I’m kicking off Spooky Season with this deliciously Gothic tale of creepy wooden ‘companions’ who cause mayhem across the centuries.
Trigger warnings: Infant mortality, Murder, Violence, Fire
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 mysterious wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears an unsettling resemblance to Elsie herself…
The novel begins in Victorian England, and we are introduced to Elsie, who is a resident of St. Joseph’s Hospital: a lunatic asylum. Dr Shepherd is delving into Elsie’s case history and encourages our now-mute central character to begin writing about the events that led to her admittance. What a tale she has to tell!
Incorporating a whole bundle of the usual tropes such as an aging house, a creepy nursery and things that go bump, scrape and hiss in the night, this is a fantastically Gothic novel of the highest calibre. Reminiscent of ‘Rebecca’ and ‘The Woman in Black’, this dark, twisty tale flits across the centuries from Elsie’s Victorian period of mourning to Anne’s hosting of the King and Queen.
Not for the faint-hearted, the supernatural elements of ‘The Silent Companions’ are terrifying in their originality. I know what to expect with vampires, ghosts and zombies, but these wooden things follow their own rules and know no boundaries.
I loved this novel and it’s probably my favourite book of the year so far. Thank you, Laura Purcell, you’ve got me back into horror!