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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell - Review

Sunday, July 7, 2019

My partner read this on his tablet last year and really enjoyed it. I've been encouraging him to read more gothic horror books so he's got quite a collection. Then he saw that I had the book in paperback - it was a present I think - so he said I should read it. So I put it to the top of the pile. I'm so glad I did because I loved it, it really kept me engrossed.

It's set in the 1860s and to begin with we meet Elsie in an asylum. She is unable to speak due to trauma. Her new doctor wants her to write down what happened because he has to give a report to the police about whether she is fit to stand trial. So Elsie does.

So we discover that about a year before, she was newly widowed. Her husband Rupert had been an investor in the match factory Elsie owns with her brother Jolyon. Rupert has returned to his family country seat, The Bridge, in order to make it habitable for Elsie and their coming child. However, while he's there, he dies, so Elsie goes immediately to bury him, with Rupert's cousin Sarah alongside.

Elsie and Sarah stay at the Bridge after Rupert's funeral and strange things start happening. Firstly there are splinters on Rupert's neck before he is buried. Then at night Elsie hears a hissing kind of noise, a sound of wood on wood, and gets up to look for the source. She thinks there's something in the garret, but it's locked, so she and Sarah attempt to get in. While there, they find some wooden painted statue things called silent companions.

Sarah likes them so they bring a couple down, but then the statues start to move and appear at will. They also find a diary, kept by the mistress of the house from the 1660s, Anne Bainbridge. Anne is suspected to be a witch and through her diary we find out what happened in the house to make the local villagers distrustful of the Bainbridges and the house.

I could barely put this book down - I thought it was really creepy and unnerving and really wanted to know what was going to happen next to the women. I loved that there were no men in the house full time; it was so easy for the men to dismiss what was happening as just hysteria. I'm giving this five out of five - if you like horror, do read it!

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