“You could not explain fear; you could only feel it, roaring through the silence and striking your heart still.”
Author: Laura Purcell Published: 2017 Pages: 385 Rating: 4 stars
Typically drawn to fluffy YA stories or dark dystopians, I can’t remember the last time I picked up a horror story. However, after devouring this creepy tale, I’m definitely going to be scouring my library’s bookshelves for some more ghostly novels. The Silent Companions is enthralling, and just as if I was watching a horror film on the big screen, it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
This novel depicts the story of Elsie, a widow whose late husband died of unknown causes. She is sent out to Fayford, where she is to carry out her pregnancy in a crumbling country estate, The Bridge. With her only companion being Sarah, her husband’s awkward cousin – Elsie feels alone. However, she soon stumbles upon some unexpected companions.
Upon arriving at the desolate village, Elsie is greeted with inadequate servants. She goes from rags to riches as this vacant house couldn’t hold a candle to the luxury she was accustomed to in London. Moreover, while exploring her new residence, she makes a fearful discovery. Behind a locked door stands a peculiar wooden figure which uncannily resembles Elsie. A silent companion.
As the narrative progresses, the new companions appear out of thin air and strange events begin to occur. In the midst of these occurrences, Sarah becomes obsessed with discovering more of her heritage. She discovers the diary of Anne Brainbridge from the 1600s, an era in which there was immense fear surrounding Witchcraft and rebellion. Also the era where the roots of the gory events which take place at The Bridge lie.
This Victorian horror story is thoroughly creepy and extremely well written. I loved how the different timelines interweave to create one immersive narrative which kept me glued to the pages the entire time I was reading. Purcell keeps the reader guessing as we question what to believe. She is triumphant in Elsie’s development towards the fallen woman and we ask ourselves – has she truly lost her wits? Or is there a darker evil at play?
Furthermore, Elsie’s journey to the village is poignant in setting up the story’s atmosphere. It encapsulates the drama that is to come, concocting images of mystery and darkness. Upon her arrival at the house, ‘death’ is repeated numerous times which forebodes the haunting events that are to follow. The Bridge is an eerie estate where no reader would want to reside.
In addition, one particular scene I enjoyed was Elsie’s attempt to retrieve the 2nd volume of Anne’s diary. The creepy companions, now multiplied, stalk her every move as she makes her way through the depths of the darkness towards the garret. This is just one of the eerily atmospheric scenes in the novel in which my heart raced, echoing the incessant hiss of the companions.
Overall, The Silent Companions is an unsettling, haunting, yet darkly enchanting novel in which two genres combine to create one gripping story. This tale is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine making it the perfect Halloween read.
You can find more about the book here on Goodreads.
What was the last horror you read?
Thanks for reading,