First of all, as always, I would like to thank netgalley and Penguin Books for the early copy (although I am only reviewing it nearly three months after its release) of this book in exchange for an honest review. It is always appreciated.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are all well and that you enjoyed the festivities. If you didn’t know, I’ve been away for a while, yes…sad, I know. As you will all know by now (from my constant excuses), I moved to Sweden in August and it took me a while to settle in. Whilst I was settling, I decided to re-read the Harry Potter books as there is no better thing to do than read J.K. Rowling’s works of art and magic when you are not feeling yourself. I’ve now leaped into 2018 with a positive attitude and a readiness for some good books! May 2018 treat us all extremely well!
Okay, you guys, normally I tell you there will be spoilers but seriously, SPOILER ALERT, I will be spoiling quite a few things here!! You’ve been warned.
Only a few weeks after they are wed, Elsie Bainbridge’s husband dies unexpectedly. Pregnant and in mourning, Elsie is sent away from London to her late husband’s country estate, The Bridge; a life far away from the luxury she had been expecting. The estate has a weird feeling about it. The servants barely speak and seem to resent her presence, whilst the villagers are seemingly hostile after hearing mysterious rumours about the place. Elsie only has Sarah, her husband’s cousin, for company. Soon things start to go bump in the night and Elsie is confused by the presence of sawdust and the sound of a saw through the night. Intrigued, Sarah and Elsie venture through a locked door only to find some mysterious diaries by a woman named Anne Bainbridge, and a striking wooden figure named – yep, you guessed it – silent companions. Elsie brings the silent companion down but soon finds that they are starting to appear everywhere. More and more appear and some bear striking resemblance to people of the past. The companions seem to move and something isn’t quite right about them.
Chapters alternate between the 1800’s, when Elsie and co, live in the house, an insane asylum, and the 1600’s, the date from the diaries. These chapters slowly but surely reveal all.
This was a great book to start 2018 with. What is better than a good, old, Gothic ghost story when it is dreary and cold, and the January blues are upon you? It is the classic tale of a woman, shipped off to the countryside only to find that her servants are not who they say they are and her house is not what she expected it to be. I could not put it down. It was dark and twisted at times, making you want to read more. You get to the end of one chapter and you just cannot stop, you need to know what happens in the corresponding chapter. It is a very quick read so if you are looking for one of those, this book is a good choice. I would not say this is a holiday read as it is quite eerie and gloomy!
Firstly, the idea of this book is superb – wooden figures that seem to move and watch you, hunting you down as you walk through your own house. Splinters and sawdust appear everywhere, including under the skin, and in the dead bodies. *Shivers* It gives me the creeps and so it should, that’s the whole idea. The story isn’t your typical ghost story, witchcraft is involved and you are constantly guessing what is possessing the silent companions. It’s creepy and I love it!
A few irks that got me; The dead bodies. There are A LOT of those. I just finished IT by Stephen King after Christmas and this book has just as many dead bodies as IT does (okay, exaggeration but shh.. it has a lot of dead people, okay?!). I was actually a little annoyed that so many people died, especially any that just happened ‘off-page’ where we hear about it from another character. That was disappointing, I didn’t think it was that type of book really. Some of the deaths seemed quite rushed and they felt as if they were just thrown in for a quick shock – the death of the baby and Mabel, for example. Others were spectacular – Helen. A antler pierced her eye! I was so not expecting that!
I was deeply disturbed by the animal deaths in this book. I don’t know if any of you know this about me (maybe I have mentioned this) but I am an animal fanatic and I really need a trigger warning for animal death or animal cruelty. It affects me more than most other things in novels. I know that is bad to say because of human suffering and stuff but I feel like television has desensitized me to that stuff – it does not mean that I do not care or wish to prevent social injustice and other issues – it just means that I can read it without flying into a frenzy of panic and upset. It’s weird – please don’t hate me. But yeah, cow head was unnecessary. The dead horse I get was a catalyst for events from the diaries but the cow head… really?! I was so worried the cat was going to die too!
Now the witchcraft storyline was interesting and definitely explained a bit about what was happening in the 1600’s storyline but it just was not utilised enough for me. It did not explain why the shop that sold the companions disappeared or why the companions were so weird even before the witch/spirit possessed them. There were a few plot holes appearing from this addition. I do not know how this could have been fixed but it was a thought throughout the book and I said I should be honest about it!
On a positive and final note; This book was beautifully written. Laura Purcell has a way with words; she really does. Some parts felt a little rushed – as if she needed to pack too much in – but some of the descriptions and the atmosphere she creates is great. She can be a little confusing sometimes as you do not realise what is going on. Purcell is one of these authors that has you work out that someone has died before telling you and having you witness the scene. Personally, I love that. I think she is a very good Gothic writer and she stick to that genre. I know she is working on another called The Corset so hopefully we will see that in 2018!
I have given this book 4 stars. It wasn’t entirely perfect and that is why it didn’t get a 5th star, and I can say I wouldn’t read it again but it is definitely going on a highly recommended shelf.