The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne
(Picador, 2017)

The Upstairs Room

by Kate Murray-Browne

What if the house you lived in was destroying you?

Eleanor and Richard, with their two young daughters, have moved into their dream house in Hackney. Well, Richard’s dream, actually: big, Victorian, slightly gloomy.

Like almost everyone in London, they can’t really afford where they live. So they bring in a lodger to help pay the mortgage: 27-year old Zoe, who inhabits the self-contained flat in their cellar, but shares a front door with the family.

Eleanor takes against the house immediately. At first she’s merely uneasy. Soon, she is physically ill, and desperate to solve the mystery of the previous owners. Who is Emily, and why is her name written hundreds of times on the wall behind the sofa? What happened in the closed room on the top floor?

The Upstairs Room is a ghost story. But more importantly it’s a novel about the city: about the impossibility of sharing our lives and our spaces with one another, and all the different ways our lives could have turned out, and still might.


The Upstairs Room is the real thing. Frightening and clever and full of atmosphere”
- Susan Hill, bestselling author of The Woman in Black
An incredible read. Clever, chilling, I couldn't put it down”
- Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep
A gripping and impressive story of mounting terror. Spellbinding”
- John Carey
'A very impressive debut . . . a strikingly unusual, unsettling narrative that makes you want to read on to the end”
- Michael Frayn
Kate Murray-Browne is a wonderful writer and The Upstairs Room is a brilliantly evoked, sure-footed debut about loneliness, compromise, illness, housing, ambition, jealousy, failure and love -- not to mention a terrifying room”
- Robert Williams, author of Into the Trees