I have fallen back in love with Horror after some time away. I seem to go through cycles of reading different genres and I always come back to Horror. When I saw this book in my local Waterstones, I knew it would be a great read so I picked it up without hesitation (much to my bank account’s dismay).
Anyways before I get into this review, I will as always give you the blurb to get a feel for the plot. This is the Silent Companions by Laura Purcell.
Winner of the W H Smith Thumping Good Read Award
As featured on the Radio 2 Book Club and the Zoe Ball ITV Book Club
‘[An] extraordinary, memorable and truly haunting book’ Jojo Moyes
‘[It] shone, for originality for the sheer quality of the writing, the characters and some masterly chills’ Peter James
Some doors are locked for a reason…
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 only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…
This book was exactly what a horror read, at least to me, should be. It had suspense, a deep sense of dread and some interesting characters. The main character Elsie comes from a less than affluent background and married a man who is substantially older than her. He unfortunately passes away mysteriously without cause in his old estate that has not been used by his family for many years. When Elsie finally reaches the estate, it is not for a visit but for the funeral and for her to remain there until her pregnancy is over.
The best part of this novel is the suspense.
It does this extremely well by jumping from present to past. Elsie is both in an asylum and in the past, experiencing the events firsthand. Purcell skilfully weaves the current narrative with the past as Elsie, herself, rediscovers the events which she has repressed. It’s an interesting way to tell a story and it’s something I think really helps with the suspense. I’m also very impressed with the gradual increase in tension which is dealt with at the same time in both threads.
The nature of this horror is a bit more psychological than gore which is what I prefer. I am personally a lover of horror which is bit more about fear than disgust.
The best horror is that which creeps into your mind rather than upsetting your stomach.
The antagonist of this story is unique and the first time I have read such a horror villain. The story of the villain and the context of the horrific events that take place add to the overall sense of dread. I loved it!
Elsie, and the servants are funny, relatable and loveable. Anything that happened had real stakes because of these characters which is something that can be overlooked in other horror stories. I wanted these characters to survive and be happy which is crucial when you have characters experience traumatic events.
I need to care what happens to these people for the events to have any weight.
If you’re a fan of the Woman in Black then this is probably a great book for you. It is set in Victorian England which is a fantastic time to set a horror in because it remains relevant despite changing trends. Victorian horror and ghost stories still remain popular today because it’s a period of time most people are familiar with and it’s easy to visualise these types of spooky events taking place in a setting devoid of technology like video cameras.
Anyways to summarise, this book is a great read for spooks and scares but also has fantastic characters. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a classic haunted horror book.
5 out of 5 stars.
Thanks for reading x