Madison Butchko

Thrillers have always been my go-to genre whenever I fall into the dreaded reading slump. But once I immerse myself in gripping narratives, I know I won’t be able to stop reading. Good thrillers are addictive. Such was my experience with Freida McFadden’s widely popular series, “The Housemaid.” With three books slated for publication and the third one anticipated later this year, I eagerly dived into the first two installments, and here’s what I thought about them.

“The Housemaid”

This domestic thriller centers around Millie, the main character, who secures a job as a maid for the affluent Winchester family. Hired on the spot by Nina, the wife, Millie moves into their mansion, living in the attic bedroom. For Millie, who is homeless, this job signifies a fresh start.  However, Millie harbors secrets of her own — secrets that the Winchesters are unaware of, including her recent release from jail. As tensions escalate and the family’s hidden truths emerge and no one is safe.

This was definitely my favorite of the two. What I loved most was the constant plot twists — there wasn’t just one at the end, but surprises scattered throughout the entire book. The little hints dropped along the way kept me guessing, always on my toes, trying to piece everything together. It felt like solving a puzzle, with everything clicking into place by the end. I appreciated how each character had a background story, and how everything eventually intertwined. Overall, definitely one of my favorite thrillers.

5 / 5 


“The Housemaid’s Secret” 

“The Housemaid’s Secret” still follows Millie, but she is now working for a new family, the Garricks. Millie begins her job, but when she sees Mrs. Garrick with spots of blood around her neck gown, Millie fears for the worse. Millie begins to wonder what is really going on between Mr. Garrick and Mrs. Garrick and she begins to do her own digging. 

This book features some of the same characters. It could be a standalone and the plot would still make sense, but to really get all of the details and connections I would highly recommend reading the first book. 

I found the first part of this book to be a bit slow, with numerous events occurring without clear purpose. However, the pace significantly improved after the 50 percent mark, with the latter part of the book being a ton of fun and entertaining. While twists at the end were great, I felt that the conclusion was somewhat rushed and abrupt. Despite this, I still found myself unable to put the book down, and overall, I enjoyed the experience.

4.5 / 5 


On Frida McFadden:

Writing Style: 3.5 /5 

The biggest pro is that her straightforward and uncomplicated style makes for an accessible reading experience. I found myself flying through both novels, reading them both in just a few hours. With a clear and simpler writing style, don’t expect to be moved by deeply emotional prose. McFadden’s prose itself isn’t particularly captivating or poetic. Her writing fulfills the expectations of a thriller genre where the plot takes precedence over prose. Ultimately, while McFadden’s writing style is not a standout asset, it doesn’t detract from the overall mystery and suspense elements. 


Characters: 3.8 / 5 

The characters in McFadden’s series were enjoyable, although I didn’t form particularly strong attachments to them. While there were some minor annoyances, they didn’t detract from my engagement with the story. For instance, I felt that Enzo could have been more developed, and I wished for more depth to the main character, Millie, and her backstory. McFadden had the potential to delve deeper into these aspects. Most of the book is narrated from Millie’s first-person perspective, which I found enjoyable. Additionally, occasional glimpses into other characters’ perspectives added depth and a twist on the perspectives. McFadden’s books prioritize plot over character development, with the characters primarily serving as vessels to propel the narrative forward, rather than possessing complexity or emotional depth.


Plot: 5 / 5 

The core of McFadden’s books lies in their plot, which more than compensates for shortcomings in the writing and character development. Thriller novels, in my opinion, hinge on their plot above all else, and McFadden’s series certainly delivers in this regard. Her plots are layered with numerous twists and turns that keep readers guessing. What I appreciate most is that there are multiple twists and they build upon each other. 

The characters’ unreliability heightens the suspense by presenting a series of contrasting perspectives alongside the sequence of events. When the perspectives shift, it offers a fresh lens through which to view familiar events, turning the narrative on its head. McFadden excels in leading readers down one path before completely subverting their expectations, and it’s this skillful manipulation of plot and perspective. If you’re seeking a book with a gripping and eventful plot filled with twists, I recommend diving into this series.


When picking up a book, I felt that I had to learn something from everything I read, making it a challenge to get into longer, more complex books. But reading doesn’t always have to be an intellectual pursuit — it can be for an escape or for entertainment. That’s why I love thrillers. Thrillers are not for deep reflection, but for enjoyment and entertainment. So, if you’re looking for a quick and enjoyable mystery, McFadden’s series is a great start.