THE SILENT COMPANIONS
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Historical Mystery
When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.
If I had to pick one word to describe The Silent Companions, it would be atmospheric.
The story centres around a young widow, who goes off to live in husbands old, remote family home. While she’s there, she finds something called silent companions — essentially an old-fashioned version of a standee made of wood — and these seem to have a malevolent presence. Deaths and tragedies occur throughout the novel, and Elsie begins to think that maybe the companions have something to do with it.
The companions are such a clever device for a horror story. I mean, who hasn’t wandered about their own house in the dark and been surprised by the shape of something looking vaguely human when they really didn’t expect it? I’m actually so surprised that they haven’t been used anywhere before. I looked up silent companions on Google after I finish the book because I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not Purcell has created them herself. But they are real, and really creepy.
And like I said, they work perfectly in this novel.
The whole book has a really unsettling feel to it. That really creepy, alone in the house at night, winds rattling at the windows type of feeling. There are secrets upon secrets, and an encroaching sense of dread.
It really made me think of The Turn Of The Screw, or The Haunting of Hill House. I liked that, like those novels, there’s a strong sense of mystery and suspense: is it all in the Elsie’s head? Is there a supernatural force going on? Is someone manipulating her? Is it all three?
I kind of wish Purcell had held out just a little longer. I really think it could have been left open-ended and been even creepier.
The Silent Companions is a fantastic read. and one that you definitely don’t want to read at night if you’re home alone.