Book Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.

A house with the darkest of secrets.


Libby has just inherited a house on one of the most exclusive streets in Chelsea. She is only focused on one thing once she gets into the house and this is to find out anything she can about the family she never knew. However, sinister secrets lurk in the rooms of this abandoned house and Libby isn’t sure she is going to like what she finds.

I have loved the direction Lisa Jewell has taken her novels and so I was eager to read this one. To be honest, this one had me from the blurb on the back of the book.

Told from the point of view of Libby and Lucy in the present and Henry decades before, it does tend to jump around a bit but they all have such a distinct voice that I had no issue keeping up with whose point of view I was reading from.

This book really appealed to my love of mystery and it is present all the way through. Just when I thought I had sussed something out, another plot twist would happen. It is written so well and had me obsessed right until the end.

There is not a lot I can do about the plot as I don’t want to give anything away. There are some outright creepy scenes as well as sad and heartbreaking moments. Libby is such an innocent character, I wanted things to work out for her. Lucy is an enigma and an interesting one. I couldn’t quite figure her out. All of these added up to one brilliant novel.

The Family Upstairs really is a unique psychological thriller that had me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the last. Great job, Lisa. I can’t wait to see what you’ve got coming up next.


About Lisa: 

Lisa’s first book, Ralph’s Party, came out in 1999 and was the best-selling debut novel for that year.

Since then, she has written and published over sixteen books, from the ‘curry and flatmates’ novels of the nineties and noughties like Thirtynothing, One Hit Wonder, A Friend of the Family and Vince & Joy, to more family-themed novels like After The Party, The Making of Us and The House We Grew Up In and more recently, psychological thrillers such as I Found You, Then She Was Gone, Watching You and The Family Upstairs, which charted in the summer of 2019 at number one in the hardback charts.

Lisa lives in London with her husband, two daughters, two hairy cats, two nervous guinea pigs and a lovely auburn dog. She writes every day, a minimum of one thousand words, in a cafe, with no access to the internet, in two to three hour sessions.

Say hi to Lisa on Twitter:

The Family Upstairs was released by Century in August 2019. Click to view on Amazon UK


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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