The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

The Silent Companions

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, he...

Title:The Silent Companions
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Edition Language:English

The Silent Companions Reviews

  • Emma

    A genuinely unsettling gothic story set in a ramshackle country house, this book kept me up late reading, then the rest of the night listening for strange noises. I knew it had its claws into me when I returned to my room and freaked out about an inexplicably open cupboard door: who did it? I was the only one in the house... Spoiler: I got a towel out, had forgotten, and accidentally left it like that. Phew. But that's precisely the kind of split second reaction you get after reading this book.

    A genuinely unsettling gothic story set in a ramshackle country house, this book kept me up late reading, then the rest of the night listening for strange noises. I knew it had its claws into me when I returned to my room and freaked out about an inexplicably open cupboard door: who did it? I was the only one in the house... Spoiler: I got a towel out, had forgotten, and accidentally left it like that. Phew. But that's precisely the kind of split second reaction you get after reading this book. It's beyond atmospheric, so well written it seeps deep into you, affecting the way you think and feel. It's compelling and unnerving in equal measure, with an ending that could go either way: is there a mundane, human answer to this mystery? Or are the Silent Companions as supernatural as they appear? I won't ruin anything for you, but I thought it ended exactly the way it should, clever and scary.

    Serious love for this spooky read. This author goes straight into my 'must read' list.

    ARC via Netgalley

  • Diane S ☔

    An asylum, a menacing house, journals found from the past, throw in Gothic and Victorian and I am all over it. Elsie, pregnant with her first child, travels to her husband's estate, called the Bridge. It is the middle of the 1800s and her husband has just died from unknown causes. Her story is a rags to riches one, daughter of a man who owned a match factory, she met and married her wealthy husband when he came to invest in the factory. Elsie herself has secrets held from her past, and the house

    An asylum, a menacing house, journals found from the past, throw in Gothic and Victorian and I am all over it. Elsie, pregnant with her first child, travels to her husband's estate, called the Bridge. It is the middle of the 1800s and her husband has just died from unknown causes. Her story is a rags to riches one, daughter of a man who owned a match factory, she met and married her wealthy husband when he came to invest in the factory. Elsie herself has secrets held from her past, and the house she finds is not what she expected.

    Was reading this on Halloween, and it was just creepy enough without being absolutely terrifying. The silent companions, things I had never heard of, make an appearance and keep making appearances despite the fact that they are gotten rid of time and time again. The journals from the past reveal the dabbling in of witchcraft and of terrible wrongs committed. As a reader I was never quite sure what was real and what was imagined. If what Elsie was seeing and experiencing was in her mind or an actual happening. Loved the Gothic, forboding style of this, the constant tension, and the mix between past and present. Other interesting characters are presented and one will have an important part in the twist at the end.

    This was a sisters read and many of us had questions at the end. Trying to figure out exactly what happened, but I often think a book that causes one to question what they just read, is the mark of an interesting and worthy read.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Paromjit

    This is a tantalisingly creepy and menacing gothic horror novel, populated by ghosts, and set in 1866. It begins with a patient, Mrs Elsie Bainbridge, a woman badly burnt in a fire, being questioned by Dr Shepherd, a progressive psychologist at St Joseph's, after a year in which she has been recovering from her injuries. She is mute and cannot remember what happened. It becomes apparent there have been several deaths and she is suspected of murder. With a hangman's noose hovering over her, Dr Sh

    This is a tantalisingly creepy and menacing gothic horror novel, populated by ghosts, and set in 1866. It begins with a patient, Mrs Elsie Bainbridge, a woman badly burnt in a fire, being questioned by Dr Shepherd, a progressive psychologist at St Joseph's, after a year in which she has been recovering from her injuries. She is mute and cannot remember what happened. It becomes apparent there have been several deaths and she is suspected of murder. With a hangman's noose hovering over her, Dr Shepherd slowly gets her to remember what happened which she writes on a slate. It begins with a pregnant Elsie travelling to a dilapidated country house, The Bridge, where her husband, Rupert, recently died. She has never been there before, and is accompanied by a spinster companion, Sarah, a poverty stricken relative of her husband. The house leaves a lot to be desired, with two inexperienced maids and Mrs Holt, the housekeeper. Locals believe the house is cursed, once inhabited by a witch, with a history numerous strange deaths and accidents.

    Elsie hears strange sounds and hissing which unnerves her. The house is littered with 'companions' constructed of wood and painting intended to startle, Dutch in origin. One looks uncannily like Elsie, they appear to move, with new ones appearing out of thin air, sinister and exuding menace. Sarah is obsessed by finding out about her family history. With strange events revolving round the old nursery and the garret, and apparently hallucinatory experiences, Elsie hears about writings that come and go. The diary of Anne Bainbridge from over 200 years ago is discovered. This gives us a historical storyline about the marriage of Anne and Josiah Bainbridge, and their preparation for a visit by the King. Anne lost her beloved sister and conjures a pregnancy from potions and ancient words for a girl. This results in Hetta, their mute daughter, a young girl destined to haunt The Bridge. A litany of horrors and tragedies unfold, destined to echo and replicate down the centuries. The reader is left wondering whether Elsie is treading the territory of madness or whether there is a deeper malevolent evil at play.

    Laura Purcell has written a deeply unsettling story inhabiting by ghosts, and the fearsome, scary, silent companions which are unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon by me. It is the ideal book to read around Halloween, or whenever you feel like a need to be frightened out of your wits. It is a story of family secrets and the traumatic history of a house that is no stranger to death and tragedy. Purcell's writing is atmospheric, with a subtle and complex narrative that leaves the reader wondering what to believe. The character of Elsie, a woman hampered by the rigidity of Victorian expectations of women, is a brilliant creation. Her development charting her path to a broken woman is mesmerising. A brilliantly spooky and creepy read. Thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.

  • Susan

    This is a deeply unsettling, wonderfully atmospheric and truly creepy novel. We first meet Elsie Bainbridge as a patient in an asylum, where she is suspected of murder. The progressive Dr Shepherd encourages her to write down her story, as she is refusing, or unable, to speak. What emerges is her recounting how she married Rupert Bainbridge, largely to help save her brother’s match factory. However, although the marriage was one of convenience, Elsie found herself surprisingly happy to be the wi

    This is a deeply unsettling, wonderfully atmospheric and truly creepy novel. We first meet Elsie Bainbridge as a patient in an asylum, where she is suspected of murder. The progressive Dr Shepherd encourages her to write down her story, as she is refusing, or unable, to speak. What emerges is her recounting how she married Rupert Bainbridge, largely to help save her brother’s match factory. However, although the marriage was one of convenience, Elsie found herself surprisingly happy to be the wife of her new husband. Sadly, though, she shortly finds herself both pregnant and widowed; sent by her brother to stay at her husband’s country house, The Bridge.

    Forget any ideas of a country idyll though. The Bridge huddles miserably in the muddy countryside, neglected and forlorn; surrounded by a straggle of cottages, whose inhabitants seem to view the big house with suspicion. As locals refuse to work there, Elsie finds housekeeper Edna Holt and two maids, plus she is accompanied by Sarah, a poor relation of her husband, who is acting as her companion.

    Unsettled and lonely, Elsie begins to hear noises at night. Exploring with Sarah, the pair uncover some strange wooden Dutch ‘companions,’ which are lifelike, cut out paintings. Initially Elsie thinks they are interesting and unusual, but soon the companions seem to have a life of their own… Along with the companions, Sarah uncovers a diary from Anne Bainbridge, her ancestor, written two hundred years before. Anne, and her husband, Josiah, are thrilled that Charles I and his wife, Henrietta Maria, are to visit their house. However, Josiah is keen that their mute daughter, Hetta, is kept away from the royal visitors. Tragedies also seem to follow the house throughout the years, leaving a sense of deep disquiet and unease among the locals.

    This is a clever, intelligent novel, with a good storyline and characters. It is eerie, wonderfully well written and you are unsure whether events are down to the supernatural or whether something else is behind the strange events in the house. An excellent novel and a wonderfully creepy read. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  • Lindsay

    3.5 stars! This was a gripping, atmospheric and creepy tale!

    This story involves an old haunted mansion, a woman living in an insane asylum, ghosts, an old hidden diary and three intertwining timelines. Add all of these up and you get one spooky, edge-of-your-seat horror story. The author, Laura Purcell, did a fantastic job creating a vivid and creepy atmosphere pulling the reader right into the frightening setting. I felt shivers creeping up my back a few times while reading this eerie and distu

    3.5 stars! This was a gripping, atmospheric and creepy tale!

    This story involves an old haunted mansion, a woman living in an insane asylum, ghosts, an old hidden diary and three intertwining timelines. Add all of these up and you get one spooky, edge-of-your-seat horror story. The author, Laura Purcell, did a fantastic job creating a vivid and creepy atmosphere pulling the reader right into the frightening setting. I felt shivers creeping up my back a few times while reading this eerie and disturbing story.

    The characters were well-developed – I appreciated every one of them and how they fit into this sinister tale. I enjoyed each timeline – every story carried an important piece of this mysterious puzzle. While I enjoyed the atmosphere and uniqueness of this story, I had a hard time suspending my belief a few times. I still have some lingering questions relating to how a couple events transpired.

    I liked the sense of vagueness left at the end of the novel. The story was left open to the readers interpretation which suited the novel completely.

    This was an excellent choice for a Traveling Sister Read! I enjoyed reading this along with my “sisters” Brenda, Norma, Diane S, Dana and Holly B. They helped me get through the frighteningly creepy parts, although I still may have to sleep with the lights on for a while.

    A big thank you to Edelweiss, Frontlist and Laura Purcell for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!

    To find this review, along with the other Traveling Sister Read reviews, please visit Norma and Brenda’s fabulous blog at:

  • Carolyn

    This is a very creepy, gothic tale. Set in Victorian England, the book opens with Elsie Bainbridge, mute and medicated in a hospital recovering from some unspeakable murders of which she is accused. Unable to speak after all that has happened to her she is encouraged by one of the doctors to write down her story.

    The scene is set when Elsie, recently married and soon after widowed, is sent to her husband's crumbling estate to bury him and then wait out the birth of her baby. Apart from Sarah, a

    This is a very creepy, gothic tale. Set in Victorian England, the book opens with Elsie Bainbridge, mute and medicated in a hospital recovering from some unspeakable murders of which she is accused. Unable to speak after all that has happened to her she is encouraged by one of the doctors to write down her story.

    The scene is set when Elsie, recently married and soon after widowed, is sent to her husband's crumbling estate to bury him and then wait out the birth of her baby. Apart from Sarah, a cousin of her husband, sent to keep her company, only a housekeeper and two maids live in the house. It is cold and decrepit and Elsie hears strange noises at night (getting creepy yet?). The local village and church are also very poor and run down with the villagers too fearful to work on the estate . Added to this setting are some strange full sized 'silent companions', trompe l'oeil figures painted on free standing wooden boards to resemble children and maids. Discovered in a locked attic and brought into the main house by Sarah and Elsie these have an uncanny way of watching people and don't seem to stay where they're put and aren't easily destroyed (definitely getting creepy?). Now add some old diaries written some 200 years before describing the horrific events that lead to the start of the Bainbridge family's downfall and link to the nightmares that cause Elsie changing from a confident young woman to the sad, broken shell we see at the start of the book, and the result is a very atmospheric, scary tale.

    Note: Examples of 'Silent companions' or 'dummy boards' can be found on the web if anyone is interested. They were popular in the 17th & 18th century and used as house decoration.

  • Holly  B

    The Silent Companions is a gothic, foreboding, spooky ghost story. It is very well written and I especially enjoyed the setting of the crumbling mansion (named The Bridge) in England. The story alternates between events of 1635 to the present day of 1865.

    It begins with Elsie in an asylum, with a creepy attendant and a young doctor who exclaims, “I am here to decide your fate.” He wasn’t joking.

    The history of the house is told and it is a strange one. It was left empty during and after the Civil

    The Silent Companions is a gothic, foreboding, spooky ghost story. It is very well written and I especially enjoyed the setting of the crumbling mansion (named The Bridge) in England. The story alternates between events of 1635 to the present day of 1865.

    It begins with Elsie in an asylum, with a creepy attendant and a young doctor who exclaims, “I am here to decide your fate.” He wasn’t joking.

    The history of the house is told and it is a strange one. It was left empty during and after the Civil War, until family started to return, but no one stayed for very long. Were skeletons buried under the house?

    When Elsie moves back into the house, she begins to “experience” it. She describes her bed as “cold and sinister”, she finds mysterious items, hears hissing in the night, walks on a wobbling staircase and the house seems to be “watching her” along with the lurking servants.

    Just who is going mad here?

    A spookalicious read with a ending that made me gasp!

    For fans of gothic, spooky/creepy historical fiction, haunted houses and the paranormal!

    Thanks to Edelweiss for my ARC. Rating 4/5 stars. A Traveling sister read...

    Really enjoyed reading with Norma, Dana, Brenda, Diane and PorshaJo! I read it on Halloween night and it made it even more spooky!

  • Norma

    5 Spooky Spectacular Stars!  This was my kind of book and the perfect Halloween read that I read along with six of my Traveling Sisters!  

    Traveling Sisters Read with Brenda, Lindsay, Holly, Diane, Dana and PorshaJo

    THE SILENT COMPANIONS by LAURA PURCELL is a spooky, eerie, haunting, creepy, and absolutely fantastic gothic ghost story.  I absolutely loved the creepy feel to it and I was immediately drawn into this story right from the very start. There is an underlying sense of foreboding througho

    5 Spooky Spectacular Stars!  This was my kind of book and the perfect Halloween read that I read along with six of my Traveling Sisters!  

    Traveling Sisters Read with Brenda, Lindsay, Holly, Diane, Dana and PorshaJo

    THE SILENT COMPANIONS by LAURA PURCELL is a spooky, eerie, haunting, creepy, and absolutely fantastic gothic ghost story.  I absolutely loved the creepy feel to it and I was immediately drawn into this story right from the very start. There is an underlying sense of foreboding throughout this whole story that had me questioning whether the events that were happening were supernatural, menacing or manipulation.  

      

    LAURA PURCELL delivers a clever, atmospheric, and well-written read here with an intense storyline, the perfect Victorian setting, and great characters.  The tension slowing builds from chapter to chapter with an ending that definitely took me by surprise. I was reading this late into the night with all the lights out except for the backlight on my iPad and I was spooked!  It will be a long time before I forget about those creepy and scary Silent Companions.  I don't think this one was predictable at all but I do think that LAURA PURCELL left it up to us questioning whether the events within the story were in the supernatural nature or not.

    To sum it all up it was an engrossing, unsettling, suspenseful, and unforgettable read that had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation and had me on hyper alert watching out for creepy wooden figures. Highly recommend to readers who love a really good ghost story!

    Thank you so much to Edelweiss, Penguin Books and Laura Purcell for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review!!

    All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog:

  • Dana

    4.5 stars

    The Silent Companions is a disturbing, atmospheric gothic story.

    *I kept picturing this image I had seen in Vogue a while back*

    The story alternates between 1635 and 1865, with an underlying sense of portentous, evil foreboding throughout as each narrative unfolds. Toss together plants and herbs, witchcraft, moving wooden figures (Silent Companions), disappearing structures, and an insane asylum, and you have the perfect mix for a bewitching, mesmerizing tale - leaving the reader questio

    4.5 stars

    The Silent Companions is a disturbing, atmospheric gothic story.

    *I kept picturing this image I had seen in Vogue a while back*

    The story alternates between 1635 and 1865, with an underlying sense of portentous, evil foreboding throughout as each narrative unfolds. Toss together plants and herbs, witchcraft, moving wooden figures (Silent Companions), disappearing structures, and an insane asylum, and you have the perfect mix for a bewitching, mesmerizing tale - leaving the reader questioning if the events where real or supernatural.

    This was a spellbinding Halloween read with Traveling Sisters Norma, Brenda, Diane, Holly, Lindsay and PorshaJo. The dangling questions made for a great discussion and read.

  • Brenda

    Traveling Sisters Review with Norma, Lindsay, Holly, Diane, Dana and PorshaJo

    I read The Silent Companions as a spooky Halloween read with six of my Traveling Sisters and this was the perfect read that brought out an extra creepiness to our Halloween.

    The Silent Companion is creepy good, deliciously creepy and intriguingly creepy that grabbed our attention right from the very beginning and held it right to the end.

    Laura Purcell does a good job setting up all the spooky elements for this story. We

    Traveling Sisters Review with Norma, Lindsay, Holly, Diane, Dana and PorshaJo

    I read The Silent Companions as a spooky Halloween read with six of my Traveling Sisters and this was the perfect read that brought out an extra creepiness to our Halloween.

    The Silent Companion is creepy good, deliciously creepy and intriguingly creepy that grabbed our attention right from the very beginning and held it right to the end.

    Laura Purcell does a good job setting up all the spooky elements for this story. We loved the spooky house, intriguing journals from the past, the hidden secrets and the creepy Silent Companions that had us shuttering with their creepiness.

    The story left us wanting to sleep with the lights on and checking over our shoulders as we left a room for those silent figures to pop up. They creeped into our thoughts leaving us with a feeling of fear that really sparked this to the perfect spooky read. I highly recommend finding a comfy chair with just the right amount of light to read and let yourself be immersed into this haunting and unsettling world of delish creepiness.

    Thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Books and Laura Purcell for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy.

    Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog:

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