Book review: The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald

I took this book with me to read while I was on holiday. The Mother’s Mistake by Ruth Heald was one of my favourite books this year so I was very excited to get the chance to read this one. Like The Mother’s Mistake, The Woman Upstairs is a domestic noir story that takes place in a home where life could be idyllic but turns out to be the very opposite.

You’d be lost without her… 

She’s the shoulder you cry on when the father of your children disappears. 

She’s the person you turn to when he comes back, begging for forgiveness. 

She’s by your side when you discover his guilty secrets.

She helps rock your babies to sleep when they cry. 

She’s your friend when you have no one else. 

She’s the woman upstairs, whose feet you hear treading around as you drift off at night, thankful you aren’t alone. 

But what if you’re about to lose everything because of her? 

At 36 Katie’s working as a barista and still living in a rented flatshare when she finds herself pregnant with twins by Ian, a man she hasn’t known long. For the babies’ sake she decides to do the grown-up thing and make a go of things with property developer Ian, accepting his invitation to move in with him into a house owned by his company – a large, impressive house she’d never have dreamed of owning.

Once inside, however, she finds the house is almost derelict. Ian gets it refurbished but has to go away on business a few weeks before the twins are born. In his absence Katie’s befriended by Paula, a woman who has grown up in the area and is a doula. When the twins are born earlier than expected and Ian is still away in Thailand Paula’s there to help.

Running alongside Katie’s story is another narrative told by a young child trapped with a sibling in a horrible home situation. Who are they and what do they have to do with Katie’s house?

My review: a white knuckle read! If you enjoy tense, chilling domestic noir stories I highly recommend this one. For me it certainly lived up to its description as a shocking psychological thriller and I couldn’t put it down. The plot keeps twisting, revelations are teased out along the way and there are some very damaged and dangerous characters.

Despite reading it in glorious sunshine and beautiful surroundings I had no difficulty imagining the scenes. I sensed where the story was going and there were moments when I found myself screaming at Katie to avoid the traps she walks into but just like a good horror film this all adds to the spiralling tension and anticipation.

Thanks to the publisher Bookouture for a review copy of this book via NetGalley. This review is my unbiased opinion.


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