I bought this book purely for its prettiness, but it turned out to be a situation of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.
I read it in November on my mini honeymoon to Český Krumlov, a fairytale-like town in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. I often crave dark, mysterious novels in the autumn and The Silent Companions sounded like just the thing, with reviews promising a haunting Gothic tale.
At first I thought I was in luck. The book was easy to get into with a sinister plot and an atmospheric setting. In fact, it kept my attention all through the train journey. However, after the scene had been set, I was disappointed to find the book was full of clichés and obvious plot twists.
Set in the 1860s, most of the action takes place in a creepy old house. The recently widowed Elsie Bainbridge has moved there from London and is not pleased with her new circumstances. There’s something not quite right about the house. Strange noises interrupt Elsie’s sleep at night and objects seem to move from one room to another as if by magic. At first I found all this terrifying and even became irrationally scared of a portrait in our B&B room. Unfortunately the tension did not last and I was soon rolling my eyes as characters started dropping like flies due to one unexplained accident after another.
I could see the twists coming a long way off and once you’ve worked out what’s behind all the deadly and mysterious happenings, the story loses the fear factor. It’s a shame, but by the end, I really lost interest in whether the characters lived or died and was eager to finish so I could get on to my next read.
I think there are some much better examples of Gothic horror out there (although I haven’t actually read as many as I’d like – suggestions are welcome!), so my advice would be to ignore the pretty cover and find another book to read.