The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

I read this on my kindle, and after a false start, was gripped.  It ticks a lot of boxes for me, being historical, gothic,set in a dual time frame, and excitingly, by an author from my local town Colchester.  In fact, when I read the thank yous at the end of the book, Laura Purcell mentions her local coffee shop, Harris + Hoole.  Well, I thought, that’s strange, because I can picture Harris + Hoole, and although I’m sure the coffee’s great, it’s set in Tesco, which seems like rather a prosaic place to pen high gothic fiction.  Also, I’m thrilled to see it will be reviewed in Zoe Ball’s new book club, so I’ll be tuning to see what she and other readers think of it.

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Anyhow, back to the actual book.  In 1866 pregnant Elsie Bainbridge has travelled to her late husband’s family home, The Bridge with her husband’s cousin, Sarah and finds an inhospitable environment with surly, incompetent maids. The local village is awash with rumours of The Bridge being haunted, and sure enough, after Elsie and Sarah find some ‘Silent Companions’ – painted wooden figures – in the attic, things start to take a turn for the worse.

In 1635 , Anne Bainbridge is preparing for a visit from the King, and the only glitch to her ambitious happiness is her husband’s attitude to their mute daughter.  Why does the King’s visit turn sour and what is the link between Anne, her daughter and the events 200 years later?

This book is edge-of-your-seat horror.  What happened to Anne?  And where will the Silent Companions turn up next?  The gothic ending is truly disturbing, leaving the reader with questions to answer and the metallic taste of fear in the mouth.





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