Book Review | The Silent Companions
Book summary: Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge. 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. (Waterstones)
The Silent Companions reminded me a lot of Crimson Peak, which many people assumed to be a horror film because it featured ghosts in a haunting gothic setting. Actually, it was much more of a romance story that simply happened to have some supernatural elements to it.
The reason this book reminds me of that is because, while this does actually have supernatural forces that are intended to be creepy, it never felt that way to me. With the story jumping between three different time-frames, it felt much more like a mystery to be pieced together with the clues given.
Another reason why it didn't work is that I didn't really feel a strong enough connection with any of the characters to buy into what they were thinking. And with the entire novel being told from two characters' points of view, it did kind of undermine things.
It's also strange to me that two female point-of-view characters, written by a female author, Laura Purcell, should be portrayed as so lacking in conviction. I get why other characters might make them feel that way, but their lack of any real conviction in their experiences means I felt the same way about them.
It all makes for a rather lacklustre experience that fails to satisfy. The sudden ending is particularly frustrating, as it feels like there is so much story to tell that could be extremely interesting. It does also feel a little like this was written in the hope of being converted to film or television, with certain moments not really working as surprises when written, but feel like they would in a visual format.
The Silent Companions is written well enough to be an enjoyable read while it lasts, but a predictable story line and unsatisfying, abrupt ending ultimately renders the whole thing a little disappointing. I kept hoping for some kind of inventive twist or reveal to make things memorable, but it never came.