Risen AGAIN!

THIS NOVEL BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO GOTHIC FIC­TION

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - READING CORNER - Haunt­ing read! Nicky Pel­le­grino BOOKS EDI­TOR

Anovel fea­tur­ing eerie painted fig­ures whose eyes move sounds like it might be a bit naff, but The Silent Com­pan­ions is any­thing but. This gothic ghost story is bril­liantly at­mo­spheric and very, very creepy.

It’s set in Eng­land in the late 1800s and you know things have gone badly wrong for its hero­ine Elsie right from the be­gin­ning be­cause she’s mute and in­car­cer­ated in a men­tal asy­lum. Her doc­tor coaxes her to write down the his­tory of how she ended up in such a state and so her spooky tale is told.

Elsie tells of how, preg­nant and newly wid­owed, she is sent to her hus­band’s crum­bling old estate in the coun­try to await the birth of their child. It’s an un­wel­com­ing place staffed by very few ser­vants as none of the lo­cal vil­lagers will go near it. At night, she hears a mys­te­ri­ous hiss­ing sound that the res­i­dent house­keeper blames on rats up in the gar­ret. But the door has been locked for years and there’s no key.

Then mys­te­ri­ously, the door is found open. Elsie and her com­pan­ion Sarah ex­plore the dusty gar­ret and come across the di­ary of Anne Bain­bridge, who lived in the house 200 years ear­lier, as well as a cu­ri­ous painted fig­ure of a little girl. They take both down­stairs to the main house. Big mis­take. Big, huge mis­take!

More and more painted boards be­gin to ap­pear and mys­te­ri­ously they seem to be able to move from room to room. Mean­while, Anne’s di­ary re­veals why the house and the fam­ily that own it have been liv­ing un­der a curse. And Elsie’s own trou­bled his­tory be­gins to emerge.

The sense of men­ace builds beau­ti­fully in this clas­si­callystyled ghost story. The weather freezes, blood is spilt and evil walks. It’s tremen­dous stuff if you’re a fan of a good haunt­ing.

Yes, there are some worn-out clichés here: the big, di­lap­i­dated house, the noises in the night, the sin­is­ter paint­ings. But Laura Pur­cell takes these com­mon ghost­story in­gre­di­ents and turns them into some­thing spe­cial.

The Silent Com­pan­ions is both chill­ing and com­pelling. Though I don’t re­ally be­lieve in ghosts, it man­aged to creep me out com­pletely.

The Silent Com­pan­ions

by Laura Pur­cell (Blooms­bury, RRP $26.99).

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