Thursday, April 10, 2014

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

Finally, someone heard my plea to write a ghosty story that's not full of gore, has a compelling storyline, and a bit of history tossed in as well.  That someone is Simone St. James, and this is her third novel.  I am distressed that I have to wait another whole year to read her next novel, but that means I will be nearing graduation from school and I'll need something to read that will keep me balanced that last month.  I've already penciled in a release date for Simone's next novel, The Other Side of Midnight.  

If you're a reader of my blog, you'll know I've read Simone's first two novels, and this is her third.  Each novel takes place in England after World War I.  Each deals with the consequences of a war that drove men mad, changed a nation, and continued to echo through every day life years after it was over.  

In Silence for the Dead, Kitty Weekes finds herself at Portis House, a desolate gigantic mansion on the coast of England that's been turned into a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers returning from the battlefields of World War I.  It's 1919, and even though the war is over, the echoes of war are still being felt.  Kitty arrives at Portis House with no money, no where else to go, and a lie:  she claims to be a nurse, but isn't.  Her motto might well be "fake it 'til you make it"; that's how Kitty has lived her life in London, running away from home and finding work wherever she can.  Portis House is damp, creepy, understaffed, and falling apart.  Kitty begins her work as a nurse aiding a group of men who are in various stages of mental health because of their experiences in war.  

Something isn't right at Portis House.  The men wake each night screaming from nightmares, and refuse to talk about them.  The west wing is closed off, forbidden to anyone.  Those knocks and noises in the men's bathroom,  the black mold that creeps around.  "He's coming".  Who's coming?  What's going on?  Are the men really seeing and hearing things, or is it part of their mental illness?  Why have men tried to kill themselves in one particular spot, outside the 'isolation room' that was previously the library?  

The story slowly builds, as you get to know Kitty and her incredible determination to survive.  The men become characters you feel for, and hope that they'll overcome their demons.  And there's Jack, the secret patient who keeps to himself, but whom Kitty finds compelling and mysterious.  There are enough spooky moments to keep the action moving along, but nothing that is over the top and ridiculous.  Just enough to make you aware, as it does Kitty, that there's something very wrong at Portis House.  Can she figure it out before something horrible happens?  

Loved this one.  Here are Simone's two other novels.  Each is a stand alone and you can read them in any order:

Here's my review from March 2012
Here's my review from March 2012

Here's my review from March 2013

Rating:  8/10 for a good plot, a heroine you can't help but cheer for, and an interesting plot.

Available in paperback, audio, and e-book format.

1 comment :

  1. I added this to my Goodreads TBR and am moving it right to the top. I am always looking for quality stand-alone spooky books with a good grip on atmosphere and character. It's nice to come across something that has some depth to it. Sometimes I feel like horror is an ignored genre when it comes to carefully crafting a work worth more than jump scares.