Penguin Publishing Group | April 2014 | 384 pgs
Source: Library

After reading Simone St. James's The Broken Girls (my review will be posted nearer to its publication date, which is March 2018), I was totally wowed by her writing style and her storytelling and thus begins my search for her older books. This book is one of them.  

Set in England 1919, our protagonist Katharine "Kitty" Weekes flees her home to escape from her abusive father. With no money and no education, she lied her way into getting a job as a nurse at Portis House. A remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War, Kitty decided that this would be an ideal place for her hiding as well as getting paid. Her eldest brother had gone to war and there isn't any news of him so she is well on her own. 

Portis House was once a magnificent private estate owned by a Swiss family. There wasn't any news of the Gersbachs when the estate was took over by a Mr. Deighton who later refurbished it into a hospital. Portis House seems to be understaffed with nurses and orderlies and Kitty is accepted partly due to that reason and that the Matron who is in charge was away when her application came in. Kitty is initially glad to have found a place to settle in, but soon that relief has turned to nightmares as not only she has to face the challenging work of attending to the patients but also the Matron who seems to dislike her and give her the worst duties such as cleaning the men's lavatories and doing night shifts with little rest in between. But the worst is, Kitty feels something in Portis House. Aside from the eerie noises from the old plumbing and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms, she also hears footsteps at times but whenever she turns her head to look there isn't anyone. 

As the days go on, Kitty notices that the patients all seem to share the same nightmare yet no one dares to speak of it. What most intriguing is Patient Sixteen who is kept in a room by himself and only nurses who have clearance by the Matron could attend to him. Kitty will soon learned that he is once a war hero and that they will later form an alliance to uncover the truth about Portis House and what really happened to the Gersbachs. 

Silence for the Dead was a good read but not as good as The Broken Girls (TBG). Don't get me wrong, this book has good writing and an engaging storyline which has the Great War as the backdrop (not precise but still part of the scenario) but I think if I'd read this book before TBG, my opinion would've differ (I suppose that shows how much I enjoyed TBG). That said, this book has great characterisations and I enjoyed reading the interactions between Kitty and a vivid cast of supporting characters (I really felt for the soldiers. One would think they must be mentally ill to be admitted to Portis House but as you read more about them, you'll come to know that there is more than meets the eye.) It even has a slight romance element which lighten a bit of the dark atmospheric mood. A must-read for readers who love some supernatural theme in a mystery and do look out for The Broken Girls in March 2018. 

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8 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I’d expect an author to get better with each book so I’m not surprised this one isn’t as great as her latest coming out. But I’m glad you introduced me to her. I’ll have to check her out.

  2. Lark Says:

    I love this author and I can't wait to read The Broken Girls. I'm glad to know it's a good one. :)

  3. jenclair Says:

    My first Simone St. James was Broken Girls, and I loved it. I've only tried one of her earlier books and it wasn't nearly as good. Still, I'm adding this one to my list. :)

  4. Iliana Says:

    Whoever I see these books they make me think a bit of Maisie Dobbs. I really must read one of the books in this series soon.

  5. Melody Says:

    Jenny - I hope you'll enjoy her books as much as I did. :)

  6. Melody Says:

    Lark - She's now one of my favourite authors. :D

  7. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - The Broken Girls was my first Simone St. James book, too. I love her writing style and I'm glad to discover another author. :)

  8. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I hope you'll read her books soon. I think you might like it, Iliana. :)

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