”The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewel, Atria Books, 2019

A bone-chilling suspense novel of three entangled families living together in a house of dark secrets. Lots of different characters at first. Hang on to pencil and paper to take notes as to who is who. Told in dual timing by Libby, Lucy and Henry, we get different perspectives. The descriptions of the house make the unbelievable story come alive.

Libby turned 25 and knew a letter would come in the mail soon announcing her inheritance. The lawyer informed her that she had inherited a huge estate in Chelsea. She learned that police had found the bodies of Mr. And Mrs. Lamb on the kitchen floor. A 10-month-old baby was found in a crib in good health. Neighbors observed numerous children living in the house in recent years. Libby asked, “Was that baby me?”

Lucy and her two children appear in the story next. Birdie moves into the house just for a few days and stays. When Henry Sr. develops back problems, Birdie recommends David Thomsen. David moves his whole family into the house and never leaves.

Henry Jr. at 13 recognizes that a power struggle had started between his father and David Thomsen.

With so many characters coming and going, the stress begins to build. In the kitchen downstairs are three dead bodies.

The descriptions of the toxic house and what goes on are so vividly written that it transports the reader to the scene. At the end of the story the goosebumps linger.

It’s a great fiction read for those who love an expertly crafted psychological thriller.

“The Family Upstairs” is a “don’t-look-away” story, a compulsively readable novel that features multiple storylines, three POVs, an unreliable narrator, a sociopath, several mysteries, many murders, a crazy cult, a sick obsession, and much more. Needless to say, there’s a whole lot going on.

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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