The Silent Companions popped up on the proof list for a second time, it had caught my eye the first time but I had just read The Wicked Cometh and didn’t fancy another book set in the 1800s. When it popped up again I knew I had to request a copy, @smokintofu from What Page Podcast had raved about this book and two other booky people had recommended The Silent Companions so I was ready to dive in.
Set in 1865, the recent bride and widow Elsie Bainbridge goes to see out her pregnancy in peace at their country estate, The Bridge. The Bridge is resented by locals and up in the locked garrett Elsie come across the two-hundred year-old hand painted wooden statues – the companions.
The Silent Companions is really REALLY good. It’s eerie from the off, the start of the novel reminded me a little of See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. Elsie is a wilful character, she’s quite no-nonsense but as the book progresses you see more tragic side to Elsie. The starts going in a bit of a Woman In Black direction quite early on and there’s one part of the book that went a little Final Destination and gave me actual chills.
Purcell’s writing has great pace, she keeps the tensions going with every page. There’s sections of the novel that take place in the 1600s and Purcell keeps the pages turning and weaves her timelines together perfectly. The line “Perhaps you don’t belong in an at all.” plays in the back of your mind while your reading Elsie’s story and I found myself trying to constantly guess the outcome of the novel. You’re given hints at the start as to where the story will end but there’s more than a few unexpected dark twists.
I was reading this book on a dark, windy night and credit to Purcell her story was so good it made me question every creak in my house. The Silent Companions took me all of two days to read and it was one of the most enjoyably, twisty books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a gothic delight which will leave you shivering.
Definitely one for the long winter nights.
THIS IS DEFINITELY MY NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR.
The United States of Absurdity by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds illustrated by James Fosdike is one of the funniest books I’ve ever come across.
I was only introduced to The Dollop a few months ago by one of my best friends. I’m somewhat of a podcast addict, I love Night Vale, My Favourite Murder and Hamish & Andy. When I first listened to The Dollop is wasn’t feeling it, then my friend said “Listen to the Rube episode.” after that I was hooked.
Earlier this year the hosts of The Dollop announced they were releasing a book, obviously I couldn’t wait.
I don’t even know where to start when taking about this book as it’s so obscure. If like me you have no interest in American history whatsoever, this is the book for you! Every page of The United States of Absurdity is hilarious. Dave Anthony and Garry Reynolds have plucked some of the most ridiculous stories from America’s past, by the time you reach the end of this book you’ll be left fathoming how as a race we are still alive.
Have you heard of Oofty Goofy or Ten-Cent Beer Night? No, of course you haven’t, but they’re amazing stories you need to read to believe!
The illustrations by James Fosdike are great and a little traumatising (check out The Stomach Men page for nightmare fuel).
This book is worth every penny and I really hope they decide to do a sequel.
Months ago when Joseph Fink announced that there would be a Night Vale novel I knew I’d be doing everything in my power to get hold of an advance copy. Last year I was lucky enough to get tickets to Welcome to Night Vale at the Union Chapel in Islington and it was easily one of the best events I’d ever been to, so when the release date of the novel was announced I was ready to drop everything and start badgering Orbit for a proof copy. Then I had a baby and completely forgot, so I was over the moon when @BooksellerEmma contacted me saying she had a proof of Welcome to Night Vale, I knew what I had to do….
A wonderful woman at Little Brown made sure there was a copy of Welcome to Night Vale in my hands within a couple of days of asking and I can not thank them enough for making sleepless nights bearable. So, with my copy of Night Vale in hand I managed to read the first chapter about 4 times before my daughter finally gave me a full hour to get into this book.
I had chills as I read the introduction page. I knew this was going to be the most anticipated book I’d read all year.
From the number one podcast, Welcome to Night Vale opens up this ‘friendly desert town, where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while everyone pretends to sleep.’ And Night Vale fans need not worry as this novel is every bit as creepy, contradictory and down right weird as you’d expect it to be.
The main story revolves around Jacky Fierro, the nineteen year old owner of Night Vale’s only pawnshop and her encounter with the elusive ‘man-in-the-tanned-jacket’ and Diane Crayton, treasurer of the Night Vale PTA, who is trying to track down her ex-husband/father to her teenage son.
If you’re anything like me you will end up reading the entire novel with Cecil’s voice in your head. Welcome to Night is a really interesting read and was not what I was expecting but still entertaining, nevertheless. I’d gone weeks without having any real reading time but I was so hooked with Welcome to Night I sacrificed my own rest to read as much as I could whilst my spawn slept. Once reaching the end of this long awaited novel I knew I’d gone in over excited and I had high expectations that were definitely met, so other Night Valeans will be very pleased. There is so many references to characters, storylines and pivotal plot points that you end up going back and listening to certain episodes just to catch the snippet of story you may have just read.
The one problem I did have with the novel was some of the dialogue. Every now and then the story veers into one of Cecil’s broadcasts and these just don’t read particularly well compared to the main story involving Diane and Jackie. It jars with the other chapters and takes you out of the moment sometimes. But it does feel like these chapters are more a benefit to the forthcoming audiobook as the podcasts aren’t just about the story but about Cecil’s voice, the audio effects and the soundscapes created by the Fink and Cranor that are woven into the Night Vale experience.
I didn’t dislike the broadcasts but by the end of the novel it’s really obvious that the writing style in the rest of the novel is much better.
This novel is a great achievement for Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and I hope it’s the first of many in the Night Vale canon. They haven’t just created a strange fictional town, they’ve created a real community that accepts everyone, however weird or wonderful of five headed you (unless you’re an interloper, in that case you can get out). But I urge every Night Vale fan to pre-order a copy of the novel because Fink and Cranor have really done the podcast justice.
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
published by Orbit – UK Hardback 9780356504834
It’s not since Harry Potter that I’ve gotten silly about a book but the forthcoming publication of the Welcome to Night Vale book has got me sick with excitement.
Coming from the minds that brought us one of the world’s most popular podcasts, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor let us delve deeper into this eery desert town. Due to be published on 20th October 2015 by Little Brown Book Group, this will be a must read for fans of Stephen King, Sarah Lotz and for anyone thats watched Twin Peaks.
This months podcast is the first chapter read brilliantly by Cecil himself and it’ll leave you itching to pre-order this book. (Waterstones are doing an exclusive edition and a chance to win one of 10 Night Vale prints.)
Two years ago I stumbled across the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and upon my first listen I thought I was listening to some X-Files-esque radio show that crossed the border between entertainment and horror. Episodes of the podcast freaked me out to no avail so when they finally announced that they were bringing their live tour to London I snapped up tickets. Taking place in the Union Chapel this was the perfect setting for one of Night Vales creepiest stories yet.
If you see something, say nothing and drink to forget.