The Silent Companion by Laura Purcell


The Silent Companions, Laura Purcell, 2017

My favorite quote: “Sometimes, the brain cannot cope with the information it has to process. It makes sense of trauma in odd ways.”

Notable characters: Elsie Bainbridge, co-manager of a factory; Rupert, her recently (and mysteriously) deceased husband; Sarah, Rupert’s unusual cousin

Most memorable scene: When the locked door of the attic room opens on its own and Elsie sees the Bainbridge family’s vast and strange collection of silent companions

Greatest strengths: The prose is absolutely beautiful here without being evasive or over-flowery

Standout achievements: I’d put this Victorian ghost story right up there with the best of them — Turn of the Screw, A Christmas Carol, you name it — in my opinion, The Silent Companions is worthy to stand beside any one of them

Fun Facts: While there are a few theories about the purpose of dummy boards, aka silent companions (a practical joke? A form of home security? Combatants against loneliness?) I’m not convinced anyone really knows quite what the European elite were thinking when they began this curious trend

Other media: N/A

What it taught me: That anything — and I mean ANYTHING — can be creepy. It’s all about the delivery (not that painted wooden figures of Victorian children need any help being creepy)

How it inspired me: Before I’d finished reading it, I suspected that this book would leave an indelible impression on my writer’s mind, and I wasn’t wrong. There’s a LOT of interesting stuff here. For one thing, this was the first time I’d ever even heard of dummy boards. I was fascinated, and after learning about them, I began exploring other strange, lesser known Victorian traditions. This led to a whole slew of spooky new story ideas — so thank you, creepy Victorians, for that

Additional thoughts: If you’re looking for gothic horror at it’s finest, you’ve just arrived

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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