The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs

Book - 2019
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Bestselling author of "Watching You" introduces us to Libby Jones, orphaned at six months old. Now twenty-five, she's astounded to learn of an inheritance that will change her life. As Libby investigates the story of her birth parents and the dark legacy of her new home, Clemency and Lucy are headed her way to uncover, and possibly protect, secrets of their own.
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, ©2019.
ISBN: 9781982136208
9781501190100
Characteristics: 340 pages ;,24 cm.

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t
tammygfarmgirl
Sep 21, 2020

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Delicious chills and family horror!

c
Cidherman
Sep 14, 2020

Interesting, but falls short of thrilling!

Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2020

I have mixed feelings about THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS.

This book would seem to have everything necessary to catapult it into an "edge of your seat", "can't put it down" thriller status. Unfortunately it never really gets there.

Plot is king. As a concept, Lisa Jewell's idea is absolutely chilling.. It is plausible in the way something slow and insidious takes over your life. It is similar to a battered wife or a victim of Stockholm Syndrome or somebody who gets absorbed into a cult. They end up controlled, subdued and shells of their former selves. In this case it is a family that gets absorbed by the insidious evil. In reality it is the parents, while the narrator, a young boy, Henry, who looks on, becomes increasingly distressed at the breakdown of his family. Henry is never taken in by the charismatic personalities that render his parents compliant, mindless victims, who appear to have no free will.

The decent into household madness takes place over a period of five years changing the lives of a dozen people, in harmful ways.

Jewell is an excellent writer, and her central female characters come to life as three dimensional, empathetic people. Her male narrator and every other important male in the book is a hard sell when it comes to plausibility. They all have some interesting character traits, but those traits are exaggerated and stereotypical. "Evil budding psychopath; taciturn, stoic & resigned; alcoholic wife beater; charismatic manipulator; rejected suitor; spiteful resentful child, etc..

The children are the focus of the story, but the reasons for their predicament is never explored beyond what the children know and see. They never understand exactly what is going on and our understanding is limited by their narrow view of the world. The adults who are responsible for their abuse, and the adults who stand by and let it happen, never really are explained to the reader. We hardly get to know them at all. This is convenient for the author but feels a bit lazy for the reader. Motivation is key to developing a thrilling plot, but, if you are going to make your characters act in ways that are not normal or natural, i want to know why. By showing us only a childs view, the adults never have to explain themselves, which strains the credibility of the story. Even when Henry directly asks an adult to explain the odd things, the answers are cryptic (if they answer at all), and the question never gets answered at all -- not then or later.

The book is interesting but the pacing feels off and the climaxes fall short of thrilling. It isn"t boring but it doesn't have the urgency of a thriller, either.

esmom1 Sep 09, 2020

This book was fantastic! Characters very intriguing; great page turner!

l
LibrarianLaurie
Sep 09, 2020

This is very entertaining, a little dark mystery-light novel. Every chapter is a different character perspective and you learn things piece by piece.

STPL_Kerry Sep 05, 2020

This book was fantastic!! Put it on hold right now :)

s
Sophia222
Aug 25, 2020

This book tells the story of three characters who are all connected through a big, empty house. I found this story extremely gripping and I could not put it down at all. I read it in one day and was completely enthralled the entire time. The characters were diverse ages: teenagers, young adults, and older adults, so it was relatable to me and I would imagine is would be relatable to a wide range of people. This is one of my favourite mysteries and I recommend it to both adults and teenagers :)

m
matcat44
Aug 21, 2020

This is a grim story, with strange and weird characters. I found the switching between two time periods difficult to remember who was who. There are some very disturbing and odd alliances.
I really enjoyed Gone baby Gone, which was a straightforward intriguing story, but this one is definitely not that. Very disappointed.

m
Maria_Wa
Aug 01, 2020

This story keeps readers guessing until the end, maintaining a deeply enticing atmosphere through cleverly-crafted characters, a rich, British setting, and psychological uncertainty. This book provides not only a thrilling story, but a thorough piece of entertainment, involving the reader in the mystery through carefully crafted dialogue and text. Highly recommend.

k
kathybibus
Jul 20, 2020

At times I found myself getting anxious reading this book, but it was well worth it. Very dark at times but then the light would shine through.

k
Kmum1
Jul 16, 2020

Just loved this book, by the time I got half way through I couldn't put it down. Because the author switches between the views of three different characters, reading just one chapter a at a time wasn't an option. Highly recommend.

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