Book of the Month usually delivers me with really great thrillers that sound incredible on paper and once I crack them open, can go either way -- they become household favorites or stories I forget about the minute I close the cover. 

The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa Matlin falls somewhere in between. It was a great story, with shocking plot twists, and excellent writing, but the ending fell so flat for me it knocks off a few stars. It was a mix of everything I love in a good thriller and some readers might love the ending because it was more realistic... it just wasn't what I was expecting.

If you are looking for something interesting and scary to read, I think The Stranger Upstairs by fit the bill.

Publisher's Summary

A therapist and self-help writer with all the answers, Sarah Slade has just bought a gorgeous Victorian in the community of her dreams. Turns out, you can get a killer deal on a house where someone was murdered. Plus, renovating Black Wood House makes for great blog content and a decent distraction from her failing marriage. Good thing nobody knows that her past is just as filthy as the bloodstain on her bedroom floor.

But the renovations are fast becoming a nightmare. Sarah imagined custom avocado wallpaper, massive profits, and an appreciative husband who wants to share her bed again. Instead, the neighbors hate her guts and her husband still sleeps on the couch. And though the builders attempt to cover up Black Wood’s horrifying past, a series of bizarre accidents, threatening notes, and unexplained footsteps in the attic only confirms for Sarah what the rest of the town already knew: Something is very wrong in that house.

With every passing moment, Sarah’s life spirals further out of control—and with it, her sense of reality. But as she peels back the curling wallpaper and discovers the house’s secrets, she realizes that the deadly legacy of Black Wood House has only just begun.

My Thoughts

This book was not what I expected in the least bit. It had a lot of twists and turns, a lot of unexplored paths, and a lot of surprising endings. The premise started out really promising; it was a very unexpected protagonist who was not a trustworthy narrator, but you don't really know that until the first few chapters. 

What was the real reason she bought the haunted house? What is the problem with her husband? Who is stalking her and making her go crazy? 

Sarah is an interesting character to be inside of; you never really know what she is going to do, how she's going to react, or if what she's saying is the truth. When all is said and done, and you get the full picture, you realize that she's definitely not who she seems and that the skeletons in her closet are big ones. 

Some of the twists and reveals that happened at the midpoint of the book were so out of left field, I felt like I had whiplash. I actually had to close the book to catch my breath because I was so stunned. That's my favorite kind of twist in a thriller! 

As mentioned above, the ending felt random and out of place. I didn't see it coming and was expecting something completely different but I don't think it ruined the book for me, it just didn't fit what I had in my mind.

I will say, this book did terrify me. It was so scary at times I couldn't read it at night. Now that I live alone, I can't really read thrillers at night before I go to bed because it just gives me the creeps, but I think because this had to do with a haunted house, I was even more inclined to leave it for daytime hours.

The Stranger Upstairs was not what I was expecting but it was a really well written, well thought out, sometimes sad, and interesting book. If you're looking for something off the cuff of other thrillers, I think you'll enjoy this one!


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