The Silent Com­pan­ions

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - BOOKS -

Laura Pur­cell Raven Books £12.99

It’s 1865 and preg­nant Elsie Bain­bridge, newly wed and al­ready wid­owed, re­tires to her late hus­band’s run-down es­tate for her con­fine­ment. There she en­ters a night­mare world in­volv­ing painted wooden Dutch fig­ures – the tit­u­lar ‘silent com­pan­ions’ – that mys­te­ri­ously come alive. All the clas­sic in­gre­di­ents of gothic fic­tion are present in this de­but novel: the iso­lated coun­try house; sus­pi­cious vil­lagers; dis­agree­able ser­vants; a locked room in the attic; a ‘found’ se­cret di­ary de­tail­ing events from 1635. Un­for­tu­nately, this at­mo­spheric homage to the genre too of­ten re­sorts to cliche and cul­mi­nates in a de­noue­ment that stretches one’s will­ing­ness to sus­pend dis­be­lief.

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