Book Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Title: The Wife Upstairs

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Thriller

Content/Trigger Warnings: Murder, mentions of drowning, blackmail, forced captivity, infidelity, blood, alcohol, alcohol abuse

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links:

One Sentence Synopsis:

A young dog-walker named Jane, who has a past filled with secrets, finds her path crossing with the mysterious, handsome Mr. Rochester, who’s past may be just as dark as hers.

Favorite Quote:

“I’ve gone so long trying not to be seen that there’s something intoxicating about letting him really see me.”

When it comes to thrillers, my tastes can be quite varied. But there is one thing that is consistent throughout all the thrillers I have loved: they pull me into the narrative quickly. I like slower paced books when it comes to things like epic fantasy and romance (give me all that delicious build up!), but I like my thrillers to be fairly fast paced. If it snatches my attention within the first chapter, I’ll probably love it! With The Wife Upstairs, I knew within the first couple of pages that this was gonna be a hit.

The story follows Jane, a down-and-out young woman who has recently moved to a new town and is looking to start a new life. After taking a dog-walking gig in a ritzy neighborhood, her new life takes a sharp turn when she runs into (read: is almost run over by) Eddie Rochester. Eddie is wealthy, charming, and handsome and Jane soon finds herself swept up into a world she knows little about. A world of priveledge and wealth that she could get used to. But, though Jane has some secrets in her past that she would like to forget, they may be nothing compared to the skeletons hiding in Mr. Rochester’s closet.

Y’all, this book was a thrilling ride from start to finish. And, even though it was dark as hell, it was just fun! It sounds weird saying that about a book with, ya know, murder, but it was! I think it was because this is a very clear retelling of Jane Eyre, which is one of my favorite classics. I’m sure it was a little too on-the-nose for a lot of people, but I loved picking out how the author shifted the story to fit into her narrative.

I also loved that this Jane has a darker side. She’s certainly a bolder version, if not the smartest cookie in the box. She would make some dumb decisions that did cause me to pause and think, “Really, Jane?” Ya know that meme with the Black man saying “Oh no baby, what is you doin”? That was on repeat in my head as I read about Jane’s escapades. And, yet, I still had a great time following her character! There is something about Rachel Hawkins writing that just made her relatable and intolerable all at the same time. And I loved it!

I also enjoyed that this was a fast-paced story with well placed twists. I loved the gothic feel of it, even though it was set in a modern day suburb. I loved the tension and suspense that is a constant companion as you turn the pages. The ending left a little something to be desired and I could have done without the epilogue, but, overall, this was a well-crafter thriller that had me absolutely captivated.

Final thoughts: Do you like fast-paced thrillers? Did you read and enjoy Jane Eyre and are okay with kind of on-the-nose retellings? Then I definitely think you should give The Wife Upstairs a shot! It is intensely readable and hard to put down once you start. It’s a quick read that wraps up up entirely in the lives of the characters, which I loved. Jane has a lot of moments that make you want to shake her, but I loved that the author could make her relatable at the same time. The writing is gripping, the gothic vibes are on point (even in the ‘burbs!), and the twists, though not terribly surprising, still grab you by the throat. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, but it didn’t leave me feeling dissatisfied. Overall, this book was a win and it definitely has me hyped to read everything else by this author!


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