The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Three adults are found dead in the Lamb household in what looks like a suicide pact by a cult. Moreover, the four teenagers in the house are nowhere to be found. Lisa Jewell’s suspense novel peels off the mystery – surrounding the appearance of and eventual settling in of an unknown family, The Thomsens, at the Lamb residence – in chapters alternating between the POVs of three crucial characters.

The premise of the novel is incredibly strange; I must give the author credit for conjuring such an implausible plot. Not because it’s completely unimaginable, but because it steers so far away from the realm of what suspense novels usually contain. And in doing so, keeps the reader hooked to the story.

The chapters alternate between the perspectives of three characters and also two time periods. I liked this style of storytelling because it didn’t reveal too much in a short time and kept building the anticipation. I wouldn’t call the book a thriller; it’s more of a layered mystery that leaves you astounded at times.

Image Courtesy – Goodreads

The story starts with Libby’s POV, and she has just inherited an enormous mansion from her birth parents because neither of her older siblings has been heard from. That starting point held such promise, so I was thoroughly invested in the book.

While some of the more surface-level mystery angles are predictable from the beginning, it is the plight of the Lamb family that will keep you devouring page after page, appalled at the direction the story is taking. I felt so infuriated that nobody was standing up to the bullies, and that the children were being subjected to such a toxic environment.

I found the author’s writing to be evocative enough to evoke a strong emotional response. The circumstances under which Lucy has to care for her children, the all-consuming manner of Henry’s yearning for Phin’s attention, and the ease with which members of the Lamb residence get blinded by David Thomsen’s façade – it has all been depicted well.

On the whole, I did expect it to be a nail-biting thriller. Instead, it is an engrossing mystery novel, worth your while.

Published by Meera Nair

A 27 year-old freelance Content Writer, who spends all her free time ensconced in the pages of a book or writing to her heart's content about topics that excite the creative spirit in her.

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