‘The Family Upstairs’ book review: Compelling but confusing
A surprise inheritance sends a young woman named Libby Jones down the harrowing spiral of her own shocking history in this domestic suspense that sometimes feels taut and drags on a little in many other places
I have read a couple of Lisa Jewell’s books and heard discussions about others on YouTube. Though I have never been particularly fond of any of her works, I don’t know why I keep picking up her books whenever I come across one. It doesn’t make my heart jump with joy but when I see a new book by the author, I always grab it. I had ‘The Family Upstairs’ on Kindle but I still got a paperback copy recently. The cover was gorgeous. Still, I should have saved the money.
Not that the book was bad. But I didn’t really need a physical copy on my shelves. It’s not a book I’ll be recommending people to read. But I know people might enjoy it because it’s a light, pacy read.
A surprise inheritance sends a young woman named Libby Jones down the harrowing spiral of her own shocking history in this domestic suspense that sometimes feels taut and drags on a little in many other places. When Libby inherits a mansion in a posh neighborhood in London, her life, she thinks, is finally changing for the better. But little does she know that by claiming the inheritance she is also taking responsibility for a darker history, that she has a connection to an unsolved crime and a cult-like society. And things are waiting to unravel as soon as Libby makes herself known.
The plot has all the makings of a super gripping read. It is dark and broody. The setting—of cold, bleak London—adds to the claustrophobic feeling. Jewell had a clear concept while writing the book and she has executed that well. The characters are also well-crafted too. But the narrative switches between the past and the present and that’s where you get confused. I can’t really pinpoint why but it’s difficult to keep track of the two narratives and be able to connect them.
The good thing about the book is that though it’s a thick volume the font is quite big and the chapters aren’t long either. So, you will find yourself getting through it pretty quickly. The plot, even when it drags on, does manage to grab your interest. It feels a little too cliché in some places—like you’ve read the section before (in some other thriller books) or seen a similar scene play out in a movie. But I guess that is a problem all thriller readers can identify with. When you have read a lot of horror/thriller books, everything feels somewhat familiar.
The Family Upstairs
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Pages: 451, Paperback
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