The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell #BookReview #HO17

HorrorOct2017

 

ThesilentcompanionTitle: The Silent Companions
Author: Laura Purcell
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details: October 5th 2017 by Raven Books
Genre(s): Horror; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Inspired by the work of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill and set in a crumbling country mansion, The Silent Companions is an unsettling gothic ghost story to send a shiver down the spine…

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. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself.

Review

 

 

The premise of this book had me at ‘Susan Hill’ and ‘crumbling mansion’, and although it wasn’t without its flaws, I ended up really enjoying it.

In The Silent Companions, we first meet Elsie in an institution. She can’t talk and the doctors seem very wary of her; she’s mad; a lost cause. But there is one doctor who tries to help her to communicate, to hear her story.

Elsie tells the story of how she came to The Bridge, an old mansion with incompetent staff, pregnant and husbandless. Now a Lady of the House, Elsie tries to adjust to her new life, but the mansion is strange, cold, and unwelcoming. Her only friend is Sarah her late husband’s sister, who she finds dull, but beggars can’t be choosers as they say.

When Elsie and Sarah come across a locked attic room whilst exploring the house, they wonder what could possibly be up there. Then, all of a sudden, the door isn’t locked anymore. In the room is something that will propel a series of bizarre and dangerous events – a silent companion.

I had never heard of silent companions, and this book compelled me to look them up. They are strange wooden paintings made to look like people with shading and the like. They’re pretty creepy by all accounts, especially when they start multiplying and moving of their own accord!

It took me a while to get into this book- I wasn’t a fan of the beginning- but by the time Elsie and Sarah found the first companion I was already starting to get intrigued, and from then on I was hooked.

What I struggled with was the structure. Now, I don’t know whether it was down to the digital proof (which could be resolved now it’s published) but there was no indication of when we shifted in time which was really off putting. It threw me off on a lot of occasions. It also took me a while to realise that a second storyline came from a diary that Sarah found – also in the attic – and gave us an origin story as to the original ghost/companions. It would have certainly benefited from a dinkus or *** each time, so the reader doesn’t have to work too hard in figuring out where they are in the story, and whose storyline we are following.

However, this was a great read overall. As the premise suggests, it is a return to a traditional ghost story in the style of the likes of Susan Hill & Shirley Jackson, and it’s an impressive diversion from Purcell’s usual historical fictions.

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Up Next on Horror October:

30 days of Horror: What will day 16 bring?

Horror October: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill #BookReview #HorrorOctober

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a2Title: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories
Author: Susan Hill
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 160 pages
Publication Details: September 29th 2016 by Profile Books
Genre(s): Short Story Collection; Supernatural; Ghost Stories
Disclosure? Nope I bought it! 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

Walter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.

Why ?

Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb.

Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge.

Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance, he might have succeeded.

Review

As I mentioned in my recent review of Self-Made Man by Poppy Z Brite, short story collections are always a bit ht and miss for me. I find short stories in general to be too vague, too brief, or just downright confusing. However, I do think an exception to the rule is generally when concerning ghost stories.

I think ghost stories tend to work in this medium. Being short and snappy and not too complex is often what make a great ghost story in my opinion, and so I was hoping for good things from this new Susan Hill collection. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I enjoyed the titular story very much. Hill mastered the whole eerie atmosphere/building suspense thing a long time ago, and you can see it here in spades. Plus, the pay off is worth it too. This story creeped me out because I, like one of the characters, am terrified of moths. They’re just gross. No need!

Other stories include Boy Twenty-One, a gentle story about two friends, one whom disappears, and then returns…but no one else can see him. This had to be my least favourite. It wasn’t bad, just a little predictable.

Alice Baker, however, the third story in this collection was by far my favourite. Hill has such a stunning way of making ordinary things seem spooky. Like a new girl in an office of close, seemingly-too-nice-to-be-true colleagues.

The fourth and final story, The Front Room is one I can barely remember to be honest. It features an evil mother taken in by her son and daughter-in-law and that’s about all my caffeine-addled brain can squeeze out right now. Obviously it didn’t blow me away!

So there you have it. A mixed bag but very enjoyable overall. A great book to batten down the hatches with this Halloween.

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The Travelling Bag is available in a stunning pocket hardback, and is 30% off at The Book Depository now. 

 

This Week on Books 12.10.16 #TWIB #HorrorOctober

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

 

Greetings blog friends. It’s been another busy old week in the land of Horror October; Here’s what I’ve been reading…

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Now:  The Travelling Bag and other Ghostly Stories ~ Susan Hill

I’ve almost finished this story collection. I’ve enjoyed it, but it hasn’t blown me away.

Then:  Reckless ~ Cornelia Funke 

I found this really disappointing considering how much I’ve enjoyed her other books. My review will be up on Saturday. 

Next: ??? 

Definitely Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski, or the author might cry. Or pull out of the Flash Fiction Battle. I’m not sure which would be worse. :p 

New on the Shelves

Nothing – I’ve been very restrained this week!

 

OK, that’s it for this week. I’m not going to be taking part in Waiting on Wednesday during October because… well, there’s enough going on around here!
 
 

If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look 🙂

Up Next on Horror October: This Year in Horror (part 2)

Welcome to Horror October 2016!

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Prepare yourselves, Horror October is back!

Autumn is the best time of year to read all of those books you’ve been too scared to open and to curl up on the sofa to watch you favourite scary movie, so once again I’m dedicating a whole month to doing just that. Horror October #4 is here!

However, if you’re not a fan of horror, do not fret. As ever, I’m using the term quite loosely and hope there will be something to suit everyone. 

I’m also super-excited to be doing something a little different this year, and I need you guys to get involved. Keep reading if you dare…

Here’s what’s coming up:

1. The Books

I doubt I’ll get through all of these within the month but I’m going to give it a bloody good try. Click the links to visit their Goodreads pages.

New & Upcoming Releases

 

Haunt Me ~ Liz Kessler

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Joe wakes up from a deep sleep to see his family leave in a removals van. Where they’ve gone, he has no idea. Erin moves house and instantly feels at home in her new room. Even if it appears she isn’t the only one living in it. Bit by bit, Erin and Joe discover that they have somehow found a way across the ultimate divide – life and death. Bound by their backgrounds, a love of poetry and their growing feelings for each other, they are determined to find a way to be together.

Joe’s brother, Olly, never cared much for poetry. He was always too busy being king of the school – but that all changed when Joe died. And when an encounter in the school corridor brings him face to face with Erin, he realises how different things really are – including the kind of girl he falls for.

Two brothers. Two choices. Will Erin’s decision destroy her completely, or can she save herself before she is lost forever? 

Expected publication: October 6th 2016 by Orion Children’s Books

 

a5Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.

Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…

Published: August 15th 2016 by Sinister Grin Press

Reckless 1: The Petrified Flesh ~ Cornelia Funke

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Enter the magical world behind the Mirrors…

Jacob has uncovered the doorway to another world, hidden behind a mirror. It is a place of dark magic and enchanted objects, scheming dwarves and fearsome ogres, fairies born from water and men born from stone.

Here, he hunts for treasure and seeks adventure in the company of Fox – a beautiful, shape-shifting girl, who guides and guards him.

But now Jacob’s younger brother has followed him into the mirrored world, and all that was freedom has turned to fear. Because a deadly curse has been spoken; and Jacob must risk his life to reverse it, before his brother is turned to stone forever…

Revised and updated by Cornelia Funke, The Petrified Flesh is the first book in the thrilling Reckless series.

Published: September 29th by Pushkin Press

 

The Travelling Bag and other Ghostly Stories ~  Susan Hill

a2Walter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.

Why ?

Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb.

Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge. Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance, he might have succeeded.

Published: September 29th 2016 by Profile Books

 

The Daemoniac ~ Kat Ross

a4It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.

But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.

From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?

Expected publication: October 12th 2016 by Acorn

From the TBR Shelves:

 

The Merciless II ~ Danielle Vega

a6Danielle Vega—YA’s answer to Stephen King—once again brings major scares in the spine-tingling sequel to horror hit The Merciless, which MTV calls “Mean Girls meets The Exorcist.”

Sofia is still processing the horrific truth of what happened when she and three friends performed an exorcism that spiraled horribly out of control. Ever since that night, Sofia has been haunted by bloody and demonic visions. Her therapist says they’re all in her head, but to Sofia they feel chillingly real. She just wants to get out of town, start fresh someplace else . . . until her mother dies suddenly, and Sofia gets her wish.
 
Sofia is sent to St. Mary’s, a creepy Catholic boarding school in Mississippi. There, seemingly everyone is doing penance for something, most of all the mysterious Jude, for whom Sofia can’t help feeling an unshakeable attraction. But when Sofia and Jude confide in each other about their pasts, something flips in him. He becomes convinced that Sofia is possessed by the devil. . . . Is an exorcism the only way to save her eternal soul?

Readers won’t be able to look away from this terrifying read full of twists and turns that will leave them wondering, Is there evil in all of us?

Published: July 5th 2016 by Razorbill

 

missperegrineA mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

selfmade
This collection of 12 short stories from Poppy Brite contains collaborations with Christa Faust and David Ferguson and an introduction from Peter Straub. The collection also includes America, which features Steve and Ghost, the central characters in Lost Souls.

2. The Main Event

As I said earlier, I have planned something a little different this year. I’m hosting a Flash Fiction Battle!

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Four horror writers will fight it out for your votes on the best short story based on a theme chosen by you! More information will follow in my next post when votes will open!

 

3. Frightening Features & Gruesome Guest Posts

 

Jason Arnopp Guest Post

Jason’s recent horror novel The Last Days of Jack Sparks has been one of my favourites so far this year. I can’t rave about it enough. He is also the writer of Stormhouse, a Lionsgate horror film, a Friday the 13th novel and various Doctor Who books. I can’t wait for him to take over my blog later in the month. 

Pretty Wicked Book Blitz

“This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”

Poppy Z. Brite

I review Self-Made Man and discuss my fascination with Poppy Z. Brite

London FrightFest/ Film Reviews

Round-up of this years’ horror films and my time at Frightfest

This Year in Horror so far

Round-up of the horror books I’ve read so far this year

The Ultimate Halloween Sleepover Party

Planning a Halloween party? Well here’s everything you need for a successfully scary night in!

4. How to Get Involved

– Are you planning on reading or posting anything ghoulish or gruesome this month? If so let me know and I’ll link to your post on my weekly round-up

– Want to be a Horror October guest? I’m still open for guest posts, reviews, and spotlights. You’ll be fully credited and can still post on your own blog too so it’s a good opportunity to reach more people. Email me for more info.

– It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway…comment away! I’ll also be tweeting using #HorrorOctober. And don’t forget to vote!

-Use my Horror October or Flash Fiction Image on your sidebar to show your support.

– Follow me on Twitter to get all the latest goings on: @ lipsyy 

Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill

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Title: Printer’s Devil Court
Author: Susan Hill
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardback, 128 pages
Publication Details: September 25th 2014 by Profile Books
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Nope! I bought it.

Goodreads
Purchase

A mysterious manuscript lands on the desk of the step-son of the late Dr Hugh Meredith, a country doctor with a prosperous and peaceful practice in a small English town. From the written account he has left behind, however, we learn that Meredith was haunted by events that took place years before, during his training as a junior doctor near London’s Fleet Street, in a neighbourhood virtually unchanged since Dickens’s times.

Living then in rented digs, Meredith gets to know two other young medics, who have been carrying out audacious and terrifying research and experiments. Now they need the help of another who must be a doctor capable of total discretion and strong nerves.

‘Remember that what you know you can never un-know. If you are afraid, then…’

Review

Printer’s Devil Court is a short novella from acclaimed horror writer Susan Hill. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Susan Hill’s books over the years, and this one was no exception, but I can’t help just wanting to talk about how pretty this edition is. It’s really stunning with its embossed dark red dust jacket. I love it!

The story is deserving of such a beautiful cover too, which is always good.

As with many of Susan Hill’s ghost stories, this one is set in the Victorian era and is instantly chilling and atmospheric.

It follows an ambitious young doctor and his medical student friends who share a house in Printer’s Devil Court. Unbeknownst to our protagonist-and all-round-good-guy Hugh Meredith, he swears himself to secrecy and is embroiled in some unsavoury experiments on the dead. In turn, he finds himself being haunted by one of the experiments gone wrong.

I love the way Susan Hill creates spooky atmospheres in her books, and in this one we are taken through dark, isolated streets and foggy cemeteries as we weave our way through the nitty-gritty of the story.

I’m not usually a huge fan of stories as short as this, but I think it really works for ghost stories. They don’t need to be drawn out so much as long as the spooky elements are built up well, and Susan Hill is a genius at that.

I thought this was an absolute perfect read for a dark and stormy night.

unicorn rating 4

Printer’s Devil Court is available to buy here from Waterstones where you can also download a preview.

WWW Wednesday 15.10.14

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! Here are my answers this week:

WWWHO3

Currently Reading:
I’ve just started Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner. Not much to report so far but I’m really intrigued by the premise.

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Recently Finished:
I’ve been on a bit of a Horror October roll and have finished Doll Bones by Holly Black, Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill and Dark Satanic Mills by Julian and Marcus Sedgwick this week. All reviews will be up soon, Doll Bones, hopefully tomorrow.

Up Next:
More Horror October madness in the shape of Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair (shudder) or Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory.

Top Ten Tuesday: Horror Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

As it’s October, I thought I’d make it even harder for myself by choosing Horror/Thriller books.

Character-driven novels are those where the character’s arc is the main element of the story, rather than the actual plot. I’m not entirely sure if all the these books would officially be classed as character-driven, but they are all novels in which the characters are well developed and undergo some kind of personal growth throughout.

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1. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice: Whether it’s the books or the film you’re familiar with, Anne Rice’s Vampire tale is very character-led. Each character has a strong arc, and has completely changed by the end of it. Or are y’know, dead.

2. Procession of the Dead by D.B Shan: Darren Shan’s first series for adults is one of my favourites in the horror genre, as long as we don’t talk about the last book! Protagonist Capac Raimi begins as a lovable young rogue, turns into the thing he feared the most, and has a monumental fall from grace.

3. Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes: We follow Cathy from the present day where it’s clear that horrific events in her past have traumatised her beyond recognition. She has debilitating OCD and finds it hard to leave the house. Throughout the book we are taken back to the events that led up to her current state, and while this is also quite plot-driven, it’s very much about Cathy’s growth as a person, and letting go of the past.

4. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: I love this sequel to The Shining. We get to how little Danny Torrence grew up and how Abra Stone impacts his life. They are both strong characters who have intense character arcs. I felt like this book was much more character-driven than the first.

5 & 6. The Woman in Black & The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill: I feel like most of Susan Hill’s books are very character-driven. Maybe it’s because they are gently paced with an emphasis on the character’s reactions to the supernatural. These are the two books of hers that stand out for me, character-wise.

7. Doll Bones by Holly Black: This is my current read so I don’t know how it ends yet. It’s a creepy tale about dead girl’s spirit trapped inside a china doll, but really it’s about three pre-teen friends feeling pressured into growing up, and their loss of innocence and imagination.

Gah I hate it when I can’t think of 10. What did I miss?