By Laura Purcell
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.
Honestly, I think I fell in love with the book after reading the synopsis. This story has all the ingredients of a Victorian gothic ghost/horror story of the very best kind. Star with a setting in a creepy asylum. Add in a story that goes back to 1860s, where a widowed woman travels to a Victorian estate filled with creepy dolls that seem to be the real owners and caretakers of the house and sprinkle with a diary from 1630s which tells the real origins of the story and you’re in for a few nights of sleeping with the lights on.
The storytelling is immense in this book. There’s three different time periods; Elsie’s present, her past and Anne’s diary (which is told in the first person). Three timeline lines yet the storytelling is so flawless, I had no trouble following it.
I loved the writing: so pure and so visual yet not overwhelming. Too often, whenever I read a period novel, the author gets so caught up in details of either the scene or clothing I tend to lose connection with the story. While I love a well-researched novel, I think a good author will know how much detail to add without overpowering the story with historical facts. Laura Purcell balances this out perfectly in this book. I was able to be transported and yet kept my focus on what was going on in the story.
The story ends with a twist and I almost wasn’t sure what exactly happened until I read it over a few times. One question I was left with was why did the companions even come to the house? I know how they were acquired but I wasn’t sure if it was the intention of the dolls to be obtained by Anne? Or were they affected by the house? Did Hetta summon them? I love that I was left with these questions and then at the same time, I want to know the answer to these questions.
My advice – If you love gothic horror, then you will LOVE this book. I would read it at night while the snow falls and the wind howls. Grab your favorite blanket and a cup of tea. This novel doesn’t disappoint!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐