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The Silent Companions
When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.
A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.
My Thoughts: 4 Stars
The Silent Companions was an incredibly eerie, heebie jeebie inducing, something going bump in the night type of story. Elsie is a new bride... and a new widow. Pregnant with her deceased husband's child, she is on her way to his ancestral home where he has died without warning. Her new beginning on this backwoods, superstitious town does not start well. Her carriage wheel gets stuck, there is ankle deep mud and muck, a random cow, and unfriendly people who live in the town with rundown homes. What she does not know is that this first impression will be the most positive experience she has for her entire time living in her new environment. Stuck with her late husband's cousin Sarah, the two women will need to form a bond in order to survive what the future holds for them. After the ordeal of her husband's funeral, things suddenly go downhill fast for Elsie and the household. There are too many secrets hidden in the house, and this house holds a grudge.
Strange sounds start up during the night and Elsie is determined to find out what is the source. Is it rats? Is it something worse? The answer lies behind a locked door in the garret, but that door opens mysteriously one day before the locksmith comes to fix it. Inside, Sarah, Elsie and the lovely black cat find something that will haunt them the rest of their days. Sarah finds two diaries from a previous wife that lived in the house a couple hundred years ago. That diary will be the key to figuring out what is going on and if it is madness overtaking them, or if there truly is something haunting this old house. Elsie is not as fortunate in her findings. There are companions, wooden cutouts of realistic painted people, in the attic.
This story spans the time of Elsie in her current day living in an asylum and the doctor who is determined to cure her and get her sent to trial, Elsie as a new widow, and a past woman who was married to the heir of the house back in the 1600's. All three story lines tie together beautifully, making the story flow evenly. I am not one to get creeped out while reading a story, but this author did an amazing job. At one point I had goosebumps and, thankfully for the mask that kept my facial expression hidden, I am sure a horrified look on my face. This is a book that will definitely stick with a person long after they put it down.