Published by Penguin Books on March 6th 2018
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“You could not explain fear; you could only feel it, roaring through the silence and striking your heart still.”
Fans of Gothic, atmospheric Victorian books should look no further – The Silent Companions should be right up your alley! This is Gothic done right! Have you ever read a book where the Author is going for Gothic and just fails to hit the mark? The Author not only hits the mark -she nails it. The crumbling estate is creepy and dreary. The countryside is dripping with atmosphere and dread. The villagers are hostile and refuse to help anyone at the country estate known as the Bridge. This story creeps along as does the feelings of dread and apprehension in this book. This story does jump around a little bit from the present day, to the past, to the not so distant past but it is never confusing. During the book, the reader sees the main character of Elise in a psychiatric hospital being evaluated by a psychiatrist. There has been a fire and Elise is believed to have started it and she is considered to be responsible for deaths which occurred before and during the fire. The reader also gets a glimpse into the year 1635, when a family lives at the country estate. The reader learns what occurred during the time and finally we see Elise moving into the estate and her time spent living in the home.
When Elise marries Rupert Bainbridge, she knows her factory days are behind her. She is going to live a life of wealth and privilege. But he dies unexpectedly a few weeks into their marriage. She travels to the Bridge, her husband’s crumbling estate to carry out her pregnancy and is met with servants who are less than happy to work with/for her, her husband’s lonely cousin, Sarah, a cat, and strange hissing sounds coming from the Garrett.
Elise decides to explore in hopes of figuring out what is causing the sounds coming from the Garrett. She invites Sarah to come investigate with her. I found it odd that Sarah had never really explored the home before as she was living there before Elise arrived, Sarah was apprehensive but decided to join Elise in this adventure and soon the women were in the Garrett where they found two silent companions and a diary. One of the silent companions had a striking resemblance to Elise. *Silent companions, also known as dummy boards, are painted figures used to amuse and trick guests (I looked them up as I had never heard of them before).
“Did evil have wants and needs? Surely not, surely that would make it too human.”
Soon, these silent companions were brought downstairs where they frightened the staff and appear to move and show up in various rooms. To make matters worse, the silent companions seem to multiply and more appear each day. Plus, several members of the household began to see strange things. Each person sees something different from others living in the home and everyone is upset by this except for the head House keeper, Mrs. Holt who has lived at the home for several years. She claims nothing bad has ever happened while she has been at the house. Sarah finds the diary of Anne Bainbridge, the inhabitants of the country estate over 200 years ago. This once prosperous and noble family fell to ruin in 1635, when the queen’s horse was killed on their property and Anne herself was burned at the stake for being a witch.
“Did people know when they were going insane? she wondered. Did they feel the weave of their mind ripping apart?”
The house has some history and none of it has been good. Many have died at the estate and the locals believe the house is cursed and they are superstitious about the history surrounding a witch having lived at the home. The longer Elise stays at the home, the more she sees the silent companions and stranger things begin to happen at an alarming rate. Is she hallucinating? Is she insane as her brother believes? Are the ghosts of the past terrorizing the house? Is everything is as it seems?
This book was very good and quite enjoyable! I love books which are atmospheric and evoke feelings of dread and unease. This book, like the silent companions, will creep up on you and have you worrying about things that go bump in the night (or shall I say hiss?). Purcell builds the suspense as her story unfolds. I really enjoyed how all the story-lines/plot timelines came together and brought about the end of the book! Plus, the ending? Was anyone else scratching their head at the end, thinking “what just happened? “I have my theories and think I have it figured out but like that I was left with questions. I feel like I was in the same boat as Elise at the end. Wondering what the hell just happened!?!
Thank you to Penguin books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.