Book Cover for the wife upstairs by rachel hawkins
Published: January 5th 2021
A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins's The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda. Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled…


The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, first and foremost is a quick, easy and very predictable mystery thriller. It leans towards a domestic suspense more than it does a mystery thriller. I feel it is important to have this in mind before getting into this novel. With that in mind, one will be able to fully appreciate the entertainment factor worth giving the author credit for. Personally I tend to be harder on thrillers and suspense than other genres when it comes to reviews and rating. This is because, I believe the essence and beauty of the thriller genre is to feel it eerily drift off the pages and creep into one’s mind. To be unsettling, to be blown away, to be disturbingly engrossing, and have the mind running with intensifying uncertainties, even after completing a novel.

“I am just a girl who got caught up in other people’s bullshit. Who Got to taste a different life only to have it taken away, because that’s just how it always goes”

~Excerpt from The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins.

Secondly, another factor worth mentioning, to those that have read the classic Jane Eyre. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is a somewhat retelling of Jane Eyre. I say “somewhat” because, although there’s an obvious enough similarity in the plot and gothic nature of Brontë’s classic and Hawkins’ modern retelling. I am unable to precisely compare the two novels.

Plot & Pacing; The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins.

This perfectly-paced slow burn novel takes off about midway through the story, with the first half in steady suspense (nothing like a thriller). There are four different interesting perspectives with alternating narrations of present and past time. The alternating perspectives made the secret reveals and hidden agendas fun and fast-paced, and also made learning about about each character’s story better than having to read from just one perspective or narration. Ignoring some unbelievable loop holes in plot, setting and narration at times, I surprisingly had fun reading this novel. Most especially because of the author’s skillful writing style. Hawkins’ writing is remarkably engaging. With short, quick and easy to read chapters. Hawkins’ writing style has a smooth, gentle flow that keeps you entertained and engaged in the story.

Entailing dysfunctional relationships, liars, cheats and infidelity. In addition to class, identity, secrets and gossipy neighbors, all of which are atypical of the southern society group portrayed in the novel.

In addition, Hawkins did a great job building up Jane’s secret, although the secret ended up being disappointing FOR ME, it didn’t match the hype created by the build up. Admittedly, considering how predictable the storyline is, I kind of expected it.

A man who overestimates his intelligence is a man who can be easily manipulated. Turns out, he’s also a man who can be dangerous.

~Excerpt from The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins.


“This sordidness. this violence? Did it cling to me like some kind of virus infecting anyone who got close to me?”

~Excerpt from The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins.

Firstly I have to be vague with the characters so as not to give any spoilers. The first and only word that comes to mind when I think of the characters in this novel is TOXIC. I particularly didn’t care for any of the characters, they’re all unlikable. I couldn’t bring myself to root for any of them, regardless I was invested. Everything about them and their actions seemed stereotypical and contrived. They are all, if not equally toxic, untrustworthy and immoral. Especially the main characters, whose flawed relatability made them deserving of one another. This is what makes them tolerable. The whirlwind relationship between Jane and Eddie was annoyingly unbelievable. I feel Hawkins had us believe there was romance between them without actually showing or telling us enough to back it up.


Above all, I must say I am more than okay with the mediocrity of this novel. Despite the author not taking a bigger leap to be more surprising and climactic, It did not bother me at all. The ending was satisfactory, more could’ve been said and done.

I personally wouldn’t categorize The Wife Upstairs as a mind blowing, extremely captivating modern-gothic mystery thriller. It is undoubtedly unputdownable, due to the entertainment factor skillfully expressed in writing by the author.

A good recommendation.

3.7Overall Score

The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is a fast-paced modern-gothic mystery. Predictable yet engrossing, a lighter & brighter retelling of the classic Jane Eyre.

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Pacing
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6 thoughts on “The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins”

    I really love how mysteries and secrets unfold when the book lets you discover them from different perspectives. The excitement that comes with it is always jaw dropping. I love reading books with flawed characters and not the stereotypical perfect human beings. Reminds me of how each person in reality has even if it’s the tiniest crack on the shell. Although, some characters push you to the edge due to how revolting they can be. Amazing review, you just keep getting better and better! Looking forward to the next one


    Omg we’re in sync! I’m almost done reading this novel. It’s like you took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn’t agree more with the whole Eddie and Jane whirlwind romance. Rachel Hawkins wasn’t selling it 👎🏼

    I’m going to read this book next💃🏼💃🏼 It seems like it’s the kind of book I neeeed right now. Amazing review. We appreciate you ❤️

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