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Monday, 24 July 2017

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

About 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.

My review of The Upstairs Room

The Upstairs Room is a modern gothic ghost story that I could not put down. It's deliciously clever, thought provoking and ultimately disturbing...I loved it!

The book centres around Eleanor and Richard who move into their dream new home in Lichfield Road, East London, with their two young daughters, Rosie and Isobel. The house was a quick sell, as the previous family simply up and left, leaving the home vacant for its new occupants. Their new Victorian home is vast, and as they have pushed themselves to the limits financially, they are forced to take in a lodger, Zoe, who is 27, to make up some much needed money.

This book is very much a contemporary drama, that highlights the issues of today. Those issues of trying to peruse a career with small children, childcare, the mortgage and the life work balance. All of these issues are tackled with empathy and realism, I believed in these three characters. Eleanor the mum who wants it all but is struggling to find her own identity, Richard the provider who wants the dream home, and Zoe, the young woman who has a string of disastrous relationships behind her and who works in an art shop but is not an artist. They all fascinated me, and were incredibly real to me, I think because of the amount of detail that was given to their daily lives and their innermost thoughts. For me, the most interesting was Eleanor. Perhaps this was because she was a mother like me, meaning that I could best identify with her. I felt the most empathy towards her, I wanted her to enjoy living in her new home, to be happy.

The ghostly element comes form the Upstairs Room in their new home. This aspect of the story is very well written, and I can't say any more without spoiling the story. I do think that houses hold memories and that you get a feeling about a home as soon as you set foot in it. This is what happens to Eleanor when she visits the house for the first time. She gets an odd feeling when she goes up to the top floor, but she can't explain why this is so. I do believe that you get a sense of a home when you visit it for the first time, that good or bad vibe, and this is what the author so eloquently describes. The way in which Eleanor reacted to this upstairs room, felt very real to me.

This book is unsettling, and blends beautifully the supernatural world with the normal everyday world that we all live in. The author does so in such a way, that I believed in what I was being told. The Upstairs Room is a gothic tale for the modern era. The hosing crisis that we are all in at the moment, plays out beautifully in this novel, albeit with a ghostly twist. If you love counterparty fiction that is a little bit different, then you will love The Upstarts Room...I most certainly did.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy

The Upstairs Room published by Picador on 27 July 2017 is available to pre order from Amazon here.

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