Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself slowly as a long, low shadow.…
In 1919 Kitty Weekes - pretty, resourceful, and on the run - falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House - its plaster is crumbling; its plumbing makes eerie noises; and strange, cold breaths of air waft through the empty rooms. It's known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?
Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman…or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.
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excellent neoclassic gothic horror
I have been given set questions by the audible software which I find offensive and I will ignore. Also, I should warn you that I personally really appreciate what so many refer to as 'spoilers' in book reviews. If I don't know someone, I find it totally useless to be told 'I loved it, you should read it' as a review. I want to have a sense of what is in the book and how it ends. If I'm in a bookstore I will look through the book to see if children are killed off (my personal shiboleth) and to see if it has a decent ending. I don't want to waste my time on books that become duds in the last 50 pages, and I think most blurbs are usually pretty useless.
That said, I just finished listening to Silence for the Dead, and it was exactly the book I was ready for at this point. (I've been wishing that Mary Stewart's gothics would be made into audiobooks.) It is not great literature, but it is a really well written thriller with great characters and real ghosts plus a nice romance. It takes place right after WWI and deals with ex-soldiers in England who are institutionalized with PTSD. The heroine scams her way into a nursing job at the isolated mansion which has been turned into a hospital. The heroine herself has been traumatized in her life, and has had to become quite tough to survive. I really appreciate a heroine who is not upper class, not stupid and not vaporish. The hero is also working class and very real, not the fake so-called alpha that we are so often saddled with these days. The author does a very good job of building the tension, not too fast, not too slow, while setting the scene of the life of the staff and patients in the asylum. There are plenty of plot twists and while anyone who has read this genre will be able to make some pretty good guesses from the clues that are given out along the way, I still found it to be intriguing enough that I read to the end with great satisfaction.
Also, I have to say very good things about the reader, Mary Jane Wells. She did an excellent job with this book, distinguishing different characters well and pacing the book at the right tempo. I really appreciate a reader who doesn't overdramatize a book, but let's the author's voice come through. Her male voices could use work, but that is true of almost every female reader I've heard. (And vice versa for male readers...) Her English dialects sounded very good to me, an American with a fair amount of exposure to the UK and its regional speech patterns. I looked to see what else she has recorded so far, and there are not many books, and I didn't see another one I'm interested in, but she should definitely be considered a potential top-tier reader.
And after all that, I don't think I did put in any spoilers. And by the way, no explicit sex, if you don't count a few kisses. Just FYI.
- Hope "I love well-written books in virtually every genre. Quirky characters delight me, and it breaks my heart when a good plot is badly done."
- Skipper "A trilogy. Say it in three. Done."