The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell Raven Books October 5th 2017
Elsie Bainbridge is young, newly married and newly widowed. Pregnant with her dead husbands baby she is sent to The Bridge, a crumbling mansion in the middle of nowhere to wait for the babies arrival. Travelling with her is her husbands cousin, Sarah, quiet and bookish and not the companion Elsie was perhaps hoping for.
On arrival they are greeted by indifferent, untrained staff and a village who believe the house is cursed with bad omens and bad luck.
A search of the mansion uncovers a family diary and a cast of carved wooden figures, known as the Silent Companions, and Elsie and Sarah are soon embroiled in a nightmare they may not survive.
I love a good spooky story and this does not disappoint. Told via multiple timelines, we learn the history of the house and The Silent Companions, the experiences of Elsie and Sarah, and the aftermath as Elsie finds herself in a mental institution accused of a crime she is not sure she actually committed.
Sounds confusing??? It really isn’t and the various storylines fit seamlessly together increasing the intensity and the drama surrounding events in the house.
The characters are multi dimensional, Elsie so recently widowed, seems cold and harsh yet underneath, is grieving deeply for the husband she had for such a short time. Her time in the mental institution is brilliantly done, Purcell conveying the raw emotion and damage that Elsie has suffered but also posing many questions for the reader about Elsie’s innocence. Sarah is the intelligent, quiet one, dependent on Elsie for her hospitality, yet there is something that I found quite unsettling about her and couldn’t quite work out until later on in the story!
The scariest character has to be Grace, a mute with a love for gardening and growing herbs, an innocent young girl or is she?!
The crumbling mansion is the perfect setting and my imagination certainly went into overdrive thanks to Purcell’s brilliant vivid descriptions. Purcell is excellent at creating an atmosphere that is both very eerie and extremely spooky. When dead bodies start to appear the novel becomes even more chilling and disturbing.
I loved the ending, even if I did guess what it might be, and it certainly sent a shiver down my spine.
The Silent Companions has all the qualities of a good Gothic, Victorian novel. It is disturbing, deeply unsettling and the perfect book to curl up with on a dark chilly autumn night.
Thank you to Netgalley and Raven Books for the opportunity to read and review.
About the author.
Laura Purcell is an author of Gothic Victorian novels. She lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs.
Her next novel, The Corset, will be published in 2018