The Family Upstairs was a massive hit for Lisa Jewell, rocketing her firmly into one of the most popular British thriller authors writing today. An author who rarely does sequels, the outcry for Jewell to write a follow up to The Family Upstairs was so loud that she’s written one. It states at the end of the book that she was reluctant to write a sequel until one day she realised who she wanted to write the book from the viewpoint of and everything else clicked into place. Introducing The Family Remains.
Please note that an ARC (advanced reader copy) of The Family Remains was kindly sent to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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If you’ve not yet had a chance to read my review of The Family Upstairs, I’d recommend you do that first. The Family Remains picks up around a year after the last book and takes us on two separate stories that inevitably intertwine and connect in a really satisfying way.
The Family Remains plot – 4/5
The Family Remains follows Henry Lamb, one of the older children from the house in The Family Upstairs. He goes on a search to find Phin who he was obsessed with in the previous books. After disappearing off to Chicago where he thinks he is, his sister worries after him and quickly goes on a search for him. Alongside this, there’s a parallel story running about Rachel who meets Michael who we read about in The Family Upstairs and her experiences with him.
I’ll be honest, because I’ve not read The Family Upstairs for so long, there were a lot of “twists” in this for me that I didn’t see coming and a lot of “oh yeah, I remember…” moments which were really cool. One of the pieces of magic you get from writing a sequel is the connections to events that have happened in the previous book. Lisa Jewell really takes advantage of that here.
The plot itself doesn’t race along at a fast pace but neither do any of Lisa Jewell’s books. Jewell has mastered giving you just enough teasers every now and then and just enough “ooooh” moments at the end of chapters to make you want to keep reading. She’s a master of the suspense thriller dropping just enough drama and tenseness into scenes to keep you constantly wondering and guessing where everything is heading.
The Family Remains characters – 4/5
I must say, I think The Family Remains is one of Lisa Jewell’s biggest successes when it comes to characters. Characters aren’t necessarily one of the highlights of Jewell’s novels, as the plot is usually where everything is; a lot of the characters react and do things that you’d expect any generic person to do. However, in this book, Henry, the main character, is bloody brilliant – he’s a bit erratic, he’s got a wicked sense of humour and he’s clearly a little unhinged which makes you constantly question what he’s going to do next.
Rachel’s story is one of bravery and independence. She’s a 30-something woman who isn’t married and doesn’t particularly have her life worked out yet but after a traumatic event, she builds a better life for herself with the unwavering support of her incredible father whilst also unravelling a dark mystery that will hopefully bring her peace.
The Family Remains summary – 4/5
The Family Remains is a fantastic rare sequel from Lisa Jewell. It features arguably some of her best-written characters and a storyline that constantly keeps you hooked and reminiscing about how dark the first book was. It’s a sequel that feels worthy of its prequel and highlights just how talented Jewell is at keeping audiences captivated by her characters. I think I’d like to see more sequels from Jewell!