Thursday, May 3, 2018

Book Review: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

First line: The new doctor took her by surprise.

This book is my catnip: Victorian, gothic, haunted house slash ghost story maybe slash unreliable narrator, plus mysterious deaths and creepy countrysides and, well, this read did not disappoint.

I loved it.

Elsie is a young widow, mere months into her marriage. Her husband died under mysterious circumstances at his family's decrepit country estate and Elsie must go there for his burial, accompanied by a mousy cousin-in-law, Sarah. She finds The Bridge, as the house is called, in shambles, with an clumsy, unprofessional staff surrounded by hostile villagers. She also finds a home, and family, steeped in tragedy.

I don't want to say too much more lest I giveaway a small but meaningful detail, but needless to say, Purcell creates a story with all the shiver-inducing details one wants in a creepy gothic-y horror. Nothing can be trusted: not people, not one's senses, not history, not place.

The title's silent companions are detailed wooden figures also known as dummy boards; Elsie and Sarah discover one in the garret. Purchased by the family in the 17th century, the figure is realistic, disconcerting, and, well, possibly evil. So add that to the creepy story goodness checklist.

This is a fast read but I lingered over it -- I didn't read it at night because I'm a wuss -- and I just adored it. I spent a little time trying to imagine how Purcell would resolve the various threads, and she still surprised me at the end. Delightfully.

Title: The Silent Companions
Author: Laura Purcell
Genre: Fiction (Victorian / Gothic / Haunted House / Marriage / Siblings / Motherhood / Multi-narrative / Murder Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin Books (3/6/2018)
Source: The publisher


  1. This might be too creepy for me.

  2. I like the different strands coming together.

  3. I'm a wuss too, so although it does sound super interesting, I'm too scared to read it!
    I like the way you add the first line in your review.