This is a spoiler post! Do not read on unless you have already read The Family Upstairs or want to be spoiled.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
The Lamb family, including children Henry and Lucy
Birdie and Justin, the first adults to move into the Lamb house
The Thompsen family, including children Phineas and Clemency
“The Baby”, aka Libby/Serenity
The Family Upstairs Spoilers:
Originally just the Lamb family lived at 16 Cheyne Walk. Along the way, Martina Lamb (the mother) brought in some vagrants, and the house was turned into a small cult/commune. David Thompson was their charismatic leader. David and Birdie (another vagrant, but not David’s wife) imposed rules on all the other residents of 16 Cheyne Walk, essentially forbidding the others from leaving.
David had raped Lucy. He was sleeping with all the adult women in the house, but Lucy was only 14. David was 41.
Libby/Serenity was Lucy and Phin’s baby. Lucy had been sleeping with Phin and David at the same time.
Henry and Clemency made a plan to escape and rescue the baby. Henry was supposed to use his herbs to put the adults to sleep while they ran away to find Clemency’s mom. Henry overdosed the adults and killed them all, except for Birdie who was struck on the head during a struggle (she also died). Phin was sick and delirious. Henry staged the dead adults to look like a cult group suicide.
Henry had left Phin locked in his room because he was mad that he had impregnated Lucy (he was in love with Phin). Henry was planning to go back to kill him, but Phin was gone when he made it back to the room.
Lucy took Phin to the hospital and left the baby behind. By the time the doctor let Lucy leave the hospital, the police and social services had already found the baby. Henry was the one that stayed and fed and changed her.
In the “present” timeline, Libby went to the house after receiving it as an inheritance when she turned 25. There was a man sneaking in through the upstairs window–this was actually Henry, pretending to be Phin. Lucy was living in France with her two younger children. Recently homeless, she decided to go to England because the baby was getting her inheritance. As she was skint, she needed to sleep with her rich abusive ex in order to get passports and fares to get to England. He tried to rape her again, and she killed him in a panic.
Libby befriended Miller, an investigative journalist, who helped her uncover the truth about her family. Henry was kind of sketchy, locking them in a room, but explained away all his oddities.
Henry, Lucy, and Libby became good friends. Miller found Phin alive in Africa. When Miller and Libby planned to go to Africa to meet Phin, Henry asked to come along, implying he was going to try again to kill him in the next book.
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