Silent Companions was written by novelist Laura Purcell and published in 2017 by Raven Books; Bloomsbury Publishing. It follows the story of newly widowed Elsie Bainbridge who is sent to live at the Bridge in Fayford; the eerily dilapidated mansion of her late husband, Rupert. Together with Rupert’s cousin, Sarah, the two relatives take up residence at the Bridge when they stumble upon a dark mystery locked away behind a ghostly attic room.
This insidiously gothic horror story which I’ve been gushing over on various social media platforms, gripped me from the outset to the ingeniously sinister end. Purcell has an engaging, scenic style of prose that perfectly captured the tonally macabre quality of the narrative.
The story is told from the omnipotent perspective of the third person. It consists of mainly flashbacks and flash-forwards skilfully used to build suspense, whilst gradually unravelling a heart wrenching mystery that powerfully resonates beyond the pages of the book.
The language does well to epitomize the historical settings in the book, ranging from the early 17th century to the Victorian Era or late 19th century. This primarily comes from the dialogue, with characters articulating archaic terms both common and noble. The narration has a more contemporary feel indicative of the modern time frame it was written in.
The main character, Elsie seems to possess an air of indifference to me. As a standalone character without the strange goings-on at the Bridge and the distressing past concerning her parents, her character seems invariably uninteresting and ordinary. Her eventual mental decline in the face of the ghoulish figures that haunt her is what gives her character depth. From a feminist angle, Elsie challenges the norms of the archetypal woman in Victorian England. She has a hands-on approach to business, audaciously leading important business meetings.
I really enjoyed following the journey of Anne Bainbridge and her daughter Hetta. Their development takes a dark turn that was terrifying to read but also riveting as the pacing was executed flawlessly and their growth as characters was manifest.
Silent Companions ended far too soon for my liking. I was completely absorbed until the end not once wondering how much more I had to read. The story was delightfully creepy and sinister. It was written in a way that gripped me from the outset and held my attention throughout. I definitely recommend this book and shall be reading it again soon. I’m also looking out for what Purcell has in store for us next with great anticipation.
I rate Silent Companions…
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CAUTION!! May contract phobia of wood after reading this book. Fancy a ghostly gothic read? Click the image below to read Silent Companions.