One of my recent reads was a spooky Victorian gothic set in a crumbling English estate in the countryside. I enjoy horror and creepy stories and I have a tendency to gravitate toward ones with historical settings. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell did not disappoint. I give it 4 stars and if you are looking for a good creepy gothic, add this to your list right away. If you are like me and find stories about anything doll-like horrifying then don’t read this one right before bed.
So what’s it about? Elsie has recently married into the Bainbridge family. Her husband’s family is marked by tragedy, including the death of countless Bainbridge heirs, but Elsie has also suffered from the gruesome loss of her father in the family’s matchstick factory. Elsie’s happy marriage comes to a screeching halt when her husband suddenly dies, leaving her as the owner of the Bainbridge estate known as the Bridge. The estate is full of eerie lifelike wooden dolls. Elsie is unnerved when she discovers one that looks just like her as a child. Her fears intensify when the dolls begin to multiply, first taking on the visages of past inhabitants and then tragic figures from her own background. Then the grisly bodies of the Bridge’s inhabitants begin to stack up. What at first seems to be a dark power haunting the manor could just as easily be Elsie’s runaway imagination bringing her fears to life. Purcell masterfully toes the line between these possibilities as she tells the story behind the lurking evil through Elsie’s experiences at the Bridge, her time spent in a psychiatric hospital after her stay, and through the 17th-century diary revealing the origin of the dolls.
I’ve always found porcelain dolls and anything related super creepy, and this book gets lumped into that category. The setting and atmosphere felt like it’s own character in this book. I don’t want to give any spoilers away so I won’t touch on any specific plot points, but my biggest complaint is I found the ending a little predictable, but it still worked well with the book. This story had a bit of a psychological edge to it, which helped play up the horror and tension. This isn’t your usual haunting story either.
I devoured this book in a weekend and was excited to see the author has another story coming soon, called The Corset, in October 2018. It’s another Victorian chiller and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.