The Silence of Ghosts: A Novel, by Jonathan Aycliffe, (Night Shade Books), 192 pages, release date 3 January, 2015
Dominic Lancaster, son of a wealthy British importer of Port, has returned from World War I minus half a leg—and with a conviction of his own worthlessness: “The loss of my leg has diminished me so completely, I scarcely think of myself as a man now, a proper man, well formed, active, not the partial thing I have become.” His parents seem to agree with him and send him off to convalesce in a country manor that hasn’t been used by the family in years. His young sister, Olivia, who lost her hearing as a result of a childhood illness is sent with him. A local nurse, Rose, is charged with supervising Dominic’s recovery.
The reader can predict much of what will come: everyone in the local village warns them against settling in Hallinhag House; strange children appear in the woods; strange noises come from the second floor, which has such an unnerving atmosphere that Dominic and Olivia limit themselves to the ground floor; Olivia begins to hear voices; ultimately a vicar and a priest become involved; meanwhile Dominic and Rose fall in love, a situation of which Dominic’s parents do not approve.
Yes, the reader can predict much of the storyline from the get-go, but that doesn’t mean The Silence of Ghosts isn’t an enjoyable read. Aycliffe creates a background of menace that’s hard to shake off. I had to go to bed before finishing this book, and slept with the lights on and the stereo playing until I could get up in the morning and finish it. When the story of Hallinhag House is fleshed out, it contains real surprises.
When you want a fun, fast, chill-inducing book, The Silence of Ghosts will make a great choice.