I picked up The Family Upstairs one morning intending to read a few pages to see what it was like. I put it back down again 200 pages later only to go to sleep, and the carried on in the same fashion the next day.
Libby has just turned 25 and has inherited a house in Chelsea from the family she never knew – as a baby she’d been found in a crib with the bodies of her birth parents and another adult apparently dead by suicide in the kitchen. Once affluent, the family had since given away all of their possessions and shut themselves off from the outside world, stopping Libby’s siblings – who’ve never been found – from attending school and generally acting like cult members alongside the other family who’d also moved in with them.
The mystery then unfolds as Libby starts to investigate her new property and past, while we also follow Lucy – a single mother living in dire straits in France who’s trying to get back to England, and get flashbacks courtesy of Henry, Libby’s brother, who lets us know just what exactly went on when their family was joined by the Thomsen’s, and how the adults of the household all came to die.
With a brilliantly oppressive atmosphere from the start, The Family Upstairs was a real page turner that I thoroughly enjoyed with Henry’s storyline in particular being a standout, and the depiction of how someone can slowly take control of a household that’s not their own was really well done. If I had any quibbles, I wasn’t really particularly invested in Lucy’s present-day storyline which I think could have probably been cut entirely without us missing anything, but I’ll definitely be reading more Lisa Jewell in the future nevertheless.