This novel actually evokes the grand tradition of the gothic novel rather nicely and it is suitably disturbing. Whilst it is clear from the outset that something not quite natural is going on and that we, the reader, are aware of just what that is it still manages to raise the prerequisite chill. I'm not sure that Ghost Story is the right description for this one, it reeks more of possession to me but whatever it is it is gloriously creepy.
Even better, not everybody who is who they first appear to be and there are dark depths to both Sarah and Elsie that match very well with The Bridge and it's former inhabitants. The house itself has everything you need from a country pile - semi-derelict village whose villagers give it a wide berth; rather peculiar staff and a locked room that seems to have a rat infestation judging by the noises heard coming from it. The one thing I did wonder about was why Ms Purcell seems to have a thing about incarcerated women - in both The Silent Companions and The Corset the main narrator is in, respectively, a mental asylum or a prison.
The diary entries of the first Mrs Bainbridge and the story of their social climbing sets the scene for what follows rather nicely. The fact the diary entries are interspersed with Elsie's recollections of what is happening in The Bridge make it quite compelling reading. You have the hints of Witchcraft, a rather strange Old Curiosity Shop in the town and a very disturbed (and disturbing) young child. Above all you have The Silent Companions themselves, just the thought of these life size wooden cutouts painted to resemble people gives me shudders. When you realise that they are apparently taking on the appearance of those who lived in the house it just gets worse.
I really enjoyed this book and it gave me goosebumps in the most delicious way.