Laura Purcell is an auto buy author for me. I fell in love with The Silent Companions and after that she secured herself ‘auto buy’ status from me! I love how deliciously gothic and creepy her books are and this one was on my radar months ago!
I love the Gothic troupe of an old crumbling house and a crazy lady in the attic, and this book totally sounded like it would meet all of my expectations. Purcell has a wonderful way of sending chills up readers spines without even trying! To say that I was excited for this one is an understatement!
In the UK this one is also called Bone China and I was kind of sad to see that the US publisher changed the name to The House of Whispers, but in the end I think either title worked well for this book. At any rate, I couldn’t wait to start this one!
A new gothic Victorian tale from Laura Purcell, set on the atmospheric Cornish coast in a rambling house by the sea in which a maid cares for a mute old woman with a mysterious past, alongside her superstitious staff.
Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr. Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the disease in the caves beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.
Forty years later, Hester arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralyzed and mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try to escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers her new home may be just as dangerous as her last. (summary from Goodreads)
This book literally had me at Victorian Gothic house in Cornwall. It could have been about anything and the setting alone would have caught me eye. Some of the reviews I had read said this wasn’t her best book but I disagree. I mean, The Silent Companions is still my favorite but I thought this book was equally as interesting and compelling. It was moody with all the atmosphere I have come to expect with her writing. I was hooked immediately and couldn’t put it down. I also downloaded the Audible performance to listen to while I was running errands (that’s how much I loved this one) and the audio performance was fan-f-ing-tastic.
So one thing that I did notice with this one was that there were a few plots going on but I thought that made it all the more unsettling and creepy. I wasn’t sure how things were going to connect and the dark plots converging together heightened the sense of growing unease in the book. Because of that growing unease from the different plots, as a reader it really made me uncomfortable, but in a good way—in the way that well done Gothic fiction is meant to and it worked for me in this book.
This book was complex, disturbing and dark. I loved how the Cornish folklore played into the overall narrative as well. The setting was perfect and I read it at the coast too so that really added to my enjoyment. As with every Purcell book that I’ve read, this book is well written, well researched with so much amazing Gothic goodness and not to mention, Purcell is a very talented writer. I have loved all of her books thus far and am eager to see what she comes out with next. If you love Gothic fiction and want something creepy to keep you reading into the night, this is the book for you dark hearts!