Cover Image: Other People's Houses

Other People's Houses

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Member Reviews

I was so pleasantly surprised by this Australian thriller! Well, maybe "pleasant" isn't the right word, because this is a story shrouded in grief and desperation.

Katie has had her life ripped apart by an unthinkable tragedy, the details of which are hinted at fairly early in the story, but are only gradually revealed. In an attempt to feel some sort of skewed peace, or closure, or indeed a form of grievous self-torture, she obsessively visits open homes, taking a small momento from each one. But when the aspirational Harding house comes up for sale, Katie finds herself drawn into an all-consuming domestic mystery.

I found this book gripping, intense, horrifically tragic, but so, so readable. Katie is, despite everything, despite wanting to simultaneously comfort and punch her, a likeable character. There were surprising moments where I laughed out loud at some of her thoughts and actions. Most of the other characters are less likeable - AND GUYS, I PICKED THE MURDERER FOR ONCE! I mean, it was pretty strongly hinted at, but still.

Definitely recommend this if you're after a quick-read thriller, or working on reading more Aussie authors
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This novel had my full attention from the first page and I found it impossible to put down. Since a devastating act of violence ruined her life, Kate started going to open houses to picture the perfect families that lived there. On the 10th anniversary of her life being torn apart, Kate becomes obsessed with the Harding house and the family that live there to the point where she endangers her own life and others. With so many twists and turns and a protagonist that you feel sorry for but also want to shout at, this was an amazing read and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
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Set in Sydney in the present time. Kate Webb is suffering from grief over the loss of her son. She lives on her own and is continually drinking to dull her senses. Kate works for a real estate agency in marketing. On her days off Kate visits open houses so she can see the way normal families live. At each house she visits Kate likes to take a small item as a souvenir, something little of no value often found crumpled behind cupboards or under beds. Shopping lists, receipts, small toys or even a pebble from the garden. Anything that can remind her of how happy normal family live.
Kate finds a house that is just perfect and keeps going back to attend open house visits or just sits outside watching the house and the people who live there.
This was about grief, family relationships, stalking and obsessive compulsive disorder.
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Kate visits open homes and steals things. Not valuable things, but tiny personal items, things that can be slipped into a pocket. She takes them home and tucks them away in boxes, and drinks to try and forget all the pain in her past. Kate is a mess, for reasons that are gradually revealed to the reader, and some parts of this story are almost painful to read, as Kate appears to destroy the remaining good things in her life.

Part of the story revolves around the Harding house, an open house Kate attends and is irresistibly drawn to, as she becomes embroiled in the dramas bubbling away beneath the shiny open-home surface. The other is Kate's own history, the personal tragedy that placed her where she is today - and the path she might be able to take to start to heal. This is a solid Australian thriller and mystery, a very enjoyable read.
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The premise and cover of Other People's Houses really intrigued me from the get go. 

The novel is told from Kate's point of view as it jumps between current day and her life before her son dies, which is a format I like for thrillers as you learn more about where Kate is coming from as the book progresses. As we learn more about Kate, we learn more about the tragedy surrounding her sons death as well as a new tragedy that Kate finds herself involved in after attending open homes every weekend in a drunken state as a way of copying with her sons death.

Kate's character is very interesting as she goes off the rails after what has happened in her past and as she struggles to live a functional life. You want so much for her to be OK, yet is she frustrating at the same time because you know what she is doing is just destructive towards herself. 

I found the first half of this book a bit slow, but the second half was much better and had me more hooked on wanting to find out what was going to happen.

Unfortunately, I did guess the main twists in the book, however some little twists did take me by surprise!
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I don’t know about you, but I find open homes to be an insight into how people live - how they decorate, how they use the space they have and so on - admittedly I only go through them when I am in the market, but the premise of this debut novel isn’t out of reach! Inititially, at least!

Other People’s Houses by Kelli Hawkins

How perfect are the lives of others? Kate lost her son ten years ago, and now spends her weekends attending open houses on Sydney’s north shore, and wondering about the lives of those living in the big houses. When Kate visits the Harding’s house, she recognises a perfect house, and imagines a perfect family. The photograph in the house shows a lovely looking man, a women she knew at university and a boy that she pictures as her son, initially. Soon she is obsessed with the Harding family, but uncovering their perfect life leads to danger. For whom?

A great Australian based debut psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages! - plenty of twists! Looking forward to reading more from this author. Thanks NetGalley and Harper Collins for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review

#OtherPeoplesHouses #bookstagram #NetGalley @kellihawkinswriter @harpercollinsaustralia
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Other People’s Houses is the debut novel by Kelli Hawkins and is a cracking read. A tale of grief, guilt and obsession, this is a story that will have you flicking the pages well into the night. 

The striking cover of this book immediately grabbed my attention and it’s premise had me completely intrigued. It is a unique story with an unreliable narrator at the forefront which are my favourite kind. I also loved its setting in Sydney and it was a refreshing change to read a book set in Australia. 

The story is told from Kate’s point of view, an alcoholic who’s grief just consumes her. At times it can be quite hard and overwhelming to read and your heart just breaks for her. There were many times I just wanted to reach into the book to give her a hug. 

Other People’s Houses is a very well written and executed tale that will have you still thinking about long after you have read it. A fast paced and gripping read I throughly enjoyed this book. Kelli Hawkins is definitely one to watch and I look forward to reading what she comes up with next. 

Thank you to Kelli Hawkins, Harper Collins Australia and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of Other People’s Houses, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
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The Perfect family? …… a mystery/domestic crime thriller set in Sydney, Australia. An impressive debut novel!

A twisted obsession with Open House Inspections leads to tragedy. Sydney's elegant and wealthy North Shore is brought to life in the pages of this debut novel Other People's Houses by Kelli Hawkins.

Our Protagonist Kate Webb is a damaged soul, she has endured the shocking loss of her young son Sacha ten years earlier. She can’t put the past behind her and copes by drinking until she passes out, attending open houses every weekend and wondering about the lives of the people that live there. 

Kate overhears the agent mentioning an exclusive listing ‘The Harding House’, as she walks through she sneaks a look at the perfect family. In the bedside drawer a photo of a man and woman and there’s a boy…… for one frozen and confused moment she thinks it’s her son. The photo ignites a dark obsession in her mind with the house and the family. She is soon caught up in a dangerous web of lies, secrets and danger.

Kate is a dreadful mess but you can’t help but hope things will get better for her. Her addiction is relentless and you wonder how further can she fall.

The story was so intriguing, I found it a real page turner with a clever storyline. I will be keeping an eye out for the next novel by this author.
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Other People’s Houses by Kelli Hawkins is an incredible debut novel!

The story is carefully constructed to hold your attention as you’re drawn into the world of Kate - an alcoholic struggling with her life. Her life is filled with sadness and she distances herself from friends and family while submerging herself into self pity for her loses and inability to cope. Her obsession with open houses and collecting mementoes becomes her way of coping.

	“Walking around inside a family’s home was special. Seeing their home, and taking 			
         something small to remember it by, gave me the gift of belonging. Just for a little while.”

Kate finally finds THE house that is perfect and what she believes is the perfect family too. The Harding House. Her obsession is now only on this house and family. This obsession leads the story into more complicated twists and turns. 

Kelli Hawkins has a great writing style that uses a combination of sentence lengths for dramatic effect and to hold the reader’s attention. The writing is easy to read and the story unfolds through past and present chapters where we learn from Kate’s inner and at times twisted thoughts about what has happened and is happening.

There are certainly similarities with The Woman in the Window especially the unexpected turn of events. Once again the ending took me by surprise.

Highly recommended read.

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for a copy to read and review.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not sure what I was expecting, or if it would be more of the same, so to speak but I found it refreshingly different.
10yrs after a significant event in Kate’s life, she is still teetering on the edge. An alcoholic who spends her weekends attending house opens makes for a sad life. She becomes fixated on a family after attending their house inspection in the elite part of Sydney but what events does she inadvertently set off?
Despite Kate’s current issues I really liked her, even though I was cringing at some of her choice of actions.
Her backstory slowly unfolds with past and present chapters, so we can understand her thoughts and actions. I actually think it’s good to go into this story with little knowledge of the storyline. I believe I enjoyed this more as I had no knowledge of this new author or expectations.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy to review.
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Other People's Houses by by Kelli Hawkins is an intriguing and bittersweet tale of loss, grief and obsession. It could be akin to breakdown porn as readers get a front-row seat to the disintegration of someone's mental health. However Hawkins handles lead character Kate with respect and sensitivity. This book is being compared to Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train and I suspect it's due to the similarities between Kate and TGOTT's Rachel. Not only are both heavy drinkers, but they indulge in risky and obsessive behaviour... even though they know better. Both authors however, treat their leads sympathetically.

We know Kate's son is dead and (I think) we can guess what happened, but we need to let it play out and for Hawkins to drip feed the details as the narrative unfolds - and in line with Kate's spiralling mental health.

In her mid 40s, Kate is barely functioning. She's holding down a job but drinks almost anything she can get her hands on to get her through the night. Each day she thinks she'll make changes, but she can't. She's stuck in a holding pattern and cannot move on. And - in reality - she doesn't want to.

She's found solace however in going to open homes and imagining herself and her son there, living vicariously through those she sees in pictures on walls and trinkets/signs-of-life that are left lying around.

The Harding house is her dream house, so she's already obsessed before she realises she knows the owner and their son is the same age hers would be, had he lived.

When Kate discovers the Harding household isn't as happy as she'd believed she wants to make things better. And yes, the less-traumatised and more-sane of us realise this isn't going to end well. For her it's all about 'saving' the family unit.

But she goes too far and just keeps going.

Her actions here are like the proverbial car crash. We can see what's coming but are (of course) powerless to do anything. At times it almost feels impossible that Kate herself can't see the mistakes she's making - and sometimes she does. But often too late.

This book takes a turn when some of our players die and Kate's an obvious suspect. She knows - or at least believes - she's innocent so wants to solve the mystery herself... at any cost, to protect the boy her son could have been.

I loved this book by Hawkins. Kate is an engaging lead though obviously frustrating. It's impossible however not to feel terribly sad for her. 

I really liked Hawkins' writing. Her prose is smart and snarky. 

I very much enjoyed the family dynamics playing in the background and involving Kate and her sister and her parents. I could easily place myself in both positions: understanding Kate's defensiveness and desire to alienate herself; and the frustration of those around her, wanting to support but not condone her attitude and actions.

And of course there is the obvious reminder that we (often) have no idea what's happening in the lives of others. That the way things look from the outside could be far different to reality. 

This is Hawkins' debut adult novel and an excellent read. I'm already looking forward to what comes next.
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Hawkins’s debut is, on the blurb, compared to Woman in the Window and Girl on the Train and, for once, I must agree. There are a lot of similarities between the leads of those two books and Kate, the [perhaps unreliable] narrator of Other People’s Houses.

Kate is more than a bit of a mess. She’s an alcoholic. She works in a mind numbing job. She spends her spare time going to open houses where she fantasises not just about living in these houses but being part of the families of the current inhabitants. While attending one of the open houses, however, Kate witnesses something that makes her get far too involved in the personal lives of the house’s owners. And while Kate thinks it’s her duty to assist the family, the reader realises Kate is setting herself up to become the police's prime suspect for a murder, or the killer's next victim.

As the story progresses, we get to learn about Kate’s past in a series of ‘before’ chapters which, obviously, explains why Kate has spiralled into self loathing mode. I did like this part but, I will admit, at times I wanted more details and a bit more build up to the event which broke Kate.

I find a lot of books in this genre, especially those written in the first person, are pretty lacking when it comes to descriptive passages. Hawkins, however, shines here. I was viewing the palatial North Shore Sydney homes along with Kate, driving in her brothel of a car, waking up disoriented and hungover. Actually, overall, the writing is much better than the aforementioned Woman in the Window (which gets the award for most overhyped book ever). Her dialogue isn’t clunky and she never relied on the dreaded info dumps.

I still wanted more though. I felt that the climactic scenes were too short and I never felt quite as tense as I should. I also thought the twist was pretty obvious and kept waiting for something else which never eventuated. There were also a few plot holes. Why would a police officer called in to settle a pub fight be the same police officer investigating a murder, for example? Only the one copper in Sydney apparently…

Overall though, it was a pretty strong debut and a good fast paced read. If you’re a fan of domestic thrillers, I recommend giving it a go.

4 out of 5
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Other People’s Houses captured my interest from the page sentence, and it continued to captivate me until I finished the entire book, 3 hours later. 

Other People’s Houses follows the story of Kate who spends her Saturdays inspecting beautiful family homes on the North Shore. It is evident from the get-go she cannot afford these houses, and the reason for her interest in them is revealed slowly throughout the book. I loved how I recognised all the suburbs mentioned in the book (Yay for Aussie authors and books set in Sydney), and honestly if I had the money I would go to inspections for the houses/mansions on the Upper North Shore too 😊 For now though, I was happy to just live vicariously through the book!

Kate is a poor broken soul which spends her nights drinking and waking up every morning hungover. We eventually find out exactly what happened to her son 10 years ago, and it was truly heartbreaking. Kate’s trauma leads her to do some illegal and terrifyingly obsessive things which I was very uncomfortable with (imagining it happening in my own backyard makes me shudder!) Whilst I guessed who the perpetrator was when everything went down, I still enjoyed the ride this thriller took me on. I’ve learned to stick to my instincts, but it was great going through the “what-if” scenarios and wondering for a second that maybe someone else committed the crime.

Overall, this book is an outstanding debut thriller and I can’t wait for more from Kelli Hawkins. It has been dubbed “…for all fans of The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train” but I certainly enjoyed Other People’s Houses more than the other two!
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Admit it! We all dream about living in a fancy house and wonder what the life of its occupants to be. Well, put that premise on steroids by mixing in a mystery thriller and you have a super crime debut from Kelli that kept me turning the pages to the very end. 

‘The front door loomed, with all its promises. Promises of lives lived, of children growing and grown, of nightly dinners around a kitchen table. Of scuff marks on walls and broken light fittings and empty picture hooks. Everyday stuff. Family life.’

Set in Sydney, the plot follows Kate each weekend as she trudges around to open homes often ‘lifting’ a small memento from each. Kate is suffering terribly after the ‘tragic accident’ that occured ten years previous with the death of her then five year old son, Sascha. With one particular home, she becomes obsessed not only with the house but also the people and the seemingly perfect lives of the father, mother and son. It could have been her. Should have been her. What she does find upon further investigation, however, upsets her and sets her on a path of no return. There are flashback chapters that slowly deliver the life Kate led before the accident and puzzle pieces that Kelli invites you to move around in your minds eye. 

‘Entering that house, I’d  experienced an actual burst of real happiness for the first time since Sascha died. There was something about it that was so open and welcoming I immediately pictured what it might have been like to live there. What my life might have been.’

In many ways Kate was a difficult character to like despite the tragedy she had to endure. Everything from her alcoholism to irrational actions - often driven by drink - could leave the reader perplexed. I found myself questioning the state of her overall health, for example, if her drinking and bad diet had been that prolific for ten years - yet I suspended it all in favour of a mystery that engaged me and challenged me to read to the very end in an afternoon. You will, of course, have your suspicions, yet Kelli delivers a writing style with a plot full of twists and turns that you cannot help but rush to find out exactly how things will end up with Kate’s obsessive behaviour. I definitely recommend reading Other People’s Houses for lovers of this genre. 

‘People make mistakes, Kate. We forgive them. We move on with our lives.’  ‘You make it sound so simple.’  ‘It is. Look, I’m not saying it’s not hard. It’s bloody hard. But we make choices. The people in your life are in it because they want to be. It’s that simple.’ 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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This was a great read. Kept me intrigued and guessing where it was going the whole time. This was gripping and totally gave me the woman on the train vibes. The pace was great and the story was compelling,
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”Other People’s Houses”, a superb, page-turning thriller debut novel by @kellihawkinswriter is a morbid, enthralling and twisted tale of obsession and grief which will leave you thinking “whodunnit” until it’s dramatic and unpredictable conclusion.

This book is extremely sad and difficult to read at times yet the melancholy nuances of the novel are perfectly balanced with deftly plotted story lines, suspense and intriguing characters.

Hawkins’ writing style is fast-paced, beautifully written and emotionally engaging. There were times where I felt dread, revulsion, anxiety, sympathy and excitement; here lies Hawkins’ literary talent- her ability to create compelling tales and to invoke a myriad of extreme emotions in the reader.

This is a truly unputdownable noir thriller reminiscent of “Girl on a Train” and Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an exciting and suspenseful reading experience.
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Wow what an amazing ride this was - I absolutely loved it!! I struggled to put this one down as I was completely captivated by the main character Katie and her back story and there were so many twists and turns that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! Another brilliant thriller written by a great debut Australian author that you NEED to add to your #tbrlist!
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‘I pulled over just in time.’

Ten years ago, Kate Webb lost her five-year-old son Sascha. For ten years, Kate has been marking time, taking refuge in alcohol, searching. She is held together, sort of, by her job and by attending open houses on Sydney’s north shore. In those homes, prepared for sale, Kate can imagine the lives of complete, happy families that live there. Then one afternoon, hungover, Kate visits the Harding house. It is a beautiful house, occupied by a husband, wife, and their teenaged son. Kate sees a family photograph: a husband, wife and son and thinks, for one heartbreaking moment, that the boy is her son. Kate recognises the wife: she and Kate were at university at the same time.

Curiosity turns to obsession. And Kate’s obsession uncovers that life for this family is not perfect. As Kate starts to intervene in the life of this family, we learn more about her life and the death of her son. His death was a heartbreaking tragedy: can Kate prevent something similar for this family? And, importantly, can Kate make a new life for herself?

To write more about this story could spoil the impact of it. There were a couple of twists I didn’t anticipate, and one I did.  I kept reading, wanting to know how it would end and hoping Kate would find renewed purpose.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.  

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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@kellihawkinswriter’s debut novel ‘Other People’s Houses’ was not what I expected. And a I read it, it continued to be not what I expected.  This isn’t any ordinary run-of-the-mill thriller set in the leafy suburbs of Sydney. What starts out is a weird voyeuristic obsession of attending open houses that morphs into Kate’s own sad history, the discovery of connections she was not aware of, and getting caught in the middle of something that isn’t clear until the very end.  The suspense is built really well, and the love-hate relationship for Kate makes her so much more real. The detail of Kate’s low moments is gruesome and gross and speaks to her desperation. The other characters are really secondary to the story; they have a purpose but Hawkins has kept them out of the limelight so we can get a better picture of Kate, including Tammy and her Chanel, wafting through the open houses. They all linger, connected to Kate as she finally comes through the other side and the puzzle pieces are matched together.
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This was a gripping soft psychological thriller. It kept me guessing and turning the pages late across two nights. It’s fast-paced and intriguing. 

At first I wondered why the herck does Kate visit other people’s houses!? And although it wasn’t spelled out by the end, I just got it.

There was a twist I didn't see coming and when it arrived I couldn’t read fast enough. 

The main character wasn’t particularly likeable at first but wow was she real and as the story unfolded I found myself rooting for her and hoping she would find her new place in life.

This book has The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train vibes, if you liked them you should pick this up. 

I would definitely read another book by Kelli Hawkins. 

Thank you NetGalley, HarperCollins Au and Kelli Hawkins for this ARC.
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