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.
©2014 Simone St. James (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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.
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.
I enjoyed that the narrator used accents appropriate the the characters.
Tie between Kitty and Jack (likely Jack- he's a cheeky charmer)
She brings to life the different natures and personalities of the characters that I don't know would have been as easy to notice in print.
I bought this book because it was tagged as a classic Gothic horror. I'm going to be re-listening because it IS a classic Gothic horror that also has a well handled romance, real history ties to enhance the horror, and enjoyable characters.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
Fabulous narration by Mary Jane Wells. In 1919 England, at a lonely mansion where moors meet sea, 21 "mad" soldiers convalesce from WWI, suffering PTSD. But ghosts that reek of rot and whisper sweet suicide in the patients' ears really inhibit their recovery.
To this bleak place comes Kitty Weeks, age 20-ish, masquerading as a nurse, fleeing her own murderous father. She's resilient and courageous, but not foolish. And she recognizes the mysterious "patient 16" immediately. Soon enough, they join forces.
Engrossing, this dark gothic suspense novel. There's even a lovely bit of romance. Heartwarming in a few scenes, as the "madmen" bond against evil and remember who they are.
Quibble: The characterization of the hospital matron shifted midstream. What??
Some reviewers felt the plot faltered in the second half. Not so for me. Maybe Wells' narration made the difference. Plus, in the second half we got some heartwarming soldierly scenes and some tender love scenes.
Storyline interested me from the start. The twists and turns kept my interest but the narration really made the characters easy to track. Will look for other books by this author AND those narrated by Mary Jane Wells.
Great ghost story! Wonderful descriptive writing and beautifully read! I suggest it to any one looking for a ghost story entwined with a good mystery!
Simone St. James has done it again! This book has everything: great story, interesting characters and writing that truly enables one to see it all. Mary Jane Wells did a wonderful job narrating.
Definitely worth the purchase price and I highly recommend to anyone looking for a great historical mystery/romance.
Well written and excellently narrated this became a book I simply couldn't walk away from. I found myself wanting to delve deeper.
Though the story was relatively predictable in certain aspects that was secondary to a lively cast of characters who drew my attention almost immediately.
Definitely worth the listen.
This is one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard. The story is excellent and the narrator is a natural. I have read all of Simone St. James's books and I wish all of her audio books were performed by Mary Jane Wells.
Terrific story about a young woman in hiding posing as a nurse in a facility treated veterans suffering from shell shock. Loved the characters, Loved the mystery, couldn't wait to get back to this story. While trauma is completely misunderstood in these times, the portrayal is realistic and moving.
It captured my interest from the beginning. I really enjoyed it. The narrator was great too. I am going to see if there are more books from this author.
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