BOOK REVIEW: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge.
With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home is a locked room and beyond its door lies a two-hundred year old diary hinting at the house's dark past, and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure- a silent companion- that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself...

Publisher: Raven Books
Pages: 364

What a fantastic start to my reading year, The Silent Companions is seriously creepy but fantastic. The book begins in 1866 where we meet Elsie who is currently residing in St. Joseph's hospital  which is an asylum for the insane. It becomes clear that she has been accused of murder but is so disturbed by events that she is unable to speak. Dr Shepherd wants to help her as he does not believe her a murderess as others are saying. He asks her to write down her story on a chalk board and this is how the reader learns of Elsie's terrifying ordeal. Widowed and heavily pregnant, Elsie is sent to her late husband's country estate, The Bridge, to rest and have her baby. She has her husband's cousin Sarah for company but neither are prepared for what awaits them at the house. No-one in the village will work in the house as they believe it cursed so the staff is tiny and the house in a bad way. It is the perfect Gothic haunted house- crumbling facade, rooms full of dust sheets and plenty of dark corners. On hearing strange noises in the night, Elsie and Sarah discover a locked garret and on forcing their way in, she and Sarah find a diary from the house's previous mistress and recounts the house's tragic past. Along with the diary they find a silent companion. It is a life-size wooden cut-out in the shape of a person who looks weirdly like Elsie. On reading the diary, they discover where the silent companion came from and the events that took place once it and others were in the house. Elsie and Sarah are unsettled but fascinated and take the companions out of the locked room, this when events spiral out of control. The silent companions multiply and more appear around the house and they themselves move between rooms without any help. Elsie is scared for her life, is she going mad or has she released something evil into the house that she cannot control?
The Silent Companions is beautifully written. I love Gothic fiction and Laura Purcell does it brilliantly. I would put her straight up there with Daphne Du Maurier and Susan Hill. Her descriptions and use of language are just stunning. I could vividly picture The Bridge and the companions. I marvelled at how she managed to make a piece of wood so creepy and malevolent; The Silent Companions takes a hold of your imagination in the same way they take over the house within the book.
The style and pace of the book make it a truly compelling read, even when I was a little freaked out, I could not stop reading. Elsie is an excellent creation, we see the events through her eyes but she brings so much more to the book; her past is just as tragic as her present and I felt so protective of her by the end.
I cannot recommend The Silent Companions enough, it s is a scary read but it's worth a couple of sleepless nights, I think Laura Purcell has written a future classic.

1 comment:

Emma S said...

Just been looking through your reviews to see what I can get on my next store purchase, I was sad to find out that this isn't even out yet! :(

Will keep an eye out for this as your review of the book makes it sound amazing, I can't wait!

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