The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell – Book review

So The Family Remains is the sequel to The Family Upstairs – a psychological thriller I very much enjoyed reading last month. It picks up where its predecessor left off, while effectively filling in the back-story for context. You could read The Family Remains as a stand-alone, but would recommend reading the books in sequence to get the most from them.

An unusual family

Henry, Lucy and Libby – who we met in book one – are again narrators here and we are introduced to a few new key characters too: Rachel and Samuel.

Rachel shares an ex-husband with Lucy and her appearance does add more depth to Lucy’s story. DI Samuel Owusu is working on an intriguing case… a bag of bones discovered in the Thames. He soon discovers they belong to a woman murdered 25 years ago, in Henry and Lucy’s house…

Growing up, siblings Henry and Lucy had a traumatic childhood. Henry developed an obsession with Phin, a boy they grew up with. Phin disappeared and at the end of The Family Upstairs, Libby (and her boyfriend) tracks down his whereabouts. That’s the main hook for this book – the family trying to find Phin.

Well that’s convenient…

While I once again really liked the writing style here – it was effortless to get into – at few moments in the book it just felt like certain things were more than a little too convenient. I know this is something necessary to move the plot forward and actually get through a story but the instances felt very obvious and a bit wedged in here, to be honest. It did take me out of the story slightly.

There is also the contradiction of Henry. Initially pitched as the unlikeable villain, he is a distrustful narrator you can get behind, but then he has a redemption arc and that killed his USP for me. The ending of the book went to a place I wasn’t expecting – I was looking forward to something a lot juicier.

So while, sadly, The Family Remains didn’t live up to The Family Upstairs for me, it was still an engrossing little thriller – if you don’t question too much and just go with it!

  • Get your copy of The Family Remains here;
  • Published by Century July 2022;
  • 448 pages;
  • My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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