You let them back in, you shouldn’t have: We Used to Live Here by Marcus Kliewer #bookreview #WeUsedtoLiveHere #NetGalley

The Turn of the Key meets Parasite in this eerily haunting debut and Reddit hit—soon to be a Netflix original movie starring Blake Lively—about two homeowners whose lives are turned upside down when the house’s previous residents unexpectedly visit.
As a young, queer couple who flip houses, Charlie and Eve can’t believe the killer deal they’ve just gotten on an old house in a picturesque neighborhood. As they’re working in the house one day, there’s a knock on the door. A man stands there with his family, claiming to have lived there years before and asking if it would be alright if he showed his kids around. People pleaser to a fault, Eve lets them in.
As soon as the family enters their home, strange and inexplicable things start happening, including their toddler going missing and a ghostly presence materializing in the basement. Even more weird, the family can’t seem to take the hint that their visit should be over. And when Charlie suddenly vanishes, Eve slowly loses her grip on reality. Something is terribly wrong with the house and with the visiting family—or is Eve just imagining things?

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Hi and welcome to my review of We Used to Live Here!

I spotted We Used to Live Here on social media and I immediately felt drawn to it. Something about the title and the cover gave me Shirley Jackson vibes and even though I can’t say I’m Jackson’s biggest fan, it did make me want to read We Used to Live Here right away. I’m so happy I gave in to this particular urge, as it ended up being everything I’d hoped it would be, and more.

Let me just say that if you’re looking for a ghost story, look no more, you’ve found your next obsession. It is very rare for me to actually find a thriller / horror story scary. Unsettling, sure. Creepy, yes. Scary, not so much. But We Used to Live Here seamlessly shifts through all those vibes. I was so happy I was reading certain scenes in broad daylight, had I been reading them in bed at night, I probably wouldn’t have slept a wink.

I love thrillers and horror stories that weave psychology into the fictional narrative to up the feeling of reality and plausibility. This is something Marcus Kliewer does to a t. I started questioning everything and I love when that happens, with this type of book at least. Should I take things at face value or is something more going on?

If you don’t like loose threads, you might take offence at We Used to Live Here. On the other hand, I generally don’t like dangling threads either but for some reason, they didn’t bother me here. I think that’s because they seem to reinforce the story and the creepiness of it all. And for me, that open ending just drives home the scariness of the story.

We Used to Live Here is an absolutely fantastic debut novel, which, incidentally, started out as a serialised short story on Reddit where it won the Scariest Story of 2021 award on the NoSleep forum. I had a great time with it, even if, or maybe because, I felt genuinely scared during some of it. I would definitely recommend it to fans of psychological horror.

We Used to Live Here is out in hardcover, digital formats and audio on 20 June.

Massive thanks to Bantam and NetGalley for the DRC. All opinions are my own. 

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