Cover Image: Beneath the Stairs

Beneath the Stairs

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Beneath the Stairs is a generational story involving an old abandoned “Octagon House” hidden deep in the woods of Sumner’s Mills where a gruesome crime occurred in 1965. In 1998, four pre-teen girls make a decision that changes two of their lives forever, both experiencing something unspeakably terrifying and sinister in it’s basement. One cannot stop the electrifying pull it has on her.
Always there.
Always waiting.

Clare returns to her hometown two decades later to find out what happened to Abby, who only days before, was found unconscious after attempting suicide in the Octagon House’s basement. She’s now in an induced coma. This haunted house tale gave me goose bumps. Oh and speaking of, did I mention it’s fantastical, supernatural elements (the basement door with a mind of it’s own, that voice pleading “help me..”) Abby had written “go back to the beginning to find the end.” Carefully placed clues send you down a rabbit hole, revealing layer by layer of the houses origin.

Coming of age, childhood trauma, multiple tragedies, mystery and a CREEPY ATMOSPHERE; -it’s all here in this SUPERB DEBUT. Read in one sitting.

Thanks to Atria Books via NetGalley for kindly approving an arc. All opinions are my own.

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I struggled with this one. I couldn’t get into it and gave up at the 30% mark. I’m sure it will be a favorite for others but it just wasn’t for me.

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It’s been a while since I’ve read a good spooky book, and Beneath the Stairs felt like the one that would get me back into the mindset to start reading this genre again. A house hidden in the woods, where a man murdered his wife and kids years ago? Sounds good to me! It started out feeling creepy right from the start. The atmosphere, the town, the surroundings, it all gave me this feeling like I needed to keep looking over my shoulder.

I wasn’t really a fan of how Ms. Fawcett told the story. Even when the character of Clare is talking in the first person, the way she talked made it almost feel like she was talking in third person, but okay, I dealt with it. Clare has been through a lot in her life, from losing her mother at eight years old, to living through the horrific experience the girls had the first time they visited the Octagon house, to her most recent circumstances. Given all that, she really came across as a morose character to me, so I wasn’t surprised she wanted to go back to the Octagon house and figure out what happened to Abby who apparently spent three days in there, before attempting suicide.

The story is told in past and present chapters, as well as multiple points of view. It really could have been told in a more condensed manner, as large swaths of information just seemed to bog the story down for me. I wanted to move forward and get to the meat and potatoes of the story. Even though the story felt slow, it did keep me engaged and I was excited to get to the climactic ending but when we got to it, it really fell flat for me.

Something else that really bothered me were some of the decisions these characters made along the way. I shook my head a lot. And when the story was finally wrapped up, there were many loose threads that were never cleaned up that I couldn’t get out of my head. I often think about a book long after I’ve finished it and I did this time too, but not because I was reminiscing over what I had read, it was because I was still needing answers to plot points in the story.

Overall, this was an engaging read, albeit a bit slow to start. I commend Ms. Fawcett on this debut novel. I will certainly be keeping my eye on her to see what she has in store for readers next.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with and advance review copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for this advanced kindle copy of Beneath the Stairs!

The premise of this book sounded exciting and different and it did not disappoint. Clare was an easy character to like and I was rooting for her throughout the book. I enjoyed the different perspectives from past characters and residents of the Octagon house and how it all came full circle by connecting. This was a fast read and I finished it in a day. The author did a great job at ensuring the reader stays invested in the story, but dropping hints of what’s to come here and there.

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The cover and title drew me in immediately. It presents  questions, "What exactly is beneath the stairs? Where are they going?" Next comes the enticing blurb about the book. Since i was completely hooked, I had to find out what was going on in this story, and what a ride it was!

The author did such a good job of characterization, that much of it took me back to my pre-high-school days. I knew girls like that: the somewhat timid;  the  girl who acts like the leader and does things first; the followers; and the just hanging out, but an integral part of the book.  While they all went into the house that was supposedly haunted, only two of them were affected by it--one more so than the other.

The setting for the house is eery and the author, Jennifer Fawcett, does an excellent job of making sure the reader gets the full effect of that with  the atmospheric  descriptions that causes shivers.  All in all, I found this to be a five star book.

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A huge thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of Beneath the Stairs!

I absolutely loved this book & found it difficult to put down. It is such an immersive story, that’s genuinely so creepy at times!
This story is basically about a house, with a not so great background, as all haunted places begin. But this story, has different little details that just really brought out the “creepy” factor for me. I think this book is going to be a big success when it hits the shelves Jan 25!

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Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for my e-ARC of Beneath the Stairs.

Beneath the Stairs is a multiple POV story, mainly told from Clare’s POV. Clare and Abby were inseparable until one fateful summer drove a wedge so big between them, it’s taken 20 years to find one another again.

An abandoned home in the shape of an octagon was the site of the murder of a family back in the mid 1960s. Then, in 1998, four friends entered the home on a boring summer day and were forever changed. Now, 20 years later, Abby finds herself back at that house and nearly dies. Clare must come back home to Sumner’s Mills and finally put the pieces of octagon house together to solve the mystery of what she and Abby saw that fateful summer day so long ago.

I really wanted to love this one, but the ending was so underwhelming and didn’t answer any of the questions I had. It starts off amazing, with a spooky atmosphere and a haunted basement in a long abandoned house. Instead of ghosts and uncovering a killer though, we are just given a lot of backstory and no real answers about what exactly happened in that house once upon a time. It was all conjecture, and I wanted more finality. Overall, I was hoping for a more paranormal story.

Beneath the Stairs releases February 22nd.

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I should not have read this at 11:30 at night... it spooked me at times! I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the characters. It was full of mystery, spookies, and even a bit of a love story. There were times that I felt there were details that weren't needed but overall I was kept engaged and wanting to read. I enjoyed the back and forth timelines with our main character as well as the flashbacks to people that lived in the house before our main character, I thought it added a great spooky/mysterious element. There is a graphic scene that I was not expecting, so just heads up for readers going in!

Twenty years ago, Clare and her friends decided to go visit the Octogan House which was known due to a gruesome crime committed decades earlier. Since then it has sat uninhabited and visited by few. Nothing seemed off except for the weird basement door. When her friend Abby gets stuck down there, she comes back out not quite the same. From then on, things are never the same. But life goes on. Now, twenty years later Clare finds herself returning to her hometown after Abby was found hurt in the Octagon house. In order to try and help Abby, she is going to have to confront a lot about her past that she has tried very hard to forget.

Thank you to Atria & Netgalley for a gifted early copy of this book!

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Thank you to Atria Books and Jennifer Fawcett for letting me read Beneath the Stairs early. This one publishes on 2/22/22

I really enjoyed this book! It’s creepy, it’s interesting and the characters are really well developed. The atmosphere in this one is why I love books like this but the ending left me a little disappointed. Overall this one really hooked me in and I recommend it to anyone needing a spooky, atmospheric escape.

Sumner’s Mills holds the eerie Octagon House, a spooky abandoned house hidden deep in the woods. A man killed his family there and the rumors of its stories keep most people away. Except for 13 year old kids trying to prove themselves to each other. When Clare and her bff Abby go exploring they soon find their whole loved changed forever. Twenty years later, adult Clare hears Abby has attempted suicide in the Octagon House and is now in a coma. Clare returns to her roots to try to uncover what actually happened in that house.

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This review will be posted on my IG on 02/09

In this supernatural thriller, Clare returns to her hometown after her childhood best friend was found unresponsive in the Octagon House, an abandoned home with a violent past in which Clare and her friend had a life-altering experience in as teenagers. Clare must unravel the mystery of the Octagon House, and figure out how to make things right and save her friend's, and her own, life.

As far as atmosphere, this was great. The Octagon House was really creepy and you definitely got the unnerving sense that the author was trying to evoke. The imagery of the dilapidated house and its features (notably the basement door) was very tangible and easy to imagine, which can be credited to the author's skill. I wouldn't necessarily say that I was ever scared, but I was creeped out and really invested in finding out what was happening.

While I enjoyed the fleshing out of certain characters, particularly Clare and Abby, as it made me emotionally invested in them, some of the flashback scenes in this book seemed unnecessary and like it was just serving to draw out the plot so that the ending might seem more suspenseful.

Speaking of the ending...I was underwhelmed. The climactic scene of the story didn't feel that high-stakes, and the 'twist' didn't quite work for me. Certain aspects of the story felt unresolved in the end, and this irresolution contradicted the emotional themes of moving on, finding closure, and facing things that you had previously left unspoken.

I still enjoyed reading this, and I genuinely think it is a strong debut novel. I think Jennifer Fawcett is an author to keep an eye on, and I'm excited to see what she'll do in the future. Much appreciation to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me access to this in exchange for my unbiased review!

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Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing a digital advanced reader copy of this book. The opinions expressed below are my own and were not requested or required.
There is a theme of mental health (borderline personality disorder) and attempted suicide and could be disturbing for some readers
This is told mainly from Clare's POV present day and Clare's POV in 1998.
I was hooked from the beginning.
The Octagon House is a creepy, old, abandoned house, in a clearing in the middle of the woods.
4 girls go into the Octagon House the summer before their freshman year. Two go back.
Years later, one goes back and attempts suicide.
Clare gets a message from Abby's mom stating that Abby is in a medically induced coma, but before she went under, she said Clare's name. Abby was found locked in the basement of the Octagon House, possibly for 3 days before she was found. Clare goes back to Sumner's Mills to figure out what happened to Abby and why she went back.
Ben was convicted of killing his wife, 3-year-old daughter and the attempted murder of his 8-year-old daughter in 1965. Years later he is released from prison and is in a state run nursing home with stage 4 cancer. Ben doesn't remember what happened the night his family died, but he maintains his innocence.
Abby has been trying to figure out why she keeps getting lured back to the house. Now, Lori (one of the 4 girls from 1998) finds her stepdaughter is being pulled to the house.
Clare is determined to find out what Abby knew about that house and why certain people are drawn to it.
I found this to be a very good supernatural novel. Spooky at times. It shows how the supernatural can make you second guess yourself and others. The different timelines are not confusing at all.

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Beneath The Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett

I sometimes struggle with supernatural thrillers. This one kept me engaged and spooked here and there, throughout.

My problem was with the timeline change. I normally love that but this one had me feeling excited then bored. I felt the whiplash from it and almost gave up.

In the end, this one was a miss for me. I hope others enjoy it!

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Let me start by saying that this is one hell of a debut novel! I will read whatever Jennifer Fawcett writes from this point forward.

Now, does that mean this book was flawless? No. But, what book is ever flawless to every reader?

Ok, mild spoilers and TWs ahead...

Negatives,for me:
I was not prepared for a very real, very emotional miscarriage scene. There are few things that trigger me and while I have never read a book that contained a graphic miscarriage scene before, it truly triggered me. I was upset and frankly, angry. I didn't feel it was necessary for this type of novel, to feature this. I now understand, after finishing the story, how much the miscarriage affected the main character as a person (obviously as it would for many women). However, it was too damn graphic with the blood, clumps and the main character Clare's husband yelling at her, "Don't step on her!" I almost stopped reading at that point. It was too much, especially her husband saying that. I had to take a break and decide if I could, or should continue. I'm glad I chose to continue.
Also on the negative side: Clare did a hell of a lot of growing in this novel. She went through so much, emotionally and physically, especially since the book spanned around 20 years or more of her life. So, when she clung so desperately to Mitchell at the end, fearing at any moment she'd lose him, her paranoia became too much for me. After everything, I expected a bit more self confidence and self-reliance.
Lastly, I would've like to have read more about the tunnel and what really happened to George. I really wanted her to find his bones in that tunnel, like he died being in the house he built after all the terrible things he did, causing his ghost to remain in the basement. And I thought perhaps he should've been the reason for the family's brutal deaths that got blamed on the father Ben (having lured them into the basement). I think that he could've still been alive at that point.

Ok now the positives:
Everything else! Seriously! The relationships between the family members, the teens, then them as adults, the conversations, the growth of the characters, the understanding how women can feel that miscarriages are punishments or that they did something wrong (when it happens naturally much more often then we're told), the way the story behind the Octagon house unfolded throughout the book(without feeling like it was being drug out ). I cared about these characters. I wanted to know their stories. I wanted to know the house's secrets. I enjoyed the suspense and the genuine fear and spookiness. It was just (altogether) a fantastic novel. I would read it again (in fact, I really would like a physical copy of this book), I would recommend it to others (with the TW miscarriage), and I look forward to reading more books by this author.

5 ⭐

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Loved the beginning and middle. The ending, not so much.

I like haunted house tales and I enjoyed this one a lot - up until the ending few pages. I don't know why the author chose to end this story the way she did but I was disappointed.

The story started off well, was told over multiple timelines with multiple characters, and had some spooky spots that I enjoyed. But the ending...blech.

Most of the book...5 stars. Ending of the book...1 star. I still rated the book 4 stars because I truly enjoyed most of it. Maybe the author will reconsider the ending because I'm not the only one who disliked it.

I received this book from Atria Books through Edelweiss and Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.

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A haunted house! A creepy basement! A generational curse?

This was a chilling read and I was thoroughly creeped out!! It really felt like I was there and I really did not want to be!!

The Octagon House that sits outside the small town is HAUNTED and has interrupted generations of those who have stepped into it - always leaving questions and no answers.
Clare and Abby have gone in before as curious kids but a part of Abby never made it out. Twenty years later, Clare comes back to visit when she hears that Abby tried to go back into the house and ended up in a coma.

This spine-tingling slow burn with multiple POVs and jumping timelines cover grief, fears, and friendships. As Clare tries to piece together what might have happened, the gaps leave just enough space to insert our own fears, making it that much more haunting... are our real fears sometimes based on things that aren’t real at all?

I feel the entire story, not just the climax, was the true spooky dazzle of this book. I’m excited (& maybe slightly scared) for more from Jennifer Fawcett!

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for my advanced copy of this title in exchange for an honest review!

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I love a good ghost story and was super excited to receive this one. The synopsis did seem a bit similar to Home After Dark by Riley Sager but once I started reading, it was a lot different. This story had a lot of potential but it was just full of a lot of filler. Some characters got a lot of time but their stories could have been told in other ways. There were so many time jumps it did get a bit confusing and a lot of the time it just ended up being the same story over and over again.
There were no big twists which kept it difficult to keep going. Once it ended, I was left with so many questions. There didn't seem to be a deeper meaning.

Thank you to Netgalley, Atria Books, & Edelweiss for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Expect publication date 2/22/2022

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Perfect for fans of "The Haunting of Hill House" and Riley Sager's "Home Before Dark," Jennifer Fawcett's "Beneath the Stairs" is a haunting, gripping debut about the sleepy town of Sumner's Mills and the so-called Octagon House that lies dormant in its deep woods.

Told primarily through the viewpoint of Clare, whose unexpected return to Sumner's Mills has her confronting not only the horror of the present, but the past as well, this is the story of how darkness settles into the bones of a place--and never quite leaves. Through various viewpoints that go back more than one generation, the story of the Octagon House and its inhabitants slowly unfolds as Clare comes to terms with the fact that the ghost stories of her childhood in Sumner's Mills may likely be so much more than that.

It's not often I find myself genuinely scared while reading, but this book scared me more than once. Fawcett's writing creeps near slow burn territory at times, but the story was so immersive and suspenseful that it kept me fully invested from beginning to end. If you're looking for an action-packed, explosive thriller, this might not be the book for you. If you're like me and love a well-written ghost story, this is the perfect read for you. "Beneath the Stairs" is layered and mysterious (some readers may find there to be too much mystery left even at the end) but its plausibility is what makes it truly haunting.

*Thank you to NetGalley & the publisher for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*

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Just scary enough to not want to read before bed, but too good to not read before bed. I loved the mystery that was at the heart of this story. I love a good haunted house / ghost story and this did not disappoint! I really enjoyed all the characters and loved the ending and the closure all the characters got. Very good read.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Atria Books for an E-ARC.

Jennifer Fawcett's debut, Beneath the Stairs is a well written novel. The book alternates between 3 separate timelines to tell the story of the Octagon House which has been tormenting the town of Sumner's Mills for 85 years. We meet George and his little sister Marion back in 1936, the Fischer Family in 1965 and Clare and Abby in the present.

Fawcett transitions between each of these timelines brilliantly and it's very easy for the reader to follow along without confusion. The publisher has labeled this book as general fiction but I consider it closer to a suspense novel with some ghostly elements.

The plot was well developed and engaging. It's based on a house affecting 3 different families and their experiences in the house.

The timelines that I most enjoyed were the flashbacks to 1936 and 1965 involving the Sumners (George and little Marion) and the Fischers. The sections in the book involving Clare and Abby in the present and back in 1998 tended to be drawn out and lowered my rating from a 5 star down to 3.75/4. Various plot moments in the book with Abby and Clare could've been edited out which added nothing to the plot. Those sections will be sent to the publisher directly on NetGalley.

Suspense and ghost lovers will find this book to be a 3-4 star on the spook factor. Scenes which involved characters exploring the house were creepy. I was impressed given that this is the author's first novel. The ending was a bit too fast for me. I would've preferred a little more time down in that deep, dark basement. Readers should not go into this book expecting a major twist like a thriller. Instead this is a well developed ghostly, suspense novel and the effects it has on major characters.

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Clare and Abby went through a lot together, but what they saw in the Octagon House 20 years ago nearly broke them. And now, as Clare weathers her own personal tragedies, she finds that Abby may finally have succumbed. People were murdered in that house, but is it still taking lives? If Clare wants to sort out her own issues and save her friend, she'll need to go back to the beginning. This is a well-written thriller about one family's poisoned legacy and the lengths to which we will go in order to save our friends. And to save ourselves. And how those acts are not mutually exclusive. Tinged with nostalgia and weird architecture (the haunted house is octagonal...with an exceedingly out-of-place large steel basement door, with a mind of its own), Beneath the Stairs is vastly entertaining.

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