more simply” is given. Through Henry’s eyes we are able to see that soon the house feels more like a cult, different variations of herbs are grown in the garden, bizarre rules are implemented, clothes and shoes are donated to charity, no one can leave the house and everyone starts to wear home made black robes! Let’s also not forget the charming David who seems to be the puppeteer. To say a lot happens in an understatement! Fast forward 4 years and we have 3 dead adults, well 4 but no one ever found Birdie and 4 missing children and one baby. David himself, was quite a chilling character, hungry for control and power, his necessity to obtain this through any means necessary often left me fearing for the life of the children. He was such a manipulative character, loving and charming when it suited him, yet cold and calculating underneath.

At first I was a little confused as I wasn’t entirely sure how the characters were all interlinked. I think the character that confused me the most was Lucy and I think this was just down to her being in based in France. You do quickly begin to understand her significance. We soon come to realise she is one of the 4 missing children! I think it was such a great idea to have both her and Henry involved as the narrators as you could see different paths the children took after their escape from the house. Sadly for Lucy, she was met with more violence in her life, unlucky in love and on the streets of France playing the fiddle, with hope of collecting enough money to feed her children and dog. Henry on the other hand, although also unlucky with love and a victim of violence, did everything in his power to get back into the position of wealth David took from him. Both were waiting for the day the ‘baby turned 25’, Libby’s birthday – the day she would be told of her inheritance.

I must also say, I enjoyed Miller’s character, his investigative journalism really helped to get things in motion, he was that push that Libby needed in times of uncertainty. I felt like she needed a protector, I couldn’t shake away the feeling that something bad might happen to her.

The moment the family was reunited was so sweet, it actually made me feel a little emotional, it was heartbreaking but so sweet. I did wonder if Henry would eventually flip the switch and kill everyone so that he can get the inheritance. Am I the only one? I’m still not very trusting of him!

Lastly, without giving too much away, Libby’s real birth parents? that was a shock, I actually didn’t see that coming!

The last few pages between Henry and Phin- oh my gosh!

Also can we talk about Henry climbing back on the roof AS AN ADULT, finding Birdie’s mummified body in the drain! Where he put it 25 years ago! and then taking her bones, putting them in a black bag and dropping it into the Thames? Why did no one address this?? It was mentioned so casually and no one seemed to actually register what was said! Henry low key made me feel uncomfortable.

Overall, it was such a good read, definitely a page-turner! The first few chapters were a tad slow but I think once all the families moved in, things began to get very interesting!

There will be a part 2 to this book, I think to be released in 2022. How do we feel about this?

I feel like the story will focus on the journey to Africa, where Libby can reunite with her father but I also feel like Henry will have some dark ulterior motive behind him seeing Phin again. I’m interested to see how the story develops!

What are your theories??

Thanks for checking in!

Kamila 🙂

My First Book Review!

I’m constantly on the prowl for new books so recently I subscribed to a book subscription called “A Box of Stories”, you can check them out here —>https://aboxofstories.com/

It’s a pretty nifty idea, a collection of books from undiscovered authors, hand picked for you based on your chosen genre and there’s a few to choose from! You have:

(this image is a screenshot from https://aboxofstories.com/ and I do not own it)

I went for Crime, Mystery & Thriller and I must say I was pretty happy with the selection I received, I am currently finishing book number three, which is The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana. You receive a surprise box each time and you can change the frequency of the deliveries. You can also link this to your Goodreads accounts too, so you don’t accidentally get a sent a book you’ve already read, it’s great!

I have left small reviews on 2 out of the 4 books that I’ve read already so if you’re interested, do check out my Instagram page, but the book that has left me pondering days after I’ve finished it is “The Woman in the Dark” written by Vanessa Savage. I’ve enjoyed it so much, that I bought a copy for my mum!

So this brings me to the true intention of this post: my first book review! So grab a cup of tea, get cosy and enjoy reading! There will be spoilers! So stop reading now if this is on your “To Read” list.

The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage

A a psychological thriller set in modern day South Wales, we meet Sarah, who after the death of her mother has a very difficult time piecing herself back together. Her husband Patrick, worried about her and their children, feels a new start will be best for the family so they move down to live by the sea in Patrick’s childhood home- a home in which a brutal murder took place 15 years ago and therefore been renamed to the Murder House.

The first thing I want to unwrap is the trigger, the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, which becomes the reason as to why the family has to move; Sarah accidentally overdoses on sleeping pills. Six months before this her mother passes away, leaving her a small sum of money, which Sarah wants to use for travelling the world with her family. After her overdose, Sarah agrees to give this money to her husband so they can buy his childhood home and start a new life.

Shortly after moving into the new home, strange things begin to happen, over time Patrick becomes aggressive and unpredictable, falling into fits of rage and mood swings, always lovingly apologising afterwards. Little bizarre “gifts” such as children’s toys are left at the front door with no explanation and let’s not forget the stranger watching the house from across the road. We can see this is very quickly becoming a toxic environment for the entire family. Sarah, feeling responsible for their families unhappiness, is desperate to make things work and to help her husband create the perfect home he dreams off.

Patrick believes they can bring the house back to its former glory, but we soon come to find the murderer of the previous owners has been released on parole, we are introduced to cold spots in the house, writing on the wall hidden under peeling wallpaper, stares and whispers from neighbours. We very much get a creepy possibly haunted house feeling, the paranormal element always at bay and with lack of any explanation this only increases the tension keeping you gripped up until the last page.

Sarah has been instructed to take medication for her anxiety but this results in her loosing her grip on reality thus becoming disconnected from her children. What I liked here was that we didn’t have to deal with little children that had to be taken care of, we have a 17 year old boy and a 15 year old girl, both developed characters with their own little storylines within the book. This idea by the author, also helped to shows us readers, the effect the medication had on Sarah and the lack of knowledge she actually has about what happens in her children’s lives, this becomes particularly evident when her son is admitted to a hospital after being assaulted and we come to find out how her daughter has lost her virginity.

After you finish this book, you come to realise the title gives a fair bit away. It tells you that the stranger watching the house is indeed a woman, from a darker time, but I feel like it also says a lot about Sarah. Due to her blind love and trust in her husband, she was unable to see the way she was being manipulated and gaslighted by Patrick from the day she met him. Because of the medication she took, she wasn’t able to see the pain & difficulties her children were going through and how her lack of support affected them. She was in fact, in the dark in regards to all the people and things that matter.

Overall, this is quite a dark read, with a lot of twists and small elements of horror, however it’s written so well that it is difficult to put down. It keeps you guessing not only with the storyline but also the general theme of the book, you half expect a possession to take place and I guess in a way it does with Patrick, who becomes a completely different man to whom we were introduced to at the start. The final chapters in the basement, felt like a lid has been lifted to years of secrets, the violence from Patrick demonstrated him spiralling completely out of control. It also resulted in Sarah finally being exposed to who her husband really is and how he has been orchestrating their entire life.

If you are looking for a good read, I would definitely recommend this, it was a solid 5 stars from me.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts?

Be kind to one another,

Kamila