The Upstairs Room
Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners—including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.

The Upstairs Room Details

TitleThe Upstairs Room
Author
FormatKindle Edition
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 27th, 2017
PublisherPicador
Number of pages320 pages
Rating
GenreMystery, Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Gothic, Thriller

The Upstairs Room Review

  • Amalia Gavea
    May 20, 2017
    Moving house must be one of the most upsetting and unsettling experiences we have to go through at least once in our lives. Sometimes, it may be almost unbearable. Five years ago, my beloved grandma passed away and I moved in her house. It was always meant for me and I remember how she used to beam with ride that her granddaughter would fill the rooms she would leave behind. And yet, when I began to create my own space, I felt so guilty. I felt as if I had no right to alter her house and throw a Moving house must be one of the most upsetting and unsettling experiences we have to go through at least once in our lives. Sometimes, it may be almost unbearable. Five years ago, my beloved grandma passed away and I moved in her house. It was always meant for me and I remember how she used to beam with ride that her granddaughter would fill the rooms she would leave behind. And yet, when I began to create my own space, I felt so guilty. I felt as if I had no right to alter her house and throw away her furniture. I started seeing weird, frightening dreams that continued for months. And then, I settled in and now I feel her comforting presence and my house became a cocoon that will always protect me. But how much worse can it be when your new house belonged to a complete stranger? Someone who abandoned it under mysterious circumstances?Eleanor, Richard and their two daughters move to a Victorian four-bedroom house and the problems start almost immediately. The source of the trouble seems to be in an upstairs room whose walls are covered with the word ‘’Emily’’ written in childish letters. When Eleanor sees her eldest daughter changing into a wildling, she begins a fight with the house and the winner isn’t guaranteed.The story is not original, and yet it is innovative in the sense that it focuses on the characters, the way the house influences them, changing their lives. The steps, the sounds, the things that seem to be moving without any logical explanation provide the background in front of which we see Eleanor's family turning upside down. This is where certain problems of the novel start, in my opinion.It is fortunate that Eleanor is such a complex, well-written and realistic character. The agony of the mother, the doubts and the persistence to fight through this horrible experience are depicted perfectly, flawlessly. This makes Richard and Zoe’s characters appear even worse than they are. Richard is one of the most irritating, frustrating characters I’ve recently come across. I couldn't fathom why Eleanor chose him as her husband and I cannot understand why she put up with him and his absolute lack of understanding. I mean, if I were a ghost, I would attack him on the spot as a service to mankind. Zoe, on the other hand, is completely indifferent. Like one of those acquaintances you forget they exist until you meet them again. She has the personality of a doormat, tries to convince herself that she’s an artist, but all she thinks about is how to fall in bed. Artistically, mind you…Therefore, the writing confused me greatly. When the books was a mystery, the writing was top-notch, impeccable. The feeling of dread, the foreboding descriptions were some of the best I’ve ever read. But it went downhill, after the first 150 pages and rarely picked up again. In my opinion, it would be better if we had 15-20% less content. All these details about the main characters weren’t really vital to the story, and Richard, Zoe and Eleanor were not the most interesting people in the planet in terms of life choices.This brings me to my main complaint about the focus of the story. After a point and following many repetitions, the book moved towards a weird combination of a mystery story and a chic-lit novel of the worst kind. Zoe’s affair was utterly ridiculous, badly written and added nothing to the plot. There was too much focus on sex and less on Zoe's development as a character. If the way she viewed sex had anything to offer to the book, I am sorry but I didn’t notice it. It’s a pity, actually. Modern writers create darkly beautiful Gothic stories and then try their best to destroy them by inserting cheap romance plotlines. Who has told hem that a story is incomplete without romance? Because of this, I skipped a few pages here and there, and I was less enthusiastic about reading further.A story that could have been 4-5 star-worthy became a 2-3 star rating because of juvenile sex angst and chic-lit clichés. If the end hadn’t been so satisfying, I would have rated it lower than 3, because nothing angers me more as a reader than wasted opportunities. However, you should definitely read it. The mystery part is extremely good and Kate Murray-Browne is clearly talented both with descriptions and with dialogue. Just be aware that the ghost of chick-lit is lurking. Perhaps it will bother you less…Many thanks to Picador and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Paromjit
    July 19, 2017
    This is a creepy and eerie novel that I found to be an oppressive and atmospheric read revolving around a family who have financially stretched themselves to breaking point to acquire a Victorian house in the London Fields. They acquire a lodger, Zoe, who moves into their basement to contribute to their finances. Richard, Eleanor and their small children, Rosie and Isobel, and Zoe find their lives begin to spiral downward in the house. Eleanor had misgivings about the house but give in to Richar This is a creepy and eerie novel that I found to be an oppressive and atmospheric read revolving around a family who have financially stretched themselves to breaking point to acquire a Victorian house in the London Fields. They acquire a lodger, Zoe, who moves into their basement to contribute to their finances. Richard, Eleanor and their small children, Rosie and Isobel, and Zoe find their lives begin to spiral downward in the house. Eleanor had misgivings about the house but give in to Richard's wishes. There is a spooky and unsettling upstairs room with the name Emily written on the walls and a powerful force that does not like the presence of anyone in the room or as it becomes clear, in the house. The author gives us detailed character studies of the adults in the house, their personal histories, of their drab ordinariness, the normal struggles of trying to keep a marriage together and bringing up children, the compromises, of insecurities, and dreams lost.Eleanor tries to do her best to clean and repaint parts of the house in the hope of eradicating the supernatural and malevolent entity of a child that is strong and pervasive. However, nothing works and in the meantime, Eleanor's health begins to deteriorate with constant heavy headaches and vomiting which eases when she is out of the house. She tries to talk to Richard about Emily but he doen't want to hear and rationalises it down to a consequence of her stress and her ill health. Richard is doing a Masters in his efforts to become an academic and a writer. He is working part time so that he can do this, but is failing. His energies become focused on Zoe as he obsessively tracks her doings and her life, routinely searching her room. Zoe feels the presence of Emily, has broken night sleeps, and, ominously, begins to sleepwalk. She tries to spend as much time away from the house as she can. She becomes involved with an artist in a relationship with another woman, knowing its not a good idea. Eleanor becomes more frightened as Rosie's behaviour changes, she bites, has tantrums, desperate night terrors and acquires an imaginary friend that is the spirit of Emily infesting the house. Isobel gets burnt and has to be taken to hospital. Driven by the need to protect her children, Eleanor is prepared to try anything even though it has to be without Richard's support.This is a low key ghost story, a disturbed and disturbing child presence that slowly infects the lives of those in the house, building up slowly and inexorably to the ending. If you like doom laden, atmospherically creepy stories, without the heavy dramatics, then this is a book for you. It is a character driven suspense novel that kept me engaged and absorbed in the story anxious to see what would happen next. Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC.
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  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    April 22, 2017
    I think my high expectation contributed a bit to my disappointment with this book. Also, I thought that this would be a modern ghost story, but it turned out to be a relationship drama with a hint of a ghost story. Now the book isn't badly written, but it was not what I was after. If I wanted to read about problems in a relationship or finding the right man to love would have chosen a book that dealt with that. I wanted a creepy ghost story. This book is neither creepy nor chilling.Most of the b I think my high expectation contributed a bit to my disappointment with this book. Also, I thought that this would be a modern ghost story, but it turned out to be a relationship drama with a hint of a ghost story. Now the book isn't badly written, but it was not what I was after. If I wanted to read about problems in a relationship or finding the right man to love would have chosen a book that dealt with that. I wanted a creepy ghost story. This book is neither creepy nor chilling.Most of the books "haunting" are about Eleanor thinking the house making her sick. She tries to spend most of her time away from the house while trying to make Richard, her husband, believe her. But, he's busy sneaking down into the basement when their lodger Zoe isn't there. I kept on reading the book wanting for something to happen. But, it never did. There was a scene towards the end when I finally thought "this is it, now the story will get more intense," but it was just a false alarm.The Upstairs Room is a ghost story for people that can't handle a book that really deals with ghosts. It showed promise in the beginning, but in the end, it was a letdown. I mean there was a moment in the book when Eleanor was thinking back to when Richard proposed to her in Venice and all I could think of is this all the book is about, recollections of the past?I was not the right reader for this book. However, if this feels like a book for you go ahead, but don't expect to be frighted.I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
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  • Lucy Banks
    May 27, 2017
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.Eerie, unsettling - an intricate blend of the supernatural and the personal.I absolutely devoured this book, as it was utterly gripping from start to finish.The Upstairs Room is a story about Eleanor, her husband Richard, and their two children, Rosie and Isobel. They're a perfectly normal family before they move into the property on Litchfield Road - a dated,dreary house that they hope to one day turn into a family I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.Eerie, unsettling - an intricate blend of the supernatural and the personal.I absolutely devoured this book, as it was utterly gripping from start to finish.The Upstairs Room is a story about Eleanor, her husband Richard, and their two children, Rosie and Isobel. They're a perfectly normal family before they move into the property on Litchfield Road - a dated,dreary house that they hope to one day turn into a family home. However, things don't pan out, and the frightening events end up altering their lives completely. In a bid to support their house purchase, they get a lodger for the basement, a young woman called Zoe. From the start though, it becomes apparent that things aren't going to work out, due mainly to the eerie house itself.For starters, there's the fact that Eleanor gets ill every time she's in it, to the point that she's vomiting every day, and suffering from terrible headaches. Zoe is plagued by nightmares, dreaming that a sinister girl is sitting near her, watching her sleep. And little Rosie, once a pleasant young child, starts biting her mother and waking in the night, screaming uncontrollably.If that's not bad enough, there's an unused room at the top of the house - with walls covered from head to foot in the same scrawled name - Emily. So far, so haunted - and as a ghost story, it works brilliantly. Think the off-balance spookiness of Shirley Jackson, or the subtly growing horror of a Susan Hill. Yes, we're talking great quality psychological stuff here. However, where this story comes into its own is the artful blending of the characters' personal lives into the story. We soon discover that Eleanor and Richard's marriage isn't quite as strong as it initially seems. Zoe's personal life is nothing short of a car-wreck. All these details don't stand as separate entities from the main supernatural plot-line - rather, they are woven seamlessly into it, as though the characters' personal negativity actively feeds whatever is haunting the house.I also loved the end, and applaud the writer for resisting the urge to end with something over-dramatic. It was a poised, thought-provoking conclusion, which left me feeling very satisfied.A big thumbs up from me, I'll be looking out for more stuff from this author.
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  • Blair
    June 2, 2017
    Review originally published at Nudge.The Upstairs Room is billed as 'a ghost story for the housing crisis', and it certainly delivers on that promise. This is a creepy gothic tale given a modern sheen, but it's also a sensitive and measured exploration of the lives of two characters.Eleanor and Richard are a successful thirtysomething couple with two young daughters. Buying a Victorian terrace in London Fields stretches them to the financial limit, but it's their dream home, and updating the sha Review originally published at Nudge.The Upstairs Room is billed as 'a ghost story for the housing crisis', and it certainly delivers on that promise. This is a creepy gothic tale given a modern sheen, but it's also a sensitive and measured exploration of the lives of two characters.Eleanor and Richard are a successful thirtysomething couple with two young daughters. Buying a Victorian terrace in London Fields stretches them to the financial limit, but it's their dream home, and updating the shabby decor left by the previous owners will add to its value. They try to ignore the disturbing spare room upstairs, with its walls covered in a child's scribbles and the name 'Emily' written over and over again.Circumstances force Eleanor and Richard to take on a lodger: 27-year-old Zoe, stumbling through life from one bad decision (quitting a marketing career to work in an art shop) to another (getting involved with a guy who already has a girlfriend). She moves into the basement. As we observe Eleanor and Zoe's lives, running in parallel, we see what they conceal from each other: both women feel the house taking something from them, draining their energy, making them weak and confused. Eleanor is wracked by sickness and unbearable headaches; Zoe has night terrors, dreams of 'Emily' appearing in her room, and sleepwalks.What is wrong with the house on Litchfield Road? The threat of a haunting is continually suggested, but it is also kept in check. Murray-Browne's clear and concise style of description seems at odds with anything so fanciful. Is there bad energy, an accumulation of sadness and uncertainty? Are the real horrors psychological? The Upstairs Room is about how we construct stories from the clues scattered around us throughout everyday life, and how the conclusions we draw from them might be distorted. It's about how the real ghosts might be those who live alongside us, brushing past but never properly connecting: our neighbours, our lodgers, even perhaps our own partners and children.I was impressed by how subtle and measured this novel was, how carefully it balanced its two identities. Murray-Browne delves deep into the histories of her characters and really fleshes them out, rather than sticking to the easier route of jacking up the supernatural aspects. At the same time, a sense of ambiguity remains, so that we can never quite be sure there isn't a ghost, or that there is a rational explanation behind the tale of Emily. It's an intelligent and assured debut that leaves the reader with much to chew over.I received an advance review copy of The Upstairs Room from Nudge. I wasn't paid for this review and I was under no obligation to be anything other than honest about what I thought of the book.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • ☙ percy ❧
    June 21, 2017
    first of all, the good: i thought it started off really well, it managed to be pretty engaging throughout, and the characters were also well-developed and interesting. but. it seemed to me like a psychological drama with a vague backdrop of the supernatural/horror, whereas i was expecting the opposite. the supernatural element seemed to take backstage in favour of various tangential storylines that seemed to be unnecessary. the story gradually lost momentum as it progressed, screeching to a halt first of all, the good: i thought it started off really well, it managed to be pretty engaging throughout, and the characters were also well-developed and interesting. but. it seemed to me like a psychological drama with a vague backdrop of the supernatural/horror, whereas i was expecting the opposite. the supernatural element seemed to take backstage in favour of various tangential storylines that seemed to be unnecessary. the story gradually lost momentum as it progressed, screeching to a halt with that supremely unsatisfactory, anticlimactic ending, making me feel like literally nothing had happened. i mean, i wasn't exactly expecting a ghost to come out and go on a crazy chainsaw massacre, but at the same time i wasn't expecting the horror element to fizzle and die either.
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  • Bethany Godwin
    June 2, 2017
    I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. It has an excellent premise and is written very well, but I found myself bogged down by extraneous story lines and, well, too much writing. (view spoiler)[.PLUS the spirit is never expelled! Eleanor, Richard, and Zoe cut the "clearing" short and simply move out. That was extremely dissatisfying. (hide spoiler)]I feel like the biggest upset (other than the ending) is that there isn't enough of the eerie. We get plenty of Eleanor's headaches and vom I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. It has an excellent premise and is written very well, but I found myself bogged down by extraneous story lines and, well, too much writing. (view spoiler)[.PLUS the spirit is never expelled! Eleanor, Richard, and Zoe cut the "clearing" short and simply move out. That was extremely dissatisfying. (hide spoiler)]I feel like the biggest upset (other than the ending) is that there isn't enough of the eerie. We get plenty of Eleanor's headaches and vomiting as well as Rosie's bad behavior, the mystery surrounding the top room and the previous residents, and Zoe's dreams/sleepwalking, but the mystery isn't actually delved into. I got the impression that the problem didn't originate with Emily but was there before, yet there's really nothing about that. (view spoiler)[ And AGAIN, the fact that the bad juju isn't expelled but left for the next owners to be tormented by. (hide spoiler)] I wanted to know if the house had been built on a graveyard or if someone had died and their ghost was haunting the place. SOMETHING. ANYTHING! The second biggest issue is how... detached I felt all the characters were. I didn't like any of them and I wanted someone to get his or her act together. I hated how transient Zoe was-- how she was sort of floating through life, whether it be friendships, relationships, or job. Her head space was totally evident in the condition of her apartment (which honestly grossed me out. Are people really that disgusting? Not to mention Richard being a total creeper and nosing around her personal space--which, let's be fair here, she did her fair share of snooping. Note to self: Never have or be a lodger.) I admit to being intrigued in the beginning about what's going on with her and Laura and her and Rob, but that got old quick due to Murray-Browne's annoying habit of sending the reader into the past for unending paragraphs. Those Back to the Future moments may not have been so bad if they weren't sort of rambling. I felt like the characters' instability in the present was equalled in the past and eventually I started skimming until I got to parts dealing with the house's haunting. Let's look at Eleanor and Richard now. 1) Why are they still together? Their relationship is an enigma. They didn't even like (or make an impression in Richard's case) each other in the beginning, and, honestly, I'm still confused as to how they even grew on each other enough to start a relationship. Add to that the fact that Richard tired of Eleanor not long into their relationship, I just don't get it. There is no love there, people, which irks me to no end.2) Once again, we have two characters with no real purpose in life. Richard, admittedly, has no idea what he wants to do and is wasting his time, our time, and their money on an MA he never finishes-- ultimately ending up a bum (or part time stay-at-home dad, whichever you prefer) who's like an child who doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. He does, however, have a strange obsession with fixing up a haunted house he can barely afford in the first place. And Eleanor? I thought she had a job at a publishing house. Apparently it's as fictional as this novel, because she basically stops working ⅓ of the way through the novel. Her musings into the past are about as interesting as watching paint dry because they are essentially her bemoaning her lackluster life. (view spoiler)[The most passion I see out of her is when she's daydreaming about leaving Richard, which, of course, she doesn't manage to do. (hide spoiler)]My head just hurts after reading this book for any amount of time; I'm so bogged down with extraneous details concerning these character's backstories. I think Murray-Browne's money maker was in the paranormal, but she spent way to much time on the characters' personal lives to achieve success.
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  • Zoe Mann
    July 22, 2017
    'The Upstairs Room' by Kate Murray-Browne was such a disappointment!! I had such high hopes once I started reading and the book contained not only my name but my partners, my sisters AND the couple in the story got engaged in the same place as me. The similarities freaked me out so much I had to stop reading it before bed. What more could you ask for in a paranormal mystery than it making you too scared to sleep at night? Well the more I read and got over the shock of the similarities the more I 'The Upstairs Room' by Kate Murray-Browne was such a disappointment!! I had such high hopes once I started reading and the book contained not only my name but my partners, my sisters AND the couple in the story got engaged in the same place as me. The similarities freaked me out so much I had to stop reading it before bed. What more could you ask for in a paranormal mystery than it making you too scared to sleep at night? Well the more I read and got over the shock of the similarities the more I struggled to understand the point of the story. It dragged on, told a lot of unnecessary background, included a lot of irrelevant characters and I'm still struggling to understand why. It focuses on a couple who move into a new home with a lodger. Strange things start to happen in the house. Suspicions of paranormal activity arise but nothing is confirmed and nothing extremely out of the ordinary happens. I'm really struggling to write this review or put much effort in to it as I don't really understand what I've just read. I recieved a free ARC from netgalley in return for an honest review.
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  • Thebooktrail
    June 22, 2017
    For people of a nervous disposition or like me who read this the very weekend when you go to see a friend who's renovating a house....well just be warned. I used to write on the walls as a child, there was even some scribbles of the house I went to visit recently. So you can imagine my horror at reading this book! I was suitably chilled and thrilled and freaked out.The entire novel is set up like a normal house move, a lodger, and a house that seems to dislike the new people. Eleanor is the one For people of a nervous disposition or like me who read this the very weekend when you go to see a friend who's renovating a house....well just be warned. I used to write on the walls as a child, there was even some scribbles of the house I went to visit recently. So you can imagine my horror at reading this book! I was suitably chilled and thrilled and freaked out.The entire novel is set up like a normal house move, a lodger, and a house that seems to dislike the new people. Eleanor is the one to get to the truth of the matter - her good for nothing husband is too busy wanting to get busy with the lodger. Never mind his poor wife going out of her mind. This worked really well for me as the set up was brilliant but the characters didn't quite fit if that makes sense. Eleanor didn't seem with it and was a bit too keen to have sex when she thought something from the afterlife might be watching! The house was the main character for me and that chilled me to the core. It reminded me a bit of the movie The Skeleton Key as the set up with that room...Jeepers creepers.
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  • Roman Clodia
    June 8, 2017
    I have to confess that I'm rubbish at scary books (and films) as I scare easily! It's taken me 5 days to read this not because it's dull but because a couple of scenes freaked me out to the extent that I've only been reading this on the bus or when I haven't been alone at home. Horror aficionados may well laugh...What I liked about this is the slow build-up of eerie feelings, and the ambiguity that Murray-Browne keeps going right to the end. Anyone wanting gore, or explicit horrors may well find I have to confess that I'm rubbish at scary books (and films) as I scare easily! It's taken me 5 days to read this not because it's dull but because a couple of scenes freaked me out to the extent that I've only been reading this on the bus or when I haven't been alone at home. Horror aficionados may well laugh...What I liked about this is the slow build-up of eerie feelings, and the ambiguity that Murray-Browne keeps going right to the end. Anyone wanting gore, or explicit horrors may well find this disappointing - it's more akin to James' The Turn of the Screw (without the literary style) than Stephen King... more disturbing shadows just out of sight than monsters under the bed. What isn't quite so successful are the unnecessarily-extended back stories - we just don't need to know everything about our married couple from when they were students at Oxford. All the same, M-B keeps her narrative bubbling over nicely with deranged writings on the walls, misplaced objects and that perennial of the genre, sinister children. Creepy!Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley
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  • Kirsty
    July 16, 2017
    The Upstairs Room felt like rather a good book to read when I felt unwell, pulling me in as it did from the beginning. It was not as dark as I had anticipated, but is undoubtedly well structured. The character studies which Murray-Browne writes are subtle at first, and then deepen and become more complex as the novel progresses. The Upstairs Room was not quite the book which I was expecting, but it is a compelling page turner nonetheless.
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  • Carly
    April 20, 2017
    This cover does all sorts of things to me
  • Dee
    June 9, 2017
    2.5* --> 3*Richard and Eleanor sink all their savings into their dream home. But there are strange things afoot. Eleanor thinks the house is making her ill. And her daughter has gone from a little angel to a temper tantrum throwing little devil. While Richard seems to be more occupied with their lodger, Zoë, Eleanor investigates the mystery of the previous owners and why the name “Emily” is found written pretty much all over the house.I must say, I have some serious mixed feelings about The U 2.5* --> 3*Richard and Eleanor sink all their savings into their dream home. But there are strange things afoot. Eleanor thinks the house is making her ill. And her daughter has gone from a little angel to a temper tantrum throwing little devil. While Richard seems to be more occupied with their lodger, Zoë, Eleanor investigates the mystery of the previous owners and why the name “Emily” is found written pretty much all over the house.I must say, I have some serious mixed feelings about The Upstairs Room but the overwhelming one would probably be slight disappointment. While the chapters about the house were great, there were flashback chapters about life for the inhabitants before they moved into this house and they completely ruined the flow of the story. In an odd sort of way, it almost felt as if they were written by someone else entirely.I also didn’t really feel like they added anything, other than knowing everyone was miserable and none of the characters could apparently figure out what they wanted in life. There was way too much focus on past and present relationships. At about the halfway mark, I pretty much stopped caring about them altogether. What kept me reading was the mystery surrounding the upstairs room but there were no answers or explanations as to the why, how, or what and none of it was in any way creepy enough. Just when I thought things might finally get interesting and pick up, things fell flat.Maybe my expectations were too high but all in all, I’m feeling quite underwhelmed by the whole thing. Even the ending didn’t satisfy me one bit but I’m very picky about endings so that’s probably just me. I was obviously expecting something entirely different from this story than what I got and this book was just not for me. But don’t let that put you off.
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  • i.
    May 21, 2017
    A Victorian townhouse, a lovely couple with two wonderful children and a young lodger are the ingredients for one of the most unnerving and disturbing novels I have read this year. Eleanor and Richard are a nice couple who decide to buy a house in one of the most exclusive areas of London; in order to help with the expenses they rent the basement to Zoe, a young and lively girl.What makes the plot stand out is the combination of modern day life events and the disturbing presence of something or A Victorian townhouse, a lovely couple with two wonderful children and a young lodger are the ingredients for one of the most unnerving and disturbing novels I have read this year. Eleanor and Richard are a nice couple who decide to buy a house in one of the most exclusive areas of London; in order to help with the expenses they rent the basement to Zoe, a young and lively girl.What makes the plot stand out is the combination of modern day life events and the disturbing presence of something or someone in the upstairs room of the house. This townhouse slowly starts to affect the lives of all the characters in different and frightening ways: illness, strange accidents, erratic behaviour...Kate Murray-Browne has written a psychological terror novel that will appeal to many adult readers and fans of the genre and will certainly make you think twice before buying an old house without checking who (or what) lived there before.Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.www.theleisurediaries.blogspot.com
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  • Joanne Robertson
    July 17, 2017
    This is a darkly claustrophobic and atmospheric modern chiller that made me feel very uncomfortable whilst reading it. I wasn’t quite sure which way the storyline was going to go so that made me quite apprehensive about what was about to transpire and I kept waiting for a rational explanation of the unusual incidents that were occurring!The state of the housing market is at the heart of this gothic style ghost story. It’s so difficult to get on the housing ladder nowadays that more people are re This is a darkly claustrophobic and atmospheric modern chiller that made me feel very uncomfortable whilst reading it. I wasn’t quite sure which way the storyline was going to go so that made me quite apprehensive about what was about to transpire and I kept waiting for a rational explanation of the unusual incidents that were occurring!The state of the housing market is at the heart of this gothic style ghost story. It’s so difficult to get on the housing ladder nowadays that more people are renting, either on their own or in house shares. Here, Zoe moves into Eleanor and Richards basement as it helps them to afford the mortgage and renovation of their new home whilst providing her with affordable accommodation. Now I have done this in the past so understand how difficult it is to have a good relationship with the homeowners whilst still maintaining some privacy. I especially found the scenes where Zoe just eats a snack in her room rather than venture into the shared kitchen very realistic. I’ve also experienced the opposite though, when I had a lodger for a couple of years! It’s not easy for either party but sometimes there isn’t any alternative so it’s just a case of everyone having to adapt. But in The Upstairs Room, right from the start we realise that something very disturbing has happened in the house and therefore these relationships are even more strained. After moving in, Eleanor finds that the name Emily has been scribbled all over the room at the top of the house and she becomes obsessed with finding out about the previous owners and why they moved out. Has something dreadful caused an evil to be left behind or is it the house itself behind the unexplained illnesses and strange behaviours?There is a nightmarish feel to this slow burner, with the tension gradually creeping up on you with every chilling incident that occurs. The sleepwalking and the night terrors added extra depth to that intensity. The scenes where Zoe had sleep paralysis really struck a chord with me as I have had this happen to me in the past (only once but that was more than enough for me!!) And it was the most terrifying that has ever happened to me. I was convinced there was an evil spirit sitting on my chest and even the sound of my own breathing seemed menacing – I can honestly say I have never been so scared in my entire life. So I think I looked at this book with a different viewpoint to others, understanding that sometimes your brain interprets things in a way you can’t physically control or even easily explain. Maybe my scientific brain is always looking for the rational explanation and others will be less sceptical than I am!Nevertheless, I found it difficult to put this spine chiller down until I knew exactly where it was going to end and I wasn’t disappointed although as in real life, not every thread is finished off. The ethereal quality to the narrative means this book has remained with me for longer than I had expected so although I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped, I did find it an intriguing and unnerving read.
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  • Tina
    June 1, 2017
    I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is about a couple called Richard and Eleanor. They move into a Victorian house along with their two young children. Strapped for cash to do up their new home they take in a lodger called Zoe who used to work at the same firm as Richard. In the upstairs room Eleanor finds scrawls on the walls of the name Emily. Eleanor starts to feel very uncomfortable in the house. She also sees that the eldest of her two da I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is about a couple called Richard and Eleanor. They move into a Victorian house along with their two young children. Strapped for cash to do up their new home they take in a lodger called Zoe who used to work at the same firm as Richard. In the upstairs room Eleanor finds scrawls on the walls of the name Emily. Eleanor starts to feel very uncomfortable in the house. She also sees that the eldest of her two daughters is starting to be effected. I was honestly excited to read this book and expected to get a real scare. I knew that the scare would be more psychological than anything else. But for someone who gets scared easily I didn't get scared at all. The book read more like chicklit than psychological horror. There was a lot of focus on the relationships between Richard & Eleanor and also Zoe's relationships. The ending of this book was not very satisfying. It was an okay book with some well written true to life characters but just not what I was expecting.
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  • Jo Bunt
    May 23, 2017
    Liked it. Didn't love it. For the most part I felt on edge, worrying about this 'entity' in the upstairs room and, because of that, I kept turning the pages. I had to know what happened - which is pretty important in a book! On the downside, I didn't like any of the characters and also felt that there was no real resolution to the book. I wanted more - I wanted to know what it REALLY was in the upstairs room and why it was there. I was disappointed that they simply moved house at the end rather Liked it. Didn't love it. For the most part I felt on edge, worrying about this 'entity' in the upstairs room and, because of that, I kept turning the pages. I had to know what happened - which is pretty important in a book! On the downside, I didn't like any of the characters and also felt that there was no real resolution to the book. I wanted more - I wanted to know what it REALLY was in the upstairs room and why it was there. I was disappointed that they simply moved house at the end rather than deal with it. Shame really because it had a lot of promise but it didn't quite live up to expectations.
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  • Heather
    July 13, 2017
    Eleanor and Richard and their two young daughters have just moved into a Victorian house in London, which needs a lot of renovation. In order to cover their costs, they take in a lodger called Zoe, who lives in the basement.The house was abandoned by the previous owners, leaving some of their possessions, and also an attic room, where the name Emily has been repeatedly written in the wall, along with other images.The scene has been set for a creepy/ghostly story, as Eleanor investigates the hous Eleanor and Richard and their two young daughters have just moved into a Victorian house in London, which needs a lot of renovation. In order to cover their costs, they take in a lodger called Zoe, who lives in the basement.The house was abandoned by the previous owners, leaving some of their possessions, and also an attic room, where the name Emily has been repeatedly written in the wall, along with other images.The scene has been set for a creepy/ghostly story, as Eleanor investigates the house and the effect it has on the residents, especially her young daughter.Instead we get reams of back story of how Eleanor and Richard met, Richard’s thwarted ambitions, Eleanor’s mother, Zoe’s past, her new boyfriend, why she split from her old boyfriend…… and a small amount about how the house may be making Eleanor ill.I was really interested in what was wrong with the house, and became increasing frustrated by these unlikeable characters.There was a sort of explanation at the end, but the whole book was over-long, and in the end, unsatisfying.Thanks to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read this book.
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  • Beadyjan
    June 13, 2017
    A macabre, chilling and unsettling debut novel, The Upstairs Room is a contemporary take on the classic "young couple move into a new home that turns out to have something sinister lurking upstairs".Eleanor and husband Richard have found their new family home for themselves and their 2 young daughters. They know it will be a struggle financially to buy in a desirable area of London so they settle for an older property that "needs a bit doing" well frankly it needs quite a lot of renovation and r A macabre, chilling and unsettling debut novel, The Upstairs Room is a contemporary take on the classic "young couple move into a new home that turns out to have something sinister lurking upstairs".Eleanor and husband Richard have found their new family home for themselves and their 2 young daughters. They know it will be a struggle financially to buy in a desirable area of London so they settle for an older property that "needs a bit doing" well frankly it needs quite a lot of renovation and redecoration but they're young and enthusiastic and it can be a project for them to enjoy together.Bit it becomes more of a money pit than they imagined, and in order to keep their heads above water they rather reluctantly sub-let the basement to a young woman lodger and into the periphery of their lives comes Zoe. However living in this gloomy and outdated home soon makes Eleanor in particular begin to feel distinctly uneasy, in fact she begins to be frequently ill and fears its the house affecting her health.Plans to renovate are soon shelved and even redecorating the dark and outdated decor is beyond their means and the rooms remain gloomy and the unnerving scribble which adorns in particular an unused attic bedroom with the name Emily scrawled repeatedly together with disquieting drawings has to remain. Eleanor begins to find this writing concealed elsewhere in the house too.Whilst Eleanors life crumbles and Richard grows ever more distant, obsessed with planning and pointlessly plotting the elaborate restoration project which seems doomed to never happen. Their lodger Zoe's life seems to be taking a turn for the better, she gets a new job, OK it's not very stimulating and her lodgings aren't quite the chic city apartment she dreamed of but when a new man enters her life and romance seems likely, she feels quite settled ... or does she? Is the house somehow influencing everyone who lives there?It certainly seems to be having an adverse effect, even on the little girls, whose increasingly difficult behaviour becomes almost the final straw for struggling Mum Eleanor.All the way through the book is a creeping sense of unease and terror and the puzzle of whether it is in fact the house to blame, or the people within it?Its creepy and scary and gives you that lump in your throat which gulping hard just can't quite shift.I did consider the ending a little rushed and not quite as explosive as I hoped but the whole book is filled with creeping menace and subtle insinuations and its a real page turner that's sure to entertain and really makes you think how you'd react in some of the situations. The subtly flawed characters and the macabre location combine to create an engaging work of psychological horror.
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  • Aaron Nash
    June 9, 2017
    UPDATEDOk so i did just about manage to finish the novel. I seriously cant seem to DNF a book, regardless of how bad it is. OCD, hey ho. The problem with this book is that nothing happens at all. It starts with a family moving into a house and renting out the basement room to a lodger. You get the familiar horror tropes: the kids playing up acting posessed, the house making the mother feel ill, things being moved about etc etc. This all happens in the first 15% and then the rest of the novel is UPDATEDOk so i did just about manage to finish the novel. I seriously cant seem to DNF a book, regardless of how bad it is. OCD, hey ho. The problem with this book is that nothing happens at all. It starts with a family moving into a house and renting out the basement room to a lodger. You get the familiar horror tropes: the kids playing up acting posessed, the house making the mother feel ill, things being moved about etc etc. This all happens in the first 15% and then the rest of the novel is that just repeated over and over whilst adding in the odd backstory to characters that you dont give a damn about. In the end it never explains at all why the house is haunted, what is causing these things. The ending is so anti-climatic that it made me angry and had i been reading a hard copy i would have launched it across the room. Like i say nothing happens. You have a lot of build up that leads to sweet fuck all. As for isobel the lodger. A completely pointless character. She brings absolutely nothing to the story at all apart from her being in a confused relationship and unsure of what she wants in life. Grrrr im angry. What a waste of my time.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    May 10, 2017
    **4.5 stars**The Upstairs Room was so compelling and utterly creepy. A beautifully drawn character drama with added ghostly elements, I was entirely caught up in the lives of the characters from the first moment.I had a couple of restless nights the author creates such a sense of creeping menace, I'm fairly sure I'll still be feeling that for a while.Full review in July nearer publication
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  • Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
    May 3, 2017
    I could not put this book down. Really clever and very disturbing. I was actually fearful for parts of this book and that's hard to do. Low ratings baffle me unless you don't "get" this novel. Full review to follow.
  • Vicki
    July 29, 2017
    I was really looking forward to this book – it looks and sounds like a creepy ghost story, exactly what I was hoping for when I picked it up. And it started off really well. After just a few pages I was convinced I was going to love this book – enticed by the mysterious house and engaging writing style.It begins with Richard and Eleanor viewing a spooky, dated and badly in need of renovation, old Victorian house. Eleanor isn’t keen – there’s an eeriness about the house that makes her uncomfortab I was really looking forward to this book – it looks and sounds like a creepy ghost story, exactly what I was hoping for when I picked it up. And it started off really well. After just a few pages I was convinced I was going to love this book – enticed by the mysterious house and engaging writing style.It begins with Richard and Eleanor viewing a spooky, dated and badly in need of renovation, old Victorian house. Eleanor isn’t keen – there’s an eeriness about the house that makes her uncomfortable. Richard on the other hand, partly swayed by the surprisingly low price tag and the idea of a project convinces her and they move in with there young daughters. But old houses don’t come cheap and to boost their income, they take in a lodger Zoe, who rents the basement part of the house. As three adults settle into their new home, it becomes clear something isn’t quite right. Why is Eleanor so violently ill when in the house but ok when she leaves? What’s causing Zoe to sleepwalk and giving her nightmares? And who exactly is the little girl, Emily, whose name appears scrawled all over the house?So I was pulled into this book pretty quickly. The setting is tense, the atmosphere eerie and foreboding and the writing is of the style that absorbs the reader causing pages to speed by without even noticing. I was all curled up, shivering with anticipation and ready to be spooked by a deliciously sinister ghost – only it never quite happened. I felt this book didn’t quite get to where it was going, or perhaps where I was expecting it to be going.However, that’s not to say I didn’t like it, because actually, when I got past the fact it wasn’t the bump in the night ghost story I was expecting, I could actually appreciate how subtly sinister this book actually is. There’s a lot of heavy, oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere to The Upstairs Room, and not all of it is supernatural. The three adults of the house are all flawed, somewhat unlikeable and clearly unsatisfied with their lives. I think there’s some subliminal message about the emotional effects of adult unhappiness on children, and wondered if the ‘monster’ was actually the adults own despair at themselves. The meaning or story behind the ‘ghost’ is never fully resolved and very open to interpretation – which some readers might dislike. However I quite like a book that leaves me sitting thinking afterwards, and The Upstairs Room certainly did.It did dip a bit in the middle, and I became a little bit frustrated as the book flits back and forwards to Richard, Eleanor and Zoe’s past – it just didn’t interest me as much as the present story and what was happening in the house. But then the pace picked up again, things began to unravel and I enjoyed the final chapters very much. I have mixed feelings about this one – on the one hand I was disappointed that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations in the chills and thrills department, and thought it lost it’s way a bit in the middle. However, I loved the author’s use of atmosphere and subtle eeriness and thought her writing was very easy to read. I also liked the ambiguity of the ghost and enjoyed pondering my own theories regarding its meaning. Overall, a good book and definitely an author I’ll watch out for in future.
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  • 4cats
    April 27, 2017
    What do you want out of a horror novel? Do you want blood and guts or do you want a psychologically disturbing read? With The Upstairs Room you get the latter, this is a novel which throughout has an unnerving quality to it. The house itself could be any one on any street and its' occupants are living unremarkable lives. Eleanor and Richard are a typical modern couple, looking to buy in London, and so when they discover a house at a price they can't ignore, they buy and move their family in. The What do you want out of a horror novel? Do you want blood and guts or do you want a psychologically disturbing read? With The Upstairs Room you get the latter, this is a novel which throughout has an unnerving quality to it. The house itself could be any one on any street and its' occupants are living unremarkable lives. Eleanor and Richard are a typical modern couple, looking to buy in London, and so when they discover a house at a price they can't ignore, they buy and move their family in. They take on a lodger in the form of Zoe, to support their finances, Zoe again is looking for something more in her life, having recently broke up from a relationship. However, Eleanor starts to sense that things aren't quite right and we witness the disturbing atmosphere within the house mainly through Eleanor's eyes. The novel looks in depth at the characters lives, their desires, their quest for betterment and the relationships between them and their social circles. It is a novel that dwells upon the problems people face on a daily basis, job security, job satisfaction, home life, how others see us and what we want out of life. It is also a modern day ghost story which is filled with a sense of dread.
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  • Miss Jools
    June 23, 2017
    I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.4 starsThis book was a great mixture of contemporary fiction and paranormal horror (horror seems a bit of a strong word - but it's sort of accurate just don't expect anything extreme).We follow Eleanor & Richard as they move into their new home, a Victorian pile in London, along with their lodger Zoe.The book explores familiar themes in contemporary fiction - worry about careers, never being able to afford a house, stale and I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.4 starsThis book was a great mixture of contemporary fiction and paranormal horror (horror seems a bit of a strong word - but it's sort of accurate just don't expect anything extreme).We follow Eleanor & Richard as they move into their new home, a Victorian pile in London, along with their lodger Zoe.The book explores familiar themes in contemporary fiction - worry about careers, never being able to afford a house, stale and messy relationships and their lives, past and present, are explored in intimate detail - but what makes it interesting and ultimately more interesting than that is the slight horror element. The house doesn't deliver the dream home Eleanor & Richard had hoped for, but rather makes their life unbearable. There are several scenes that leave the reader sometimes wondering whether the paranormal activity is real or imagined which was rather well done - does it have a realistic explanation or is it something more sinister?I really enjoyed this - it was well written but very easy to read. When I had to put it down, I didn't want to and I was always eager to pick it back up. Minus one star for it getting a bit repetitive - some of the scenes between Eleanor & Richard were a bit samey and frustrating (but I suppose they were meant to be...)Recommended!
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  • Sharon
    June 3, 2017
    David Nicholls meets Hammer Horror - a contemporary genre-bending book about two relationships connected by a very creepy Victorian house. Eleanor and Richard have bought the house of their dreams - a Victorian townhouse in London. They rent the basement out to Zoe, a twenty-something year old receptionist at the development firm where Richard works. As Richard becomes slightly obsessed with keeping tabs on Zoe, Eleanor is convinced that something evil is at work in the house. The name "Emily" a David Nicholls meets Hammer Horror - a contemporary genre-bending book about two relationships connected by a very creepy Victorian house. Eleanor and Richard have bought the house of their dreams - a Victorian townhouse in London. They rent the basement out to Zoe, a twenty-something year old receptionist at the development firm where Richard works. As Richard becomes slightly obsessed with keeping tabs on Zoe, Eleanor is convinced that something evil is at work in the house. The name "Emily" appears in scrawls all over the walls, and her youngest child Rosie becomes more and more hostile. Eleanor soon realises that the house may be affecting her health, and vows to figure out what's going on.Meanwhile, Zoe is contemplating her life and comparing herself to others who seem to have done more. She has horrific nightmares and dreams about the presence of a young girl. Is the house starting to affect her too? I really enjoyed this, I'm a big fan of books that use houses as characters. This one was suitably creepy, a part involving pebbles gave me chills. It could have worked without Zoe's story, but that added a contemporary edge to what could otherwise have been a very gothic tale. Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a digital ARC via Netgalley.
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  • Jess Jackson
    June 4, 2017
    The Upstairs Room is a creepy atmospheric novel, that overall I enjoyed. Eleanor and Richard along with their two small children Rosie and Isobel, purchase an old Victorian house that is quite run down in a good part of London. Richard has grand plans to do up the house. They soon acquire a lodger called Zoe in their basement flat so they can earn some money. From the first viewing of the Eleanor is not keen on the house and it is not long after they have moved in that she becomes sick and assoc The Upstairs Room is a creepy atmospheric novel, that overall I enjoyed. Eleanor and Richard along with their two small children Rosie and Isobel, purchase an old Victorian house that is quite run down in a good part of London. Richard has grand plans to do up the house. They soon acquire a lodger called Zoe in their basement flat so they can earn some money. From the first viewing of the Eleanor is not keen on the house and it is not long after they have moved in that she becomes sick and associates her symptoms with something to do with the house. Their oldest daughter Rosie's behaviour soon becomes terrible which also compounds Eleanor's belief that there is something seriously wrong with the place. Richard soon becomes obssesd with the house and the right way to do it up, the entirety of the novel he is obsessing over paint/wallapers and other decorating ideas but never actually does anything. The story is told in present day with flashbacks from the main characters lives, I really enjoyed this as it did give some emotional depth to the characters and the situations that they had found themselves in. However with Zoe's I did feel that not all was necessary. There were some parts of the book I really enjoyed, and some I really did find creepy. However my overriding thought through half of this book was (view spoiler)[ When Eleanor sees that she becomes better when she stays with her mother/goes away for the weekend, wouldn't that make you just leave, surly thinking that the house was not only made you ill, but was significantly changing your child make you run for the hills? (hide spoiler)]Other than that main point I was really getting in to this book until the last couple of chapters when I felt like the author had just got bored and was trying to wrap everything up in a nicely contained package. I wanted an overall shock or conclusion. It just left me a bit 'Oh is that it?'
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  • Tracey Edges
    July 26, 2017
    How would you feel if you were ‘lucky’ enough to get a great offer accepted on your dream home? You’d be really excited, wouldn’t you, and be planning the schedule of works and be surrounding yourself with paint charts and enthusiasm - but what if you gradually began to realise that things aren’t all that they seem to be? The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne is a little bit creepy...I enjoyed this book – all the characters were believable and you could empathise with them all – although Richa How would you feel if you were ‘lucky’ enough to get a great offer accepted on your dream home? You’d be really excited, wouldn’t you, and be planning the schedule of works and be surrounding yourself with paint charts and enthusiasm - but what if you gradually began to realise that things aren’t all that they seem to be? The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne is a little bit creepy...I enjoyed this book – all the characters were believable and you could empathise with them all – although Richard, obsessed with his vision of how their home is going to be, when all is finished, doesn’t want to acknowledge that his dream could crumble and he keeps his blinkers firmly on, while Eleanor commences an increasingly desperate battle.Zoe the lodger, has a complex life, away from the house and this gives the story another dimension – a story within a story. What do you do when no one really wants to believe you? Who is, or was, Emily and what does she want?The suspense builds nicely as this family start to fight the house, and each other. It is well paced and you don’t know what is going to happen – the events could go in any direction.If you want something a bit on the different side, a mystery and spine-chilling thriller which is an easy, flowing read, and you don’t live in a spooky Victorian Townhouse, I can recommend The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-BrowneFULL REVIEW AT: http://bit.ly/2h41wms
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  • Nicki Southwell
    June 15, 2017
    Eleanor and Richard move into their new 4 bedroom house with their two daughters. They need to spend a great deal of time and money to get it up to an acceptable standard. They can just afford the mortgage but decide to find a tenant for the basement. Zoe enters their lives.The house has a very unpleasant feel to it. The top floor, which they are not using, has scribbled all over the walls with the name Emily. Eleanor starts to feel unwell but surprisingly feels better when she is not at home. Z Eleanor and Richard move into their new 4 bedroom house with their two daughters. They need to spend a great deal of time and money to get it up to an acceptable standard. They can just afford the mortgage but decide to find a tenant for the basement. Zoe enters their lives.The house has a very unpleasant feel to it. The top floor, which they are not using, has scribbled all over the walls with the name Emily. Eleanor starts to feel unwell but surprisingly feels better when she is not at home. Zoe feels very unsettled too.Eleanor finds out that before they moved in, the previous owners had fled but were described as odd. Both Eleanor and Richard work part-time so spend a lot of time at home. Who was Emily and what is the bad vibes in the house to do with them?I liked the characters in this book and the storyline is well written.I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are all my own and completely unbiased. My thanks to Netgalley for this opportunity.
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  • Natasha Ellis
    May 27, 2017
    Atmospheric, really good build up and I couldn't put it down. People have commented on the sex and being almost chick lit, I found that made the book more believable. A very good read.
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