Available at the Library
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.
A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect–much like the silent companions themselves.
I needed to tick off my Gothic Fiction genre goal this month (as I had failed in previous months to find and read a Gothic Fiction book!) and this came up as an option on the Library App Libby.
Immediately I was sucked in. The writing was powerful and had me sleeping with the lights on the first night I started to read it! I didn’t expect the emotional journey that I was taken on, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! I went in to the book blind as I had never heard of a silent companion. I am glad that I didn’t know what one was as I may not have had the courage to read it!
The chapters were of mixed length, which meant that you got a good chunk of the story before being propelled back to the ‘present’ day (19th Century), whilst at the same time setting a reasonable pace for the story. The author certainly knew where to linger for the biggest emotional impact! I can guarantee that this story will stay with me for a long time.
The characters were excellent, from the ones in the past (17th Century) to the ‘present’ day ones in the 19th Century. There were so many twists and turns that even right at the end you were kept guessing as to the characters’ true intentions and what was real and what wasn’t. Now comes my one criticism of the book. The ending. It was not a satisfactory way to end the book in my opinion, however, it did keep up the suspense and left me wanting more!
Lastly the settings. What could be spookier than an old decaying mansion? And what could be sadder than when we go back in time to see said mansion in all its glory? Without that mansion the story wouldn’t have meshed together as well as it did. The story was one based on character’s thoughts and actions, but the extra layer was brought by the mansion.
Overall I loved this spooky book and when I asked other book groups they all had the same opinion as me – great but spooky! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to be taken in by the Gothic genre. It was an immersive read, but I appreciate that it isn’t for everyone. To be honest I didn’t think that I would be able to read this sort of book, but I am pleased that I have. Will I read it again? Probably not. Will I look out for other Laura Purcell books? Definitely!
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