The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Published by Raven Books
With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure - a Silent Companion - that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself...
This is a great gothic novel by Laura Purcell in the style of Sarah Water's The Little Stranger in that the principle character is a house, in this case The Bridge, family home of Elsie's recently deceased husband Rupert. She arrives, a former match girl, to this crumbling mansion where stories and rumours about her new home mean that none of the locals will set foot in her home to even work for her. Upon exploration with her companion Sarah, they discover some wooden figures, scarily lifelike hidden away in the garret. Sarah decides that she will like them out in the house as company and they take them downstairs. It is this move that seals the fate of this novel.
The book moves back and forth in time, in the present day, 1866, Elsie is in an asylum for the criminally insane after a fire at The Bridge which has left her without a voice. We also go back in time to the 1600s to the lives of Rupert's ancestors which include the mysterious Hetta, born without a tongue. The silent companions travel throughout the story, and I don't want to spoil anything but they are wonderfully creepy throughout.
The best bit about the book for me though was the ending and I say that because I have a real 'thing' about endings that leave me feeling 'meh' or 'pfff' - don't get me started on Gone Girl again, but this book has a proper ending. One that made me inhale sharply as I read the final words on the last page. That is what I want to read in a book, not some flaky 'I'll just finish it like this' ending but a proper, thought out closure and The Silent Companions has this in spades.
Go read, be haunted!
Miss Chapters x