I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I've now read 4 of the 5 books St. James has written and this one is by far the biggest departure from the previous three. Silence for the Dead comes much closer to horror than the creepy and mildly hair-raising ghost stories of the others, with a dark, gloomy, desolate setting and mouldering atmosphere.
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 breaths of cold 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?
MT went to a soccer match tonight and I had the whole evening to sit down in peace and lose myself in this book... probably not really a good thing as it turned out.
I'd put this one strongly in the romantic suspense category, although there's no romance to speak of in the first 80% of the book; it's a long, slow burn. Even the ghosts take their time showing up as the story focuses on the patients, their varying degrees of madness and Kitty's scramble to play her role. Once the ghosts made their appearance though, the pace picked up and gathered momentum until the tension was almost excruciating, and my heart was pounding...
...and the french doors in my library rattled like someone was yanking on the doorknob. My cat, who'd been lounging on my lap, bolted off into the library as I damn near had a heart-attack. I desperately wanted it to be the wind, but it's a still night, and when the doors started rattling again, it took everything I had to get up and go look out the glass doors without letting my imagination put Michael Myers on the other side of them.
Turns out it was a little ring-tailed possum, trying to get in. Don't ask me why, I've never seen one come close to the house before, but he sat out there, staring at me and inspecting the frame of the doors, until Easter-cat put her nose to his against the glass. Then he threw himself at the glass, giving me my second heart-attack of the evening and trotted off into the night.
So, all said, it was a very good read, although probably a tad more sinister than I should be reading when I'm home alone at night. Now I'm off to text MT to be on the lookout for the possible attack possum when he comes home, and to find something light to read next, perhaps something by Dr. Seuss...