I got this gorgeous covered book for my birthday this year, and it’s not my usual go-to genre but it sounded really intriguing so I couldn’t wait to dive in and find out about the silent companions. The match-book blurb goes like this: Our recently widowed protagonist is sent to see out her pregnancy in her late husband’s disintegrating country estate – but spooky things start to happen and haunt the residents.
One of the fun things about this version of the book is that the cover hides a lot of secrets from the story itself, and it’s great to flick back to the cover once you’ve uncovered it and have that ‘ahhh!’ moment!
Author Essie Fox says on the cover “Compelling and claustrophobic. The pages all but turn by themselves” but is that really true or is that all bluff? Well, for me, it’s a bit of both – the pages do seem to turn by themselves, but it’s not because the story is super compelling, but instead because it’s such an easy read.
This book was so close to being a creepy story! The setting was good, the writing was (for the most part) good, the concept was good – but there was no spark, no magic, no…oomph. I guess it all comes down to the atmosphere, which this didn’t really have. That, coupled with a lack of authenticity in places really stopped this book from being all it could be, which is such a shame because this book was full of promise.
“Elsie followed the sound of it, a rope tethering her to a world of reality and servants rather than the phantasmagoria that raged inside her imagination.”
No don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean it’s not riddled with clichés on every other page – because it is. In fact, it practically ticks every box on the “horror story” checklist: heirlooms, an ancient house in disrepair, sinister and untrustworthy children, a troubled pregnancy, an asylum, a found diary – honestly the list goes on and on. I think that if you’re new to this genre (or don’t read it often) then the clichés won’t really bother you that much, but for horror aficionados this will become tedious quickly.
Because let’s face it – this book has been done before and honestly, it’s been done better. Go and read Turn of the Screw or The Woman in Black or any other books similar to them and you’ll see exactly what I mean. It just didn’t feel original – again, if you’re new to this you’ll like it, but if you’re not this will be an eye-roller.
“’Do it,’ Mabel whispered. ‘Hack her up and burn the buggers to hell.’”
Even if you’ve not read a lot of horror (or seen a lot of horror films) the ending will likely not shock you and you will see it coming a mile off, which is a shame, but not that surprising for this book.
It’s also not as scary as I’d hoped, and I think this is due to a number of reasons. The first is that emotional scenes lack emotion. For example, this book deals with (in some form or other) miscarriage and child abuse – but there’s no emotion to this – it’s practically written as a list of facts. Secondly, the flashbacks are not explained well and things get a bit muddled at times. In fact all of Anne’s chapters were a bit….meh. The pacing was quite slow. Thirdly, whilst the descriptions were beautiful, they were too long at times and thus, the author gave us too much information at times – let us use our imagination! It can be so much scarier!
“You could not explain fear; you could only feel it.”
As an aside – I also found our protagonist to be a bit of a bitch and I honestly thought she got what was coming to her at times (not all the time, but definitely some of it!)
Ultimately, despite its flaws, this is still a fun read (for most people) – but it definitely falls into the cute ‘spoopy’ category rather than the full on ‘spooky’ one. The final third felt rushed but the first two felt well done.
It’s a good book, but easily forgettable but is worth buying just for its gorgeous cover!
“She did not mind when he closed the door, plunging her back into gloom.”
Want to find out if The Silent Companions scares you? You can get it here!
[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review – all the opinions are honest and my own.