The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

The Family Remains is marketed as a standalone sequel to The Family Upstairs. So did it work as a standalone for me? Unfortunately not; however, it can work as one. I did read The Family Upstairs, but three years later, I forgot most of what happened. I didn’t know what I should have remembered and what I didn’t know yet, which took away some of the suspense in the story. I didn’t need to remember anything, as Lisa Jewell provides us with the background we need to know. Reading both back to back would be the best reading experience to get to know the characters and the horror they endured while living in the house of horrors. If you read The Family Upstairs and don’t remember much or haven’t read it, you are in good hands with Lisa Jewell

The hook and pace: Was the story a page-turner?

Brenda: The story opens in 2019, when human remains are discovered, creating questions about who and how long they have been there. Then we are taken back to 2018 London, where Rachel Rimmer is awoken by a phone call informing her that her husband, Michael, was found murdered. DCI Samuel Owusu suspects the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago, known to us as “the house of horrors.” Then we’re taken back to 2019, where Henry Lamb now lives with his sister Lucy and her children in London.

It sounds a bit confusing with a lot going on, and Lisa Jewell had me turning the pages as she juggles the three storylines and weaves together four narratives that eventually overlap and come together nicely. However, she takes her time, slowing down the pace, and waits too long to show us the connections. That was slightly off from her signature writing style. BUT Lisa Jewell has given her readers what they ask for here in The Family Remains: to find out what happens next for the characters who survived the house of horrors after that last line in The Family Upstairs.

Lindsay: The Lamb siblings are back together. I read Book 1 in this series a few years ago so some details weren’t as fresh in my mind as I would have liked, however, Lisa Jewell had me hooked and hanging on every word regardless. I was able to put most the pieces of the characters lives and plot backstory together with the little reminders scattered throughout the book. I enjoyed being lost in the mystery of what was happening to this family (again). Following along on their quirky, dark and unforgettable journey was extremely entertaining.

The plot unfolds through multiple perspectives and timelines which flowed brilliantly. Each perspective added the perfect layer of tension, mystery and intrigue. I really enjoyed the police investigation sections and thought those new characters were a fantastic addition.

The Characters

Brenda: Jewell dives back into the psyche of Henry Lamb, one of her most unsettling characters from TFU. Libby locates her birth father, Phin Thomsen, who also survived the house of horror. Phin disappears again, and Henry becomes obsessed with finding Phin. I loved the creepy feeling Henry gave me in TFU, and the last chapters left me chilled to the bone. With so much going on, I didn’t get that chilling feeling I wanted from Henry in this one, which detracts from the suspense of Henry’s pursuit of Phin. I wanted to spend more time in Henry’s head.

Lisa Jewell introduces us to a new character Rachel Rimmer as she remembers her disastrous marriage with her abusive husband, Micheal.

Payoff: Are the twists and turns exciting and shocking with a rewarding payoff in the end?

Yes, Even though things didn’t quite go as I wanted them to, I did find them exciting and rewarding in the end.


Lindsay: A highly enjoyable read! I loved spending more time with these characters. I highly recommend this series and strongly encourage you to pick up Book 1 first to get the whole Lamb family experience. This is “the sequel I didn’t know I wanted!”

Brenda: I, too, thought it was an enjoyable read, and I am glad Jewell allowed us to see what happens next for the characters. It was the sequel, I didn’t know I wanted to read too!

Published in Aug 2022 by Atria / Read in Sept 2022

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Setting: London, England / Chicago, Illinois
Source: I received a copy from the publisher through NG

The Family Upstairs

Brenda’s thoughts

Lisa Jewell is moving a little towards the darker side from what this “Lisa Jewell reader” has come to expect. However, I have moved a little ok a lot to the darker side myself, so I think she and I still make a great match. She still has all those significant elements that make for her signature suspenseful style with those well-layered unpredictable plots and reveals and twist that come just at the right time to figure some things out.

The Family Upstairs is a compelling family saga with devilishly, deliciously chilling narrative along with disturbing dark characters. I enjoyed the three POVs along with the different timelines that had me questioning the reliability of some characters. The last few pages are so chilling and I loved every one of them. I was left feeling delightfully chilled to the bone with how it all came together. I highly recommend.

Lindsay’s thoughts

Deliciously dark, creepy and twisted!

Lisa Jewell does it again! I loved this highly suspenseful, spine-tingling tale! This author is SO extremely consistent in her writing. She has the ability to suck me into a storyline from the first chapter barely letting me up for air before the last sentence. This book was such a treat and a great escape during these stressful and isolating times.

The engrossing plot is dark and disturbing – it involves a wealthy family, an eerie old mansion house, a creepy cult and several strange and peculiar characters.

If you like edgy, dark, eerie stories filled with mysterious, foreboding atmosphere and secretive, intriguing characters, then this is the book for you! It was excellent!

Published in November 2019 by Atria Books / Read in Oct 2019

Source: NetGalley