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The Family Upstairs


The Family Upstairs

Life was pretty normal for the Lamb family until they came. But they would only be staying temporarily. Really, just for the weekend. Maybe a little longer. Then the days stretched into weeks, then months, then years. They were insidious. And they had an uncanny power about them. Londoners would never imagine the horrors that went on inside 16 Cheyne Walk, that posh manor on the banks of the Thames River in Chelsea. If anyone did realize what they were doing, no one sounded the alarm.

Until one day. An anonymous 999 call dispatched the police to 16 Cheyne. There, they found what appeared to be a cult suicide. Three adults, lying dead on the floor of the kitchen, and a note identifying the baby, a healthy girl cooing in an ornate crib upstairs. But what happened to the other children? Reportedly, there were four more, and they were simply gone.

"THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS starts out quietly, but before you know it, it has turned creepy.... Take a trip to the dark side here, and experience waves of chills running up your spine."

Years have passed, and now “the baby” has come back. On her 25th birthday, Libby Jones discovered that she came into this world as the daughter of the family at 16 Cheyne Walk, and was named Serenity. Libby was the mysterious child in the crib at the suicide mansion all those years ago. Now, she’s the owner of that grand, deteriorating house. For a working class young woman living pretty much paycheck to paycheck, suddenly coming into an inheritance of a property worth millions can be a life-changing event. She is excited to see this mansion that she now owns.

Even more important to Libby is finding out the truth of what went on the day her parents and that other man died. Did they really kill themselves in a suicide pact? It’s hard to fathom. And easy to understand why she can’t let the questions go unanswered. With the aid of Miller Roe, the reporter who originally followed the story, Libby sets out to uncover her true history. However, she might discover more than she ever wanted to know. Even Miller admits he got a lot of it wrong.

Those five years in the house with the Lamb family and the others molded the children into people far different from who they otherwise might have become. After the adults died, they each went their own way and handled the trauma of those years in a unique fashion. They struggled to survive, not just physically, but also the psychological impact of their past. Now, some of them are returning to their childhood home in anticipation of seeing “the baby” again. The wait is finally over. Excitement runs high. But not everyone’s intentions are good.

THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS starts out quietly, but before you know it, it has turned creepy. We all realize that some people know how to manipulate, use and ultimately abuse others for their own purposes. There’s one of those people in this story. And, wow, what a master manipulator. In her stunning new novel, Lisa Jewell not only has crafted a great thrill ride, but has looked seriously at human weakness and the evil that preys on it. Take a trip to the dark side here, and experience waves of chills running up your spine. This is excellent reading for the cold days ahead.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on November 8, 2019

The Family Upstairs
by Lisa Jewell