Book Review: “The Silent Companions” by Laura Purcell

silent companionsGothic horror can be tricky to get right. You have to adhere to the slow-burning, moody atmosphere of the genre classics, while also updating it just enough to capture the attention of modern audiences. When it is done well it can be quite an eerie treat, and luckily for me, this one was done pretty well. We follow Elsie, who has known quite a bit of tragedy in her life, immediately after being subjected to it once more when her husband of mere weeks passes away at his family’s secluded estate. She leaves the city to attend to his burial and look into the home that now belongs to her, accompanied by her husband’s cousin Sarah. The house and nearby village are in a shocking state of disrepair, and the few servants she finds upon arrival are barely qualified at best. As she tries to settle in though, they discover a strange wooden figure in a locked room, that bears an odd similarity in appearance to Elsie herself. Sarah also discovers a diary written by one of her ancestors, and as she learns more about the history of the home, more and more of the figures begin appearing. As you can imagine, things only go downhill from there. Ms. Purcell proves excellent at establishing some truly creepy scenery. While I wouldn’t say it was the scariest book I’ve ever read, it have me suitably on-edge when it wanted to. She has a plain but descriptive writing style, that really makes you feel like you can see everything she has written, without resorting to unnecessary flourishes. The mystery of the house and its occupants is well thought out, and nicely rooted in folklore, making the required suspension-of-disbelief pretty easy to swallow. This book could keep you up all night, mostly because you want to see how it turns out, but at least a little bit because you’ll find yourself wondering just what that strange noise you heard might be. ★★★★ – Sean Farrell


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★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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