The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell

two and a half stars

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 352
Release Date: November 5, 2019

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.


The Family Upstairs is a disappointment to say the least.

The novel features three points of view making the story confusing and difficult to follow at times. Had the story been told from only Libby’s point of view, the story would have been much more enjoyable and could have been labelled a thriller/mystery rather than flirt with the family drama line.

What exacerbates the confusing points of view is the slow and inconsistent pace. Some chapters are slow and seemingly directionless that I had to put the book down, while others are interesting and kept me turning the pages. However, the interesting chapters are too short so when things get exciting, the chapter abruptly ends and forces readers to switch to a boring perspective.

I would label The Family Upstairs more of a contemporary drama rather than a thriller or mystery. While there are some spooky moments, they’re used sparingly and strategically rather than a constant element of the story.

Overall, The Family Upstairs was a disappointing read that doesn’t pay off the time spent reading.

***I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review


Have you read The Family Upstairs? What did you think?

10 thoughts on “The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell

    1. This was my first Jewell novel, so I’m going to wait a little bit before I read something else.

      On a side note, thank you for bringing to my attention that her last name as two Ls. I usually pride myself on getting names right.

  1. This sounds like a disappointing read. Extra disappointing because the premise sounds so interesting. I hope your next read is better Nadine!

      1. Ugh I hate when that happens! I’m getting used to it this year since I seem to have the unpopular opinion on everything I read.

      2. Haha- I never thought my expectations were unrealistic until this year where I felt like I was “wrong” about every single book I read. Now I’m thinking it must be me.

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