ABOUT THE BOOK:
A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.
READ AND EXCERPT:
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell is a 2018 Penguin Books publication.
The best Gothic Horror novel I’ve read in a long time!
Elsie, recently widowed, and pregnant with her first child arrives in a remote village, with her husband’s cousin, Sarah, to live in an old home, owned by her husband, referred to as ‘The Bridge’, which has not been lived in for quite some time. Due to her husband’s wealth, and his sudden death so soon after their marriage, rumors and scandal are breathing down Elsie’s neck, but the villagers and her limited staff are also quite superstitious about her, and the house.
While exploring the house, which is full of locked rooms, Elsie finds some old diaries, as well a ‘Silent companion’ – which is a painted wooden figure that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie.
The staff is terrified of the 'companions', but Elsie is determined to learn of their origins. As it happens, diary entries written by Anne Bainbridge back in the 1600s, provides Elsie with plenty of shocking family secrets-
The story is told in three alternating segments-
Elsie, badly burned in a fire, is under the care of a doctor who is attempting to discover her culpability in that fire and her level of sanity. As the doctor slowly draws the story from Elsie we are taken back to her arrival at ‘The Bridge’, as she explains her experiences leading up to the deadly fire. We are also transported back to the 1600’s via Anne’s diaries, where we learn Anne may have dabbled in a little witchcraft to conceive a child- a decision she may come to regret.
Wow! I let this book sit on my TBR list longer than I had intended. For some reason when I picked it up I was under the impression this was a historical mystery of some kind. I was totally taken off guard by the chilly ambience, the overwhelming Gothic tones, and the rip-roaring, spine tingling ghost story!! To say I was pleased is an understatement!
This is one of those stories that makes a good fireside read on a cold, dark winter night. It’s very well constructed, multi-layered, written in a lush, almost beautiful prose. I haven’t read a recently published novel of Gothic horror this good in…. I couldn’t tell you when.
This is what Gothic horror should look like- and feel like. The atmosphere was thick and heavy with impending doom, the suspense was taut, keeping me on edge and practically glued to the pages. I’d never heard of a ‘Silent Companion’ until I read this book. The history behind them is interesting, but in this case, they creeped me out big time.
This is a perfect, shivery, chiller with an OUTSTANDING conclusion that will blow your socks off!
Yep, this one goes on the favorites list, for sure!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs.
Her first novel for Raven Books THE SILENT COMPANIONS won the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award 2018 and featured in both the Zoe Ball and Radio 2 Book Clubs. It will be followed by THE CORSET in September 2018.
Laura’s historical fiction novels about the Hanoverian monarchs, QUEEN OF BEDLAM (2014) and MISTRESS OF THE COURT (2015), were published by Myrmidon.