The Family Upstairs

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

The Family Upstairs is a very chilling thriller that is probably the darkest book Lisa Jewell has done to date.
I age to be honest and say the first third of the book I found a little confusing but as the book went on the clearer it became. The only reason I found it confusing is we have point of view chapters from three different characters, two in the present and one in the past. When it started to bind together and you started to find out who the characters were and how they related to each other it became a very addictive read. I have to admit to probably racing a little at the beginning as I knew it was going to be good and just needed to get into the nitty, gritty as soon as poss!!
This was a great thriller with lots of twists and turns and characters that were believable and likeable.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century for this ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.
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Cheyne Walk is one of the most desirable addresses in London. One house has a dark secret. Many years ago three bodies were found in the kitchen dressed in similar clothes. Upstairs in a cot was a young baby. She was clean & well fed but the bodies had been dead for some time. What secrets did this house hold. This house was once elegant, luxuriously furnished with a family of four living there. First came a couple with a cat who were staying for a few days, then another family & before long Henry, the son of the house wonders how these people seem to have taken over their lives.With a start like that you know you are in for a good read & this book lived up to its promise.

Told from the perspective of Henry ( I disliked him intensely but he did explain a lot!) and by Lucy & Libby- the baby, this was an addictive read. I loved it. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
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3.5/5 

This was a good compelling read about intertwined families and how their lives developed in a Chelsea house, in the most unusual way. The book starts with different chapters from several different characters. Without there being any clear link between these chapters until about 1/3 of the way in I found the book slow to take off. However once I started to get a grip of who was who and how it could be relevant I couldn't put it down. There were a great few twists towards the end, some of which I'm still thinking about. Definitely would be a 4 star for me if the beginning was a little but more coherent. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review and feedback.
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Nothing against this author or the book, it just wasn’t my thing. It’s well written and I was thankful to read it, I just didn’t engage with the story.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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A brilliant read, wouldn't expect anything less from this author. Not my favourite book of hers but still a very quick read. Characters are believable. Very compelling.
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A captivating read with a truly different story.  A book worthy of the genre psychological thriller.  The story starts with a baby found healthy and well surrounded by bodies who have been dead for days.  Going back in time a wealthy family in Chelsea open their home to needy strangers.  The direction this decision goes is dark and disturbing particularly for the children of the mutual families.  In current day the house is mysteriously left to Libby who starts to found out the disturbing history.  A really gripping read.
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UPDATED REVIEW!! 4.5 stars

It's no secret that Lisa Jewell has gained notoriety within the thriller genre and most definitely within the publishing world in general. Her ability to mesmerise readers with intriguing plots and captivating storytelling makes her one of the most successful voices of the domestic thriller. So following the success of her previous bestsellers, she has set the bar pretty high with THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS and the hype leading up to its release. It was only natural that I anticipated a masterful tale complete with riddles and twists and complexities to keep me gripped right up to the end. So...what happened?

Imagine inheriting an eight bedroom property in the heart of Chelsea - an incredibly affluent area of London abundant with multi-million dollar homes. Would it change your life? 

Libby has always known she was adopted and upon turning 25 she had always expected to receive a token of some kind from the trust of her biological parents. She did expect this. Upon receiving notification of her bequest she is shocked to discover that she has inherited the massive house - 16 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea - that once belonged to her parents. A house that is shrouded with a mysterious and tragic history. Libby had no idea just what she would discover when she opened the door to the dilapidated boarded up old house. Within its walls are the secrets it holds and has never told.

When Libby was 10 months old - known then as Serenity - she was found alone in her cot in the upstairs room of the Chelsea mansion. Her parents - Henry and Martina Lamb - were found dead and decomposing, an apparent suicide with apparent links to a cult. Her brother and sister, Henry and Lucy, were nowhere to be found. Nor were any other members of the household living there at the time.

Lucy is a single mother with two children to different fathers - Marco and Stella - and a dog, Fitz. She lives hand to mouth in the south of France, sleeping in doorways and under motorway bridges. But life hasn't always been this way. She was once the daughter of a wealthy family and lived in a beautiful mansion in Chelsea with her brother Henry and their parents - Henry and Martina Lamb.

Henry is a budding sociopath, somewhat quirky, and maybe a little crazy. But deep within him is something just a little off. Maybe his brain is wired differently because while he can appear charming and attractive at times there is a darker side of him that you don't want to mess with. And is everything as it appears? Was he a victim of circumstance? Or is there more to the story that he has neglected to share with us? 

Between them - Libby, Lucy and Henry - they are the three voices of this somewhat twisted tale of complexities. In typical dual timeline fashion, the story unravels in the past and present, manipulating the reader in classic Jewell modus operandi. 

Lucy's story is a painful one which she keeps locked firmly in the past but it is clear from the start, that whatever happened within those walls all those years ago, have made a huge impact on the woman she is today. And slowly but surely, through hand to mouth and perseverance, she finally makes it back to England with one goal in mind. The baby is 25. 

Henry is a little different. From the moment David and Sally Thomsen took up residence with Birdie and Justin in their house, along with their children Phineas and Clemency, Henry has felt a burning attraction to Phin, despite being only 11 years old at the time. He is obsessed with him, watches him, emulates him; wants to be like him. And one night, he becomes Phin. But despite his odd tendancies, it is through Henry we see what is really happening at 16 Cheyne Walk. It is through Henry's eyes, you get a real sense of what life was like for the children within that house. And while you may not connect with him, you do feel for him and the others.

When Libby inherits 16 Cheyne Walk, she fully intends to sell it. What does she need with a huge mansion in Chelsea with all those rooms and no one to fill it? But before she does, she wants to know what happened there. She wants to uncover its secrets and learn what truly happened to her parents on that night 24 years ago and what happened to her brothers and sisters. She teams up with Miller Roe, who originally covered a story about the house and what happened within its walls, as they begin their search for the truth. Little did she know, that delving into such secrets would result in uncovering even worse secrets that had been buried even longer than she had been alive. 

Now I had begun reading this book when I had heard it involved animal abuse, and while I can tolerate abuse of almost every other kind, I cannot stomach the abuse, torture or painful deaths of animals in graphic detail - especially dogs. I got five chapters in, had met Fitz the dog, and before long I was envisioning him meeting an untimely torturous end. When I posted my original review on Twitter, tagging and apologising Lisa Jewell, she contacted me and was saddened I felt I couldn't continue the book based on what I had been advised about animal abuse. She then went on to tell me the exact nature of the "animal's demise" and assured me that is as graphic as it was. 

So feeling somewhat relieved after speaking with the author herself, I decided to give it another and picked it up from where I left off. I soon became completely encapsulated within the story and didn't want to leave. And when I did reach the point of the said animal's demise, I found it featured very very briefly in the story - no more than half a dozen lines - and that it wasn't graphic at all, as it was really only mentioned in passing. I was also relieved to discover that Fitz made the journey to England with Lucy and the children, and remained alive and well throughout. I don't believe I am giving away any spoilers when I say that.

Needless to say, I was so glad that I decided to give THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS another go, and boy, was I ever!! The entire tale was enthralling, psychological, twisted and creepy. There are many twisted characters in this book - some of whom you will love to hate! And one of which will remain with me for some time to come for his complete need for control of everyone, whilst reaping everything for himself. He so got under my skin and will remain there for some time to come.

THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS is a creepy and disturbing tale with that ominous and atmospheric feel that encompasses the reader completely. For me, I found that it was a completely different tale than one of which Jewell has delivered in the past.

Lisa Jewell is a master storyteller and her tales are always encapsulating - claustrophobically so - but intriguing. And THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS is no different...except that it feels even more claustrophobic given the direction of the storyline. But don't take my word for it - grab a copy yourself and jump right in! You won't be sorry...

I would like to thank #LisaJewell, #NetGalley and #RandomHouseUK and #Cornerstone for an ARC of #TheFamilyUpstairs in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this book and I really enjoyed it. Once I got with the lay of of bouncing forward and back between characters but what a story and kept u guessing till the very end and I didn't guess it right. Loved it as I love all lisas books
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I generally love Lisa Jewell’s books and have read them all.
This was a complex story with lots of characters and 3 different story’s running through it.
It was very different, quite disturbing in parts.
I did find it a little too much and was losing who was who at one point.
Very different and well written but you need to concentrate
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I want to preface this review with the blurb I read on NetGalley because that really sums up why I was so desperate to read this book. 

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.

I was hooked from this summary alone. But the story is so much more than this.

Told from three perspectives, Libby, Lucy, and Henry slowly build up the details about what happened when Henry's parents opened their doors to near strangers, the burning flame leading to three dead on the kitchen floor and a baby alone upstairs, and the aftermath of dealing with the consequences.

The first thing that struck me about reading this was the change of POVs. Libby and Lucy both have chapters told in third person, whereas Henry's is first person. At first, I found this grating, but I think this was purely down to the fact I don't think I've come across this in fiction before, and it was new and odd to me. As the story progressed, Jewell was able to weave seamlessly between each thread of storyline and each POV to carry you along the story with it.

In terms of plot, I was always second guessing myself. I thought I had it down so many times, and then something else is revealed, or you remember something else, and you're right back at not knowing what is going on. But in a good way. While the very start of the story was confusing because of the jumping POVs and not knowing how the events of each chapter related to the quite vague blurb I posted above, it didn't take long for this story to grab you by the shoulders and submerge you in its mystery.

This was one of those instances where the house became a character in itself. Even though most novels where this occurs, the house is haunted or has some supernatural aspect to it to make it seems more alive. This was different, as it wasn't so much the house as the happenings inside the house. But with so much focus on the house, what took place inside it's walls, the status of the street, the way it brought those families together, it has a personality of its own which brings alive the plot. 

I really loved this book. I was always looking forward to being able to sit down and read it again, and now that it's over, it has one of those endings where balls don't stop rolling until the very last page, where you have no time to process everything when suddenly the book is over and you're thinking about it for days afterwards.

A superbly thrilling book and now I'm off to research Lisa Jewell's back catalogue! Bye!
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 
I’ve heard such good things about The Family Upstairs so wad really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. This was a page-turning read that I couldn’t put down. It follows three different strands of narrative:
* Libby has turned 25-years old and inherited a house that’s been held in a trust until she came of age. Along with the house she discovers that her biological parents died in a suicide pact with a cult leader while she was a baby, and the children in the house disappeared. 
* Meanwhile in France you have Lucy with two young children and a dog struggling to make ends meet.
* Flashback to the 80s where we meet Henry and learn what happened in the house.
This was a pacy read and I couldn’t stop turning the pages eager to see how these different narratives will meet. It was well written, grounded in a strong sense of place and time. Each narrative arc had its own distinctive atmosphere to it from the cobbled grittier streets of France to burgundy imbued 80s Chelsea. My only complaint is I personally felt the ending was quiet for my taste and I had a few questions about a particular character’s action which felt unresolved to me. Nonetheless this was a highly enjoyable read. 
This is my first Lisa Jewel book but I’m definitely going to check out the rest of her books. 4/5
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An engrossing, original and sinister psychological thriller


On her 25th birthday, Libby Jones discovers she has inherited a vast dilapidated mansion in Chelsea. It has been handed down to her by her birth parents, the wealthy Henry and Martina Lamb, who passed away in the very same house when she was just a baby. Intrigued by the bizarre events that seemed to surround her parents’ deaths, Libby sets out to investigate her past and finds herself uncovering dark and disturbing secrets about what happened all those years ago. Meanwhile, the children who were in the house at the time of the Lambs’ deaths are all grown up but still haunted by the memories of the charismatic strangers that their parents let into the Chelsea house and how they slowly began to take control of the lives of everyone in it.


This was a carefully crafted and twist-packed thriller told from three separate and alternating POVs – Libby’s and the two Lamb children Henry and Lucy. Through mostly Henry’s account, we learn about how his parents welcomed the enigmatic David and his family into their home as a guest, but how slowly and insidiously he began to take control of everything and everyone under their roof. Several years later, we follow Libby as she searches for information about her parents and Lucy, who is running with her two children from problems of her own. The characters are all individual and believable, and the writing is engrossing, with all three stories eventually converging together in the future to reveal the shocking truth of what happened to the Lamb family and how Libby fits into it all.


While the present-day parts of the novel were entertaining and readable, Henry's account was definitely the best part of the book and what made it stand out from other similar thrillers. The story of how his parents and eventually his entire family were controlled by the compelling David was deliciously unnerving, and yet terrifyingly believable, as it all happened so gradually that no one could do anything to stop it until it was too late. The sinister characters of David and his creepy friend Birdie were brilliantly written, and the atmosphere of fear and isolation was constructed masterfully. The situation that the Lamb family ended up in played on my mind long after I’d finished the book, to the point where I felt it could’ve stood up as a story on its own without the need for the present-day sections.


I only had a few issues with this story - initially, the different POVs from the three leading storytellers were a little confusing, and it takes a few chapters to get your head around who's who. I also found the ending a little anti-climatic, although it did still deliver in terms of twists, and the romantic subplot felt a bit forced and unnecessary.


In conclusion, this was a highly enjoyable psychological thriller by a very talented author. I would certainly not be averse to reading more stories like this one.


Daenerys


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of this book to review.
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Wow, just wow. Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite authors ever, all her books delight. This, in my opinion is her best work yet. This had me addicted from start to finish, desperate for each word and turn of the page (well, press of the Kindle). An absolutely phenomenal book that you must grab and read. 

The plot is unique and fascinating, intriguing, at times dark, shocking and disturbed. From the very beginning it begins to pull you in and doesn't let go until the last page. I was totally engaged and could not read this one fast enough. The characters are exceptionally good, written so powerfully and all very clear and individual. I could picture each person, hear their voices, visualise their actions. All the characters will instill an opinion and emotion in you, dislike, hatred, love, pity, like or disgust, at times a moving carousel of all of these. 

Take one big house and toss in a bunch of dysfunctional and entwined people and you have a melting pot of outcomes and events that make for totally addictive reading. This book HAS to come to the big screen. 

Honestly, I can't rave enough. It's brilliantly written as is all of her work, it's just a damn good book. Do not hesitate on this one if you are looking for something to sink your teeth into or read in one sitting. Exceptional.
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Following three separate characters covering present day and the back story, this is a very well-weaved and dark family drama.

On her 25th birthday, Libby finds out that she has been left a huge, dilapidated mansion worth millions. After being led to believe that her parents being killed in a car accident led to her adoption, this just the start of the very dark tale that Libby uncovers around the house and her 'family'.

Using Libby's and the other perspectives, the story gradually comes together and you find out what happened in the house and to the occupants. 
It took some time to get going and with lots of characters to keep track of, could get a bit confusing at times, but all in all a good solid read thst I would recommend to fans of Lisa Jewell and dark family dramas.
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Libby Jones is celebrating her 25th birthday when she receives a letter from her solicitor, she knows it's regarding a trust that was set up for her when she was a baby, what she doesn't realise is how monumentally life changing opening this letter will be for her. The letter invites Libby to her solicitors office, where she learns that she has inherited a mansion left to her by her deceased parents, this mansion is in Chelsea, one of the most lucrative areas of London, and is solely Libby's as her siblings have failed to come forward. She soon discovers that sinister things happened in this house when she was a baby and she's determined to uncover the truth of what went on behind the doors of 16 Cheyne Walk. Lucy is a single mother of two children living in France, struggling to make ends meet and worrying where they will sleep tonight. One thing she is sure of is that she has to get back to London and she will do anything in her power to get there. What isn't clear at this point in the book is how these two women's lives are so inextricably linked.

The story is told from the points of view of Libby, Lucy and Henry and covers the present day and their childhood, and Lisa Jewell spares no detail when she explains the horrific things that went on in that house 25 years ago, some made me cry, other parts left me gasping for air, with twist after twist thrown in for good measure. It's a tale of secrets, lies and much more. I've read a couple of other books by this author and they just keep getting better. I recommend this book to anyone that loves an edge of your seat, roller coaster ride thriller.

I'd like to thank Random House UK, Cornerstone Digital and Netgalley for the approval. I will post my review on Amazon and Goodreads
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Complex, damaged characters, a terrible tragedy, an innocent survivor, and a house full of secrets. Told from three points of view, the dark and suspenseful family drama is painstakingly revealed, through the eyes of the people who were there.

The relentless plot conceals as much as it reveals, evil is an undercurrent of this story, but it’s also about weakness, survival and emotional damage.

The contemporary, urban setting gives the plot its authenticity. In the current culture of child abuse scandals, the terrible events explored, and their outcome, seem credible and are all the more chilling because of this.

The story has a transparency that I didn’t expect. You can unpick what happened through the three narratives, and I did manage to unravel most of it, but you are never sure if the protagonists are reliable. They are emotionally damaged children, victims of abusive treatment.

The characters are well written, you do empathise with them, and dislike those who should have been taking care of them.

‘The Family Upstairs’ is a noir family drama, with a realistic contemporary setting and layers of suspense and emotional angst, that make you believe that it could really happen, in a world where no one looks too deeply into the inhabitants and events of the house next door.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell is a brilliantly written and compelling page turner of a book.

When Libby Turner turns 25 she inherits a house. Not just any house. A huge eight bedroom house in Chelsea. She was adopted as a baby after her birth parents died in a car crash, well, so she thinks – in fact the truth is far darker than that. The house has stood empty for the past quarter of a century, ever since three decomposing bodies were found in the kitchen and a baby was found alive and well in an upstairs room.

Libby discovers that her parents were George and Martina Lamb, a wealthy and glamorous couple who were the toast of London. They dropped out of society and years later were found dead on the kitchen floor alongside a third, unidentified man. What exactly happened in that house? And who was the man?

Told in multi person narrative from the perspective of Libby, Lucy – a woman living in France with her two young children struggling to make ends meet and a third protagonist Henry, we are propelled back in time to the events that took place 25 year ago. I love a multi-person narrative and a flashback, especially when they are done as well as this. Every chapter reveals a new question and a new puzzle to solve. I had no idea where it was going, how the characters fit together and what had happened which made it such a fun book to read.

As the book progresses and the secrets begin to be uncovered the subject matter becomes darker. It is a psychological thriller which deals with the darkness of human nature and is quietly terrifying at times. Lisa Jewell takes her characters to the brink, breaking down their psyche to examine what happens to a person when the unthinkable happens.

I know I am being cloak and dagger about the book and not really explaining much about the plot, but that is for the best, believe me. I knew very little about The Family Upstairs before reading it which meant that every twist, every turn, every OMG moment was a pleasure. It is very readable and moreish and is a book written by an author at the very top of her game.

If psychological thrillers are your thing then give The Family Upstairs a read. Clever, immersive and thrilling, what more do you want?
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In ‘The Family Upstairs’ Lisa Jewell has written a deliciously dark and horrifying psychological thriller full of twists and unreliable narrators. I spent large parts of the novel not knowing fully who the characters were and what exactly was happening or where we were going. And it was great.

When Libby turns 25 she inherits a multi-million pound house in London’s affluent Chelsea. She is also told the story of how, as a baby, she was found in the house with the dead bodies of her parents and an unknown man, seemingly cult members, who appeared to have taken their own lives in a suicide pact. Libby discovers that she had siblings, a brother and sister, but no trace of them has been found since.

Meanwhile, in Nice, a down on her luck mother of two, struggling to survive, receives a message that ‘the baby is 25’ and begins to make plans to travel back to London. A first person narrative reveals the story of what happened in the house in the 1980s. There were in fact four children and six adults living in the house in what can only be described as a very non-traditional unit.

Lisa Jewell skilfully and thrillingly weaves these narratives together and we gradually discover what happened in the Chelsea house a quarter of a century ago and the fates of the people who were living in the house. It is a breathless ride, the pages fly by and the shocks keep coming. At no time did I feel that I was being cheated - the reveals arise naturally from the narrative, both in Libby’s investigation into her family history, and in the ‘as it happened’ first person narrative. Highly recommended.
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The Family Upstairs is a compulsive read and a stunningly gripping, darkly gothic style tale, encompassing different timelines and written from several different perspectives. Tension and threat loom as large as the gloomy mansion house itself, where most of the action and drama take place. 

On turning 25, Libby discovers, much to her surprise, that she has inherited 16 Cheyne Walk, a veritable pile of a place in Chelsea. And a building where the Lamb family’s normal life became severely disrupted by the controlling actions of strangers they invited into their home, and who succeeded in having a cultish hold over them.

Libby finds out that her real name is Serenity. She is the left behind 10 month old child of the Lamb parents who appear to have committed suicide and left a note to alert those who found them to her presence. The house is meant to be shared equally between Libby and her missing teenage siblings. They were nowhere to be found when she was discovered, left alone, seemingly cared for but abandoned in her cot.

Her first visit to her new home causes Libby to sense that something dreadful took place within its four walls. It's atmosphere is sinister, dark and disturbing. She spots signs that someone might have broken in and wonders who it might have been. The parallel accounts of her siblings, Henry and Lucy, help bring clarity, tie up the loose ends and add a satisfactory conclusion to the narrative. 

This is one of Lisa Jewell’s finest works. It’s a pacey thriller, thrumming with menace and an intriguing storyline. The heavy topics of physical and sexual abuse are delivered with the lightest of touches. It kept me gripped right from the start, and it did not disappoint when the denouement came. This book is a clever combination of pathos, human warmth and the overcoming power of love, mingled with psychological terror and shock.
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Whenever I read a Lisa Jewell book I think about how I’ve ‘grown up’ with her – she was writing about the carefree 20s lifestyle of dating, partying and flatsharing when I was doing the same thing, and then we both graduated to the world of work and families. A few books ago she took a change of tack and entered the busy (some might say over-saturated) psychological thriller market and I wasn’t sure at first as her books didn’t really stand out for me, but with this latest one she is really back at the top of her game.

The Family Upstairs is a taut and compelling tale. It features 25 year old Libby Jones who lives a safe and orderly life, working in high-end kitchen sales and putting a tentative toe into the dating market. Libby always knew she was adopted, but her flighty adoptive mother (currently living in Spain with her toyboy) gave her scant details about her background so it comes as a huge shock when Libby finds out on her 25th birthday that she has inherited a house in Chelsea worth millions of pounds,

The house is a wreck, having lain empty since three people, members of a mysterious cult, died there 25 years ago. Two of them were Libby’s birth parents and baby Libby was the only person in the house when the authorities entered, four teenage children belonging to the dead adults having disappeared, never to be heard of since.

As the mystery of her roots unfolds, Libby enlists the help of a journalist who is fascinated by the events that took place at Cheyne Walk, and is equally keen to find out what really happened there, as well as the whereabouts of the missing residents. Although the story is told from several points of view (including those of bohemian runaway mother Lucy and a very strange but utterly fascinating young man named Henry) and over a number of timelines, it’s cleverly written and never becomes confusing or loses its way. I loved it.
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