A unique and entertaining modern day gothic thriller.
Libby Jones just turned 25, and one day shortly after she returns from work to find a letter that will change her life forever. In this letter, she learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned gothic mansion on the banks of the Thames River in London‘s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood. The house is worth millions.
Twenty-five years ago police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived they found a healthy, happy ten-month old baby in a crib. Downstairs, in the kitchen, three bodies are lined up on the floor, all dressed in black. The four other children reported to live at the house were gone. What happened in this house? Were there other adults? Where are the other children?
THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS is a complex psychological thriller. The writing was suspenseful and draws you into the story. The complexity comes from the story being told from three different perspectives with varying timeframes. Libby’s perspective is told in the current day as she become acquainted with the creaks and groans and history of her newly inherited house.
The second perspective is from Henry, who was one of the children who had disappeared from the house. Henry’s chapters take us into the gothic mansion in the late 1980’s. He tells us the story of how slowly and yet quickly his parents and house changed after “they” arrived. The story Henry tells is vexing and unsettling.
The third perspective is from Lucy, a homeless women in France, with two kids and a dog. She was another one of the children who had been in the house back in the day. Her story is also told from the current day perspective, and she is willing to do anything to get back to that house in Chelsea, even make nice with her violent ex-husband.
Initially, the reading was difficult, adjusting to the various perspectives, and the large number of relevant characters. With the exception of Libby, the characters were while well-developed, either weak, unlikable or downright creepy. It was a quick read for me once I got into it and I found THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS fairly original and moderately entertaining.
Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Published November 5, 2019