The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (2017)
After her husband's death, Elsie is sent to his family's country estate to await the birth of her child. The sojourn, however, is anything but calming as strange things start happening around the house, including the appearance of several life-like wooden figures.
If you're looking for a spooky read without too much gore, this is the book for you. An estate that everyone in the local village stays away from, possessed portraits - this story had such a strong eerie, gothic feel to it without being cheesy. The book is told through three storylines: Elsie's time at The Bridge, the estate, in 1865; Elsie's time at an insane asylum (and because she's being accused of murder, you know something went down at The Bridge); and through the diary of an ancestor, which shed some light on the house's current creepy issues.
I loved Elsie; she's very strong and pragmatic, definitely ahead of her time. She doesn't want to believe something weird is going on at The Bridge, that there must be some explanation. If it were me, and sinister wooden paintings were appearing and moving around my house, I'd be out of there in a second. I though the origin portion of the story was interesting, but it was also a little outlandish and didn't necessarily fit with the feel of the rest of the book. 4 stars
The Widow's House by Carol Goodman (2017)
Jess and Clare move to a small town in the Hudson Valley to work on their marriage and their writing, but the house at which they become caretakers has a dark past, and it may be coming to get them.
Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment for me. It wasn't scary, spooky, or eerie at all. It felt cheesy, and the author's attempts to create tension all fell flat. It seemed like she took every cliché and threw it all into one book. Haunted house? Check. Mental asylum? Check. Weird puppets? Check. Potential psychic abilities? Check. Family secrets? Check.
The whole backstory to the house's past seemed simple (a woman and her newborn freeze to death one night), but the author made it so convoluted and repetitive. Poor Clare was just a mess - she had a crappy childhood; she ended up in an institution for a little while; her husband was one of the most selfish and manipulative characters I've come across. It seemed like everything bad that could happen to her, did. There was a big twist in this book that actually could have been really cool, but like everything else, it was so overdone and over-the-top that I couldn't help but roll my eyes. 2 stars