Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thrills and Chills in the best Gothic Style

Simone St. James
April 1, 2014

Silence for the Dead opens in 1919 England and Kitty Weekes is headed to Portis House, a remote mansion in which men shell-shocked by their wartime experiences are treated, hopefully to recover and be able to resume a normal life. Kitty has been hired as a nurse, which she is not, and under an assumed name. She is on the run from an unknown menace and Portis House seems her best chance of refuge. When Kitty arrives at Portis House she finds that nothing is quite as it seems. There doesn't appear to be much real therapy for the men, the work is grueling and what about the mysterious "Patient Sixteen"; an inmate who is not seen by the other residents and only by staff with "clearance". And how about the things that go bump in the night and the nightmares that plague the men?

Simone St. James breathed new life into the Gothic genre with her first book, The Haunting of Maddy Clare, and An Inquiry into Love and Death, her second. Silence for the Dead is a worthy third novel exploring the period following WWI and I enjoy the historical accuracy of the books. Shell-shocked veterans suffered greatly from their malady and were also burdened by social stigma. Kitty is a brave and resourceful heroine and she is surrounded by a well-rounded cast of characters. Besides the chills, a very satisfactory romance develops.

I did not find Silence for the Dead quite as frightening as her two previous novels and the end seemed somewhat rushed to me. Therefore I am giving the book a 4.5 rather than 5 stars. I would recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction especially those who enjoy gothic thrills along with the history. This edition includes an excerpt from her next book, The Other Side of Midnight. I am counting the days already!

RATING- 4.5 Stars

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