I had a tough time with this book, to be honest. I read the summary and thought I would absolutely love it. I mean, what is scarier than a realistic story about neighbors that seem perfect at first glance and then become monsters? I was even sucked in early on, but the thrill quickly faded. So, kudos to the writer of the summary for the book, because it hooked me in. I just wish I enjoyed the book as much as I thought I would.
The story follows Jamie and Kirsty as they embark on a new life adventure: living together. The young couple finds the perfect paradise to start a new chapter in their lives and fall in love not only with their new apartment, but also with their seemingly normal neighbors. Paradise slowly plummets into hell with the downstairs neighbors, Lucy and Chris, turn their world upside down. Dead rats on the doorstep, banging from the floor, harassing letters and spam mail are just a few of the things Jamie and Kirsty have to deal with, but the pranks get increasingly violent just when they think the worst is over.
The first barrier for me was the language. It wasn’t to difficult, but I did not realize the book was set in London. So, I had to get used to reading about pounds, flats, and lifts, but this hurdle wasn’t too big.
With a description of a gripping psychological thriller, I thought this was going to be a perfect Halloween book choice. I was sucked in rather early because there was a sense of foreshadowing that the pranks, which started on the first night, were go into become increasingly violent and intense. I loved the idea of neighbors gone bad, but the story lost its luster for me about a quarter of the way through.
I had to make myself get back into the story, which is never a good sign. It all seemed too forced. I felt like there was so much filler to the story, like the sex scenes. I am not one to typically read romance novels that are full of overly descriptive sex scenes and this had the air of that type of novel. For a “psychological thriller,” there was more sex than I expected.
There was also a sense of “What should happen next.” The story lulled and then **SPOILER ALERT** Jamie’s best friend ends up in a coma. Ummm, okay. Then, predictably, he comes out of the coma, but a different man.
And then there was the whole pregnancy. From the moment Jaime and Kirsty moved into the apartment, there were hints about a pregnancy. The constant sex scenes, the hint that Kirsty stopped taking the pill, and the flash of light in the back of Jamie’s eyes during climax. Then, behold, Kirsty is pregnant.
It was all just too boring. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat. I wanted something else to happen, but all that happened was banging on the floorboards and letters from charities sent to Jamie and Kirsty that were requested by Lucy and Chris. It was lackluster for a thriller and seemed all too forced. The chapters were boring and often too long to get through in one sitting because of the missing thrill.
Then, the story finally picked up. The last 3 or 4 chapters is what I had been waiting for and really made reading the bulk of the novel worth it. **SPOILER** Kirsty moves out, Jamie goes a little crazy, and the apartment (including the basement) go up in flames with Chris still inside. We finally find out just how crazy Lucy and Chris are and why the novel was named The Magpies. I waited the entire book to find out where that title came from! But, then it just ends. I waited for a twist. For some kind of strange turn of events, like it was really the upstairs neighbors playing tricks on Jamie and Kirsty the whole time and blaming Lucy and Chris for everything. I was hoping that something else would happen, but nothing did. It just ended. Jamie went his way, Kirsty hers, and Lucy gets away with everything.
Where is my finale? Where is the thrill? Where is the story?
It was all too predictable. I knew from the moment of the first hoax on the first night, that is was the basement neighbors. From the dinner party, I realized that Lucy and Chris would befriend them and everything would go wrong. I even predicted something bad would happen at the race track with the way it was hinted that Paul and Chris were becoming too competitive.
There were some definite ups to the story and parts that were creepy because they were realistic. And then, there were parts that were too dramatic, or boring, or just unrealistic. Part of the appeal of a psychological thriller, for me, is the realistic quality. The “This could happen to me” feeling. This didn’t have me believing a large portion of the events.
C’est la vie