Pam Baddeley's Reviews > The Silent Companions: A ghost story

The Silent Companions by Laura  Purcell
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it was ok
bookshelves: historical-fiction, supernatural

This is a gothic supernatural tale set in two time periods - the Victorian 1860s and the reign of Charles I, pre Civil War - that revolves around a house haunted by painted figures, the Silent Companions of the title, which possess the power to move around and also to generate spontaneously. The protagonist - hideously burned and incarcerated in a mental asylum under threat of hanging for unspecified crimes - has her tale teased out by a progressive doctor who encourages her to write it on a slate for him to copy, as she has been left mute, so the Victorian part of the story consists of her experiences in the asylum interspersed with what led up to it. We are told at one point that she is a business woman, valued by her brother, and the sort of person to stand up for herself and him (and we gradually find out to just what extent she was willing to go), but she actually comes across as a typical passive gothic heroine who blunders from one disaster to another, and her brother treats her as such.

Meanwhile, the story of the house's earlier history and the origin of the companions, is narrated via the diary of the then-mistress who had a touch of psychic ability and trafficked in spells to secure the birth of a longed-for daughter. But I didn't find it particularly believable as a narrative set in that time, and the huge anachronism - witches were HANGED in England and Wales, not burned - derailed any credibility it might have had otherwise. The ending is cliched and there is no real motivation for the evil character other than "well, she's evil isn't she?" So, sadly, the book did not deliver on the expectations it raised.
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Reading Progress

December 31, 2017 – Started Reading
January 2, 2018 – Finished Reading
January 3, 2018 – Shelved
January 3, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 3, 2018 – Shelved as: supernatural

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