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. Continue reading “Book Review: The Silent Companions”