Misleading omens and untrustworthy figures abound in this chilling tale about a couple who move into a murder house.
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Why I love it
Author, The Last Word
“Want a great deal on a house? Buy one where someone was murdered!”
So begins The Stranger Upstairs, with one of my new favorite first sentences. Reading this book feels like riding an ever-accelerating rollercoaster. Debut author Lisa M. Matlin drops one dizzying twist after another until reality threatens to disintegrate before our eyes—and like the best haunted-house tales, the true monsters may have been living inside us all along.
When we first meet therapist and social media queen Sarah Slade she has just taken on a doozy of a house-flipping challenge: Melbourne’s infamous Black Wood House. Sarah doesn’t mind that the prior occupants perished in a grisly murder-suicide, or that her new neighbors would rather see the place razed than renovated. And she is hardly just the house’s next innocent victim—behind her polished persona, Sarah carries disturbing secrets of her own. In this matchup from hell, pinning a fascinating question-mark of an antiheroine against a house straight out of classic gothic horror, who will prevail?
The Stranger Upstairs is everything I want in a psychological thriller: it’s spookily atmospheric, genuinely surprising, and even delivers some dark humor (#murderhouse) with a welcome mean streak. I had a blast with this book, and I think you will, too.
Sarah Slade is starting over. As the new owner of the infamous Black Wood House—the scene of a grisly murder-suicide—she’s determined that the fixer-upper will help reach a new audience on her successful lifestyle blog, and distract her from her failing marriage.
But as Sarah paints over the house’s horrifying past, she knows better than anyone that a new façade can’t conceal every secret. Then the builders start acting erratically and experiencing bizarre accidents—and Sarah knows there’s only so long she can continue to sleep in the bedroom with the bloodstained floor and suffer the mysterious footsteps she hears from the attic.
When menacing notes start appearing everywhere, Sarah becomes convinced that someone or something is out to kill her—her husband, her neighbors, maybe even the house itself. The more she remodels Black Wood House, the angrier it seems to become.
With every passing moment, Sarah’s life spirals further out of control—and with it, her sense of reality. Though she desperately clings to the lies she’s crafted to conceal her own secrets, Sarah Slade must wonder. . . was it all worth it? Or will this house be her final unraveling?