It’s the spooky season and for this month’s book club recommendation, I ask that you keep an open mind.
When it comes to horror stories, people either love them or hate them. For years I thought horror stories were simply bloodbaths that relied on spectacle to gross people out. I can’t deny that some of them involve a bunch of blood and guts being splashed around, but there’s so much more to the genre than that.
There’s a whole other type of horror that relies on something that we in the biz call narrative drive. They’re suspenseful, thrilling (and often chilling) tales that make you constantly wonder what will happen next. Oh sure, there are dead bodies lying around, but the focus isn’t on the gore, it’s on the spookiness.
These are the stories that focus on things that go bump in the night; ghosts, demons, witches, vampires, headless horsemen and in the case of this month’s book selection, wooden statues that look like dearly departed family members.
Some of these books can really get in your head and freak you out. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice scared me half to death. But, I realize that not everyone wants to be terrified. And let’s be honest, 2020 is frightening enough.
So, for this month’s book club, I’ve chosen The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell. This is a novel for those who aren’t really sure if they like horror. It’s got all the elements we look for in the genre, but it’s not too scary. It leans more toward gothic literature than modern horror so you’re not likely to have nightmares. It’s almost like a cross between horror and crime with a dash of psychological thriller.
It jumps around in time between a Victorian insane asylum in 1865/1866, and a witch hunt in 1635. The common thread is that in both eras, the protagonists live in the same haunted house. The 19th century portion follows Elsie Bainbridge as she tells her story to a doctor in St. Joseph’s Hospital. People have died and the question is, did Elsie kill them or were they killed by possessed wooden statues created two hundred years earlier by Elsie’s ancestor by marriage, the witch Anne Bainbridge.
If you’re looking for a Hallowe’en book that isn’t too scary and won’t make you lose sleep, give The Silent Companions a try. You might surprise yourself and discover that you quite enjoy horror stories!
The audiobook is not available in North America so I couldn’t give it a proper review. However, the three-minute sample I heard was quite promising!