Sunday, October 29, 2023

October Read: The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin


What I expected going into this novel and what it was were very different. I'm still processing. 

It takes place in a small town in Australia. A town where houses are expensive and everything is gorgeous and perfect. Except for Black Wood House. It sits empty since a shocking murder forty years before, when the owner of the home murdered his wife while she lay in bed, and chased his daughter out the door. The daughter survived, but her father returned to the home and killed himself. Susan and Bill were beloved in the neighborhood; the horrible murder/suicide left a stain on the community. They all want Black Wood House to be torn down. 

Enter Sarah Spade and her husband Joey. Sarah has a popular website, a bestselling book about "being your best self", and is eager to turn the Black Wood House into a show-stopping flipper that will sell for millions. 

Except Sarah's not what you'd expect, and wow I did not expect her character or the novel to take the turns it did. For one, Sarah is not likable. Her marriage is on edge, and oh, the secrets she has to keep in order to maintain her perfect image. Only problem is, once she moves into the house, her life starts to fall apart. She can't sleep, she's finding notes around the house, there's someone walking around in the attic, and her husband won't stay at the house. 

As Sarah slowly unravels, as a reader you're kept wondering: is she losing her mind? The possibilities are all over the place: is someone trying to drive her out of the home? Are the neighbors spying on her? Is the house haunted? Or is there something else?

The turns it took were all over the place. The ending leaves you rethinking everything. It's at turns unsettling, suspenseful, and a bit bewildering. It's a whole lot of stuff going on, and I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on at all. If you want to read a novel that will keep you scratching your head and thinking you've got it figured out (you won't), pick this one up!

Rating: 4/6 for a wild ride where no one can be trusted--even the house. At times suspenseful, at times downright spooky, this is a blend of thriller/horror/suspense that will keep you guessing. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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