The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (BOOK REVIEW) || Not a Happy Family

Look, I love books/movies featuring cults. I never want to be in one, definitely not. Though this isn’t a religious cult, just a weird, New Age type cult, I still want no part in it 😂

Disclaimer: I loaned this book out of the library with the intention of reading and reviewing it honestly. The featured image is my own. The summary is taken from Goodreads. All opinions expressed are my own.


The Family Upstairs - Lisa JewellTitle: The Family Upstairs
Author: Lisa Jewell
Narrators: Tamaryn Payne, Bea Holland, Dominic Thorburn
Year Published: 2019
Audio Hours/Number of Pages: 9h37m/442pgs
Publisher: Random House
Cover Art/Designer: 
Genre: Adult ~ Mystery ~ Thriller ~ LGBTQ+ character

Stars: use thisuse thisuse thisuse this
Links: Goodreads || The Storygraph
Format read in: Audiobook (library book) 
CW/TW: (Taken from The Storygraph) Child abuse, Confinement, Emotional abuse, Rape, Adult/minor relationship, Miscarriage, Animal death.


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.
A compulsive new thriller from Lisa Jewell.


This has a cult in it. Therefore it’s instantly better than the previous Lisa Jewell book I read. I like cults (in a completely outside, normal manner). The cult was interesting to read about! It’s not a religious one, so it was set up more like a commune/new age cult. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am fascinated about cults. They’re so interesting to read about! There was, of course, a lot said about the cult and I really enjoyed that because any time I can read about cults is a good time (in a weird way). 

There’s like 3 (2 female, 1 male) narrators and it did get confusing a lot – and I had it on 2x speed so everyone sounds the same 😂. I only realized at the end that the one narrator is actually just remembering his childhood for the most part and that all three narrators are in the same timeline. So that would’ve been nice to know before.

I just want to point out that Libby (the baby abandoned in the synopsis) goes to the abandoned house – she’s now 25 so she’s inherited it basically – she hears something/someone upstairs and she CALLS OUT?? Sweetie, you’re so lucky you’re not in a horror movie right now! 

There is a gay character but he’s not a good character at all. And sure, you can definitely be gay and not be a good person but also, he’s not like just rude to everyone; the way he’s written feels… predatory (not to underage kids – though he’s underage too, just to another male character) and I didn’t like that at all. 

I think, and I noticed this in Then She Was Gone that Lisa Jewell is a slow-paced writer. I only like slow-paced writing in fantasy books and even then I don’t want to be glacial (cough cough, Game of Thrones). So that was also an annoying thing to read – the slow pace. Nothing totally against it. It bores me! 

I did like Lucy (the one narrator) and Libby more than Henry (the gay character). Lucy has two kids and a dog and is actually in France when the book starts up and has to make her way to the house (which was also a bit confusing). She’s definitely a will do anything for my kids type of character, which I liked. While Libby isn’t really a strong character, you could tell that she wants to find out the truth of who she is and what happened in the house and that she’ll do anything for that truth. And I like that in a character.

The plot is very much focused around the characters but I did appreciate that because we got 3 POV’s we basically get 3 versions of the plot. That was a good choice because with Libby you got an outside perspective and you get to put the pieces together along with the puzzle pieces that you get from Lucy and Henry. I am a fan of multiple povs so I did enjoy that part. I think if I had one pov in a mystery thriller book I would be very bored 😂


There is a sequel coming later this year and I’m interested in that so I’ll read it when it comes out! And then figure out when I’ll read whichever Lisa Jewell book I’ll read next.

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