I am continuing my readings of Simone St. James backlist and I’m quite enjoying these historical ghost stories. In Silence for the Dead, it’s 1919, and Kitty Weeks has falsified her papers to get a remote nursing job at Portis House. The tale that unfolds is atmospheric and suspenseful, with a side of romance and plenty of supernatural elements.
by Simone St. James
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
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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?
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.
From the fog to the closed off water-damaged sections of the home and its remote location, the Portis House is the perfect setting for this tale. Kitty is running from something, something we learn about as the story unfolds.
Portis House is a gloomy place with cold drafts, odd smells, plumbing issues and strange noises. The veterans of the Great War are here for treatment from shell shock, but something or perhaps someone is giving them nightmares and aggravating their fragile states.
Kitty is found out almost immediately by the head nurse, but times are hard and she needs an able body. Since she didn’t hire Kitty and the doctor did, she’ll use her. The nurses sleep in the former nursery and work round the clock. They rotate the night shift. Kitty is curious about the previous owners and the things she sees and hears. What happened to them? Why is this beautiful estate crumbling?
Simone writes delightfully ominous ghost stories and Silence For the Dead delivers. The suspense builds as Kitty befriends the nurses, patients and the mysterious patient in room 13. The characters are fleshed out, and unique. Each offered something to enhance the tale from their backstories to their nightmares. We get a little a romance which felt genuine and also learn of Kitty’s past, and the house’s history.
Portis House’s history and the current situation will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end as the excitement and danger build. The tale is well researched and felt historically accurate for the period. The treatment of the men and the shame that came from were heartbreaking. It was well told and enhanced the story.
From supernatural elements to the atmospheric setting, you’ll want to turn on a light and curl up with Silene for the Dead with a nice hot toddy.
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