Cover Image: Beneath the Stairs

Beneath the Stairs

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I wanted to be spooked and I got it! This is one of the best thrillers I have read lately. I will most definitely look back for Fawcett’s work!!

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed this book, but had a really hard time keeping my attention focused on it. My interest just wasn't strong enough.
The story could have been so much more if the author had dug into the "strays" who went missing, but I liked the characters, for the most part. My favorite aspect was the reestablishment of the friendship between Clare and Lori. It seems to me that this alone led to more character growth for Clare than anything else that happened in the story.
The book itself is eerie, but not really creepy or scary in any way. I would consider reading more by this author.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this impressive debut novel. I love the elements that Fawcett weaves together to make a realistic - and spine-tinglingly spooky read! Clare is a young woman with baggage - but the book opens with her return to her childhood home in the wake of her childhood best friend being in the hospital. The book revolves around the Octagon House - a strange structure built in the woods - a cursed property. When young teens, Clare and Abby go to the house - along with two other friends, Lori and Monica - on a dare to explore the abandoned house. But something happens in the basement... leaving a lingering presence on both Clare and Abby's life.

With an eerie atmosphere and plenty of creepy imagery, the book also develops the characters well. It examines their grief, coping mechanisms and relationships. There are multiple narrators here - plus the book gives the dark history of the Octagon House. The sections from Clare's adolescence shine strongly here, too. Fawcett really captures these scenes really well. I think that readers who are fans of Jennifer McMahon's books will be equally captivated by this one - I know I certainly was! It's an impressive debut and I am excited to see what Fawcett will write next! Such a great read!

Was this review helpful?

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Clare left her small hometown of Sumner's Mills, in upstate New York, behind many years ago. And it wasn't that she just left, she ran. After a chilling incident occurred one summer when she was just 14-years old, the town lost its sense of comfort for her. She couldn't wait to get out of there.

It seems a silly thing, tweens exploring a haunted house, but after that day, Clare and her best friend, Abby, were never the same. In fact, the incident was so traumatic, Abby's entire personality seemed to changed. Her parents moved the entire family from town to try to escape it. It was really a formative experience in Clare's life.

The girls eventually lost contact after Abby's move. That's why Clare is particularly surprised when Abby's mom reaches out to her twenty years later and asks her to return to Sumner's Mills. Abby, whose mental health has continued to be a challenge for her, is in the hospital, in a coma after an apparent overdose. She had returned to the haunted house.

Having just ended her long-term relationship, Clare is looking for an escape anyway. She decides she will head back to Sumner's Mills, lick her wounds for a bit and try to discover what could have possibly possessed Abby to go back to that house.

Once back in her childhood home, Clare is reacquainted with old friends and begins a deep dive into the history of the haunted house, known in town as the Octagon House for its peculiar shape.

Beneath the Stairs uses both past and present perspectives to weave together this truly haunting tale. I always enjoy that narrative format, so was excited to see it here. This book is definitely a slow burn, and while there's a lot going on, I feel like Fawcett did a great job weaving it all together in a way that felt fluid.

I enjoyed getting to know Clare as a character. She was strong-willed and pretty fearless. It is clear she had built walls up around herself after her childhood trauma. I felt for her. She was alone, both mentally and physically, through a lot of her struggles.

Over the course of the story, Clare comes into contact with a man who was sort of a first love for her. I was completely invested in the exploration of that relationship. I thought it was extremely realistic and very well done.

My only slight critiques for this story would be that it is quite slow, eventually toeing drawn-out territory. Also, towards the end, a few situations didn't quite make sense to me. I was left with questions. Overall though, this is a fun read. I am still thinking about it weeks later, so that's always a good sign.

I loved the, is it supernatural, is it not supernatural feel; generally an element I will look for when picking up haunting Thrillers. Fawcett definitely delivered those vibes; something I hope she continues to bring with future works.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I enjoyed this a lot and look forward to picking up more from Jennifer Fawcett!

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed it on audio! It was very easy to follow and kept me glued to it. I couldn’t stop listening to it. The narrator did a great job of making me feel the story.

I liked the story involving the haunted house and spookiness, as well as the mystery in and the dual time line.

This one released yesterday so if you like spooky mysteries pick it up!

Was this review helpful?

Beneath the Stairs is creepy, in all the best ways. I was in the mood for a good ghost story, and I found it! Every detail is perfect, from the scary haunted house to to the frail old woman that owns it. Of course it's in the middle of nowhere, making it the perfect setting, and only certain people are affected by the strange happenings in the basement. It is so well written, and most of the answers are revealed, but without it being too "Scooby-Doo". In short, I loved it!

Was this review helpful?


This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2022 and I’m sad to say I didn’t love it as much as I hoped.
It’s a very typical haunted house storyline and pretty predictable. It’s a plot I’ve seen many times that doesn’t really add anything new or unique to the mix.
The first half was a little too slow for my liking and I couldn’t seem to get sucked in by any of the characters or the plot.
The second half is much better, but still predictable.
I wish I had liked this more than I did, but it’s just not what I expected.
I will say the ending is very nice and satisfying.

Was this review helpful?

Octagon House has a dark past. The original family that lived there met a horrible violent end. Now it sits empty. Venturing into this house ends up being a traumatic experience for Clare and Abby. Twenty years later, Abby is in a coma after going back into the house. Abby comes back to be with her friend and find out why she she would go back to Octagon House.

I really enjoyed the mix of thriller and horror elements. This was an engaging story with interesting characters that had just enough of the spooky atmosphere that I love. I really enjoyed learning more about the main characters lives as teens and adults as well as the history of the haunted house. This is a great story of overcoming fear and trauma. The house scenes felt very claustrophobic in the best creepy way. If you are looking for a thriller with some horror elements I would recommend giving Beneath the Stairs a read.

TW: This story deals with very serious topics such as miscarriage, attempted suicide, and mental illness.

Was this review helpful?

The idea of this plot was great but I had such a difficult time getting into it. The main story lined seemed to be bogged down. The book could have been a bit shorter as the story seemed to drag on.

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own and do not reflect any stance or position held by the author or publisher. This did not affect my rating or review in any way.

Was this review helpful?

Unfortunately this was really disappointing, the story was so repetitive and I found myself really bored. I mostly skimmed till I got to the end and I wish I would’ve just DNF’d it.

Was this review helpful?

Special thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

This book is about spooky house deep in the woods. The atmosphere was really creepy and it was about two women who come back to the house 20 years later, where murders happened and a suicide attempt.. But, somewhere the story got bogged down and thrown all over the place, it could have been shortened and left a lot of loose threads hanging. I wanted to like it, but it just fell apart, and left a lot of unanswered questions for me. 3 stars.

Was this review helpful?

Great pacing and a good feel overall. Nice voice. It has a really well constructed build up, with a few shocking moments on the way. Get ready for the ending. You won't be prepared.

Was this review helpful?

Exhausting. And I say that in a good way. This was a ride, a wild ride, and I wasn't ready for some parts of it.
A great blend of creepy and eerie. A huge build up with an ending leaving you scratching your head.
Be prepared for anything and everything.

Was this review helpful?

4.5 ⭐️

Once finishing this book I had to sit on it for a minute to decompress from the all the chills this one gave me. I didn’t know much going in to this and I think that’s for the best. Honestly, I suggest going in as blindly as possible.

Clare returns to her hometown 20 years after her childhood best friend is in a coma from an suicide attempt. She was found in the basement of the Octagon House, which is known for a terrible murder in the 1960s. But why did Abby choose that place to try and end her life?

I loved the multiple POVs as well as the multiple timelines. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes a little ghost story with their thrillers.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This title had so much potential but it ultimately fell flat. Why did the main character completely uproot her life and then not even visit her friend in the hospital until she talked to everyone else in town first? And why did she never think to investigate the houses history after being pulled to the house and ad nightmares about it for years? The explanation at the end was so hurried and predictable.

Was this review helpful?

You may leave the octagon house, but it won't leave you...

Clare and Abby were fourteen when they explored the long-abandoned octagon house. The house has been empty since a man killed his wife and daughters there, a crime so dark and horrifying that it haunts the small town of Sumner's Mills. When Clare and Abby scramble out of the dilapidated house, something is broken in Abby, almost as if part of her was left behind. Two decades later, Clare is shocked to receive word that Abby is in a coma after being found in the octagon house, having attempted suicide there. Clare travels back to her home town to seek answers. What happened in that house all those years ago? And why would Abby go back there?
I really enjoyed this suspenseful horror novel! I love books that alternate between past and present, revealing morsels of information in small doses that leave me wanting more. I listened to the audiobook, which really pulled me into the eerie, haunting atmosphere of this story. The narrator really brought everything to life and portrayed everyone so well. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves horror. This novel would also be great for people who want something creepy, but not scary, graphic, or gory.

Was this review helpful?

Clare returns to her hometown after her childhood friend, Abby, attempts suicide. Abby's troubles started 20 years ago at the Octagon House. The house was left abandoned In the 60's after a man killed his wife and 2 young daughters. One summer night Clare and her friends venture into the woods to visit the house. It was such a traumatic experience that their lives were never the same. Clare returns, all these years later, to uncover the roots of Abby's obsession with the house.

I love a good haunted house story and this had all the perfect ingredients: a creepy doll, no cell service, and a dilapidated house deep in the woods. Telling the story through different time lines added to the suspense. I wasn't quite sure what was happening until the end. I do think, however, that the end left me with more questions than answers.

Thank You Atria and NetGalley for the free e-galley
Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Was this review helpful?

Ok, I ended up liking this, but man I have to say this was a slog. For an intriguing overall idea filled with real moments of fear, a legitimately creepy doll, and the possibility of ghosts, this book was mostly and unfortunately boring. The beginning and the end of this is compelling, but the side tangents that make up the middle of the plot unfortunately ended up weighing this down. I think with stronger pacing, Jennifer Fawcett's future reads have a lot of potential.

This had moments where it was atmospheric in the creepiest of ways I have to say. I had chills while reading this, especially at the beginning. As the story continued though, the chills turned into sleepiness. I had to push myself to keep going, which usually is not a great sign, but once I turned the last page I was glad I read this. I think it ended up being worth it overall, but I do have to hesitate to recommend this to everyone.

I think this will require a certain audience. I think first this is for those who enjoy a dark story with hints of the paranormal. I think this is also for those who don't mind a bit of heavy description and character-building. It requires a patient reader. I think a patient reader who enjoys this genre will be satisfied, but others will be frustrated or bored. So just keep in mind what kind of reader you are to see if this one will work for you.

Again, I do look forward to any other books Jennifer Fawcett may right because there were moments in this one that low-key reminded me of Simone St. James and that is high praise. I think with a more controlled pace, there are the makings here of some great and thrilling books.

Thank you to Netgalley and Atria Books for this read in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

The “Octagon House” is a local haunted house that has been always associated with mysterious events. Twenty years ago, Clare and Abby decided to explore the house. There, they suffered a traumatic experience that marked them for life.

One day, Clare receives a call informing her that her friend Abby has been found in a haunted house’s basement after an attempted suicide and that now she is in an induced coma. Even though she hasn’t seen Abby in years, Clare decides to go back to her hometown.

The Octagon House harbors dark secrets that have affected different families in different periods of time. But, is the house really haunted or are the shocking incidents that keep happening in the house just coincidences?

Now Clare has to return and confront not only the mysterious events of the present but also the horrors of the past.

The story is very intriguing. It’s told from multiple timelines and is narrated primarily by Clare but we get to see other important POVs as well. The eerie atmosphere and paranormal elements helped create a truly suspenseful slow-burn that had me engaged throughout the whole story. The parts where they explore the house gave me goosebumps!

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the digital review copy of Beneath the Stairs in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

When Clare was a kid in Sumner’s Mills, New York, she and her friends came across the story of the Octagon House. Lori was the one who knew the story, since the house was on land that abutted her family’s land. There was a house in the woods, in the shape of an octagon, where a man killed his wife and two kids. He shot them in the basement, and no one has lived in the house since.

Clare wasn’t sure if she believed the story. But she was 14, not really a child anymore but not an adult either, mere months away from starting high school, and still easily moved by the silly ideas of her friends.

They were four friends, Clare and Abby and Lori and Monica. Monica was the most sophisticated, ready to take on the adult world and unafraid of what others thought of her. Lori was also strong and self-assured, so she and Monica naturally took the lead. Abby was the youngest, having skipped a grade of elementary school, and Clare was that mix of mature and vulnerable that comes from losing your mother early on in life.

They set off through the woods to the house, no one wanting to be the one to chicken out, so they all head in when they get there. The lower floor is two big rooms, a kitchen and a drawing room, with the bedrooms upstairs. The house was built of wood, all except the door to the basement. It was a big metal door that looked and felt out of place. While Lori and Monica ran off upstairs to look through the bedrooms, Clare tried to open that strange basement door, but she couldn’t get it to budge. And then, as if on its own, the door slid open.

That door opening changed everything. Abby went downstairs, and Clare closed the door behind her, and when Clare was able to get that door back open again, Abby was not the same.

Clare is no longer a kid. Now she’s an adult, and she’s lost her teaching job. Her marriage has just ended. And the nightmares of that creepy Octagon House are back. And after many years without hearing from Abby, she started getting emails. Out of the blue, Abby starting contacting Clare again, and before Clare could figure out how to respond, she gets an email from Abby’s mother. Abby tried to end her life, taking an overdose of pills. She had been found in the basement of the Octagon House.

After years of living in Chicago, Clare packs up her car and drives back to Sumner’s Mills, because Abby told her that she would have to go back to the beginning in order to finish it. And after blowing up her life in Chicago, Clare doesn’t have any chance except to go back to that house and finish it.

But is Clare strong enough to face whatever it is that’s in that basement, or will the house try to take her too?

Beneath the Stairs is an extraordinary ghost story, about the things that haunt us and the ways we punish ourselves for the bad choices we made back before we even understood that we were making choices. Author Jennifer Fawcett takes her mastery of playwriting and converts it to this debut novel with deft language, taut plotting, and a deep understanding of human nature. There are layers to this story, some reaching into the past of the house, and some that focus on the consequences that individuals are facing in the present day, and those layers come together for an extraordinary novel.

Beneath the Stairs is exactly the twisty, creepy thriller that I wanted it to be. It’s smart, filled with secrets and lies and ghosts and twists that all come together to make a beautiful, composed story. For me, there was just enough of that supernatural goose-pimple feeling without that taking over, and the relationships added the perfect balance of reality to bring me back to earth. If you like a good ghost story, then you’re not going to want to let this one pass you by!

Egalleys for Beneath the Stairs were provided by Atria Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.

Was this review helpful?