by Paura Purcell
Fear is a strong emotion. The adrenaline rush we get can be intoxicating. That is why horror and thrillers are so popular. But we each have our own tolerances and, so I believe, there are some people who don’t enjoy the occasional shudder up the spine or hair standing up on the back of the neck.
Each to their own I suppose.
But for the rest of us, there are writers like Laura Purcell who is able to deliver the correct dose in the perfect format.
The Silent Companions is my first Purcell novel but definitely not my last. Before I had finished the book I had already purchased a second which is currently eyeing me up from the bookshelf. This particular book was loaned to me by a friend who assured me it was a great example of gothic horror. And so it is.
Before I turned the first page I was already a little spooked as I had taken the trouble to look up silent companions, just see if it was a reference to something I should know. What I found both intrigued and unnerved me as I could see straight away the horror potential of these strange ornamental pieces. If you don’t believe me, check them out at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/feat…
There are three narratives running through Silent Companions, 1865, 1635 and one undated. They each give us a glimpse of the lives of two different women sharing a common experience, Anna and Elsie. Elsie is a young widow, pregnant with her late husband’s child and about to take up residence in his old family home. Anna, on the other hand, is a Happily married young mother whose husband is on the verge of gaining recognition in the royal court.
It is Anna who introduces the silent companions to the home. What appears at first to be a whimsical idea designed to impress their impending royal visitors, soon turns dark and threatening. But can the things she sees and hears be real? Is she going mad as her husband thinks? And what really happened to the Queen’s horse?
Two centuries later, Elsie’s arrival reawakens the same malevolent force. Once again, the line between sanity and madness blurs as Elsie begins to question her own state of mind.
From the very first page, Laura Purcell guides the reader on a well-plotted and divinely spooky path. Like all the best of the genre, the fear comes from anticipation, and you can expect that on almost every page.
It is a brooding tale, dark and sinister in the best possible way.
The Silent Companions themselves are a mystery. I was as intrigued by them at the end as I was when I first discovered what they were. I think I will have to avoid any stately homes that claim to have them on display.