Category Archives: Jennifer Fawcett

Review: Beneath the Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett

Title: Beneath the Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Horror
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In this spine-tingling, atmospheric debut for fans of Jennifer McMahon, Simone St. James, and Chris Bohjalian, a woman returns to her hometown after her childhood friend attempts suicide at a local haunted house—the same place where a traumatic incident shattered their lives twenty years ago.

Few in sleepy Sumner’s Mills have stumbled across the Octagon House hidden deep in the woods. Even fewer are brave enough to trespass. A man had killed his wife and two young daughters there, a shocking, gruesome crime that the sleepy upstate New York town tried to bury. One summer night, an emboldened fourteen-year-old Clare and her best friend, Abby, ventured into the Octagon House. Clare came out, but a piece of Abby never did.

Twenty years later, an adult Clare receives word that Abby has attempted suicide at the Octagon House and now lies in a coma. With little to lose and still grieving after a personal tragedy, Clare returns to her roots to uncover the darkness responsible for Abby’s accident.

An eerie page-turner, Beneath the Stairs is about the trauma that follows us from childhood to adulthood and returning to the beginning to reach the end.


Beneath the Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett is a ghostly mystery that is quite chilling.

Clare Madden returns to Sumner’s Mills, NY when she learns her estranged childhood friend, Abby Lindsay is in the hospital. Once inseparable, Clare and Abby lost touch after a terrifying incident at an abandoned house near their town. They first went into the house with their friends, Lori and Monica, but they are shaken by a frightening event. Later that night, they end up returning the Octagon House and Abby is never the same. Twenty years later, Abby inexplicably goes back into the house and afterward,  her parents ask Clare to come visit her in the hospital. At loose ends, Clare agrees to come back so she can try to finally put the past to rest.

Clare is a teacher and currently lives in Chicago. Her father has recently moved from Sumner’s Mills and when she is ready, he will sell her childhood home. Clare has never resolved the guilt she feels over what happened in the dilapidated house. When Abby sent her a few emails several months back, Clare’s nightmares about their childhood trips to the Octagon House begin again.

Upon returning to Sumner Mills, Clare agrees to meet Lori for the first time in years. During their discussion about Octagon House, she discovers unsettling information about the home’s history. Once she learns the identity of the house’s owner, Clare hopes to find answers about what happened to the person who built the house. Uncovering startling details, Clare knows the only way to get answers about why Abby was in the house is to return there herself. Will Clare finally understand exactly what exactly she believes she saw all those years ago? Can she find out the truth about Abby’s reason for going back into a place that inarguably changed the course of her life?

Beneath the Stairs is a spellbinding mystery with a slight element of horror. The small -own setting is a little claustrophobic and adds tension to the unfolding story. Clare is a sympathetic character whose habit of ignoring her problems and pushing away loved ones leaves her feeling very alone. Her investigation into Octagon house is quite compelling but will she be able to accept what she unearths? Seamlessly weaving both and forth in time, Jennifer Fawcett brings this suspenseful novel to a fully satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Atria Books, Beneath the Stairs, Contemporary, Horror, Jennifer Fawcett, Rated B+, Review, Suspense