The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Publisher: Raven Books
Publication date: 05 October 2017
Pages: 384 pages
Format: Hardback/digital ARC
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I read a physical copy of this book that was purchased, however I had previously been provided a digital ARC in exchange for a review. This review is spoiler-free.
The Silent Companions had been sitting quietly on my Kindle for months when Author Sister recommended it. She had purchased the hardcover and absolutely devoured it — it ticks a lot of boxes for both of us. I decided to pick up her copy to beat back some of the post-holiday fatigue and was floored by this modern Gothic novel.
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…*
First of all, let’s take a moment to admire how absolutely stunning this book is. The flat image above doesn’t do it justice.
I absolutely love hardback books without dust jackets. There’s something about the design being printed on the physical book that absolutely delights me. Plus — a cut out! I love cut outs. There was obviously a great deal of care put into the production of this book. I highly recommend getting the UK hardback if you’re a book magpie like myself.
Now, onto the actual book. The copy above doesn’t quite encompass the scope of the novel. It sprawls across three points of view over three periods in time — the 1600’s, the 1800’s, and the period after the climax of the book. We primarily get the point of view of Elsie Bainbridge, the newly married, and newly widowed, mistress of The Bridge, her late husband’s sprawling and crumbling country estate. The book is creepy, compelling, and completely addictive. I frightened myself several times while reading late into the night.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot, as you should always go into Gothic and horror novels without knowing much at all, but it is a fantastic modernization of the classic Gothic novel. What made this book work so well for me is the character of Elsie — she is a difficult and complex character who manages to be simultaneously sympathetic and unsympathetic. She’s an unreliable narrator and I just always had the sense that she’s not being entirely honest with us. I love a grey-area protagonist, particularly one that is female, and Elsie fit the bill perfectly. I do think that the novel may have suffered if it was told in the third person instead.
Again, I don’t want to say too much, but The Silent Companions is well worth your time. If you love historical fiction, horror, the Gothic, or are still frightened by the Weeping Angels (me), you should absolutely pick up this incredible standalone. It is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. And if you enjoy it, Purcell’s next novel, Corset, is due out in 2018!
You can find The Silent Companions at the following sites (affiliate links):