“[An] extraordinary, memorable and truly haunting book.” —Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Laura Purcell's THE SHAPE OF DARKNESS is now out from Penguin!
Some doors are locked for a reason.
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late 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 estate 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, The Silent Companions is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect—much like the companions themselves.
Purcell's debut is an atmospheric, eerie Victorian gothic novel centered around a decaying English country estate. Elsie has married into the Bainbridge family, which "had a nasty habit of losing their heirs." Her own family history is similarly grim, her father having died gruesomely in an accident at the family's matchstick factory. The two households, both alike in tragedy, unite, and the result is predictably disastrous. Elsie's new husband dies suddenly, leaving her the sole mistress of his ancestral estate, the Bridge, with its distrustful servants and collection of lifelike wooden props, "not a statue or a painting but somewhere in between." These figures multiply, assuming the likenesses of people from the house's and Elsie's history alike. Are they manifestations of Elsie's subconscious fears, or malevolent forces of evil? Purcell skillfully maintains the ambiguity as she splinters the story into three timelines: Elsie's stay at the estate over the winter of 1865; Elsie in a psychiatric hospital shortly thereafter, rendered mute and amnesiac after being accused of murder and arson; and a 17th-century account (found in an old diary) that sheds light on the origin of the evil lurking within the estate. Purcell's novel is more formulaic than, say, Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger, but its combustible tale of a 19th-century woman tormented by an English country house's creepy curios does produce sparks.
Slower start, but amazing!
At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish this book because of the slower start, but once it picked up, I couldn’t put it down! Never knew what to expect next and totally shocking ending
The silent companions
I kept reading because I wanted to find out what happened. It kept me interested, but I still cannot recommend it. Hetta takes possession of Sarah, everyone else dies and Elsie hangs. Jasper the cat, taken in by a kind soul, ends up happy and safe. At least Elsie was able to save him.
Be aware - lots of animal butchery - rediculous and poorly written. She apparently just wants to be shocking, not entertaining.