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The Silence
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2013
This is the story of Stilter House in the small Derbyshire village of Caudle. Recently widowed Nell and her daughter Beth go to stay in the house whilst Nell catalogues the contents. This was a home much visited by Beth's father in his childhood and Nell is hoping that Beth will find some connection with him there. Nell and Beth do make connections with the past, just not quite as they had intended.
I took a while to get into this book but once I did, I was hooked. All the present day events take place over the course of a few days so there is a lot going on. Much of the book harks back to two separate time periods in Stilter House's history . This is done through the use of old documents, diaries, newspaper reports and letters. I particularly enjoyed this method of giving us the information - a small piece of information in a nineteeth century letter to a builder, a passing comment in a diary in the attic coupled with an old newspaper report created a wonderful jigsaw to puzzle out.
This is a ghost story & there are several ghosts to choose from. The descriptions of two of the ghosts and the events around them created a wonderful atmosphere. Who could fail to feel hairs rise at a description of gouge marks from someone's hands as they tried to get out? Sarah Rayne is a master of suspense and this is definitely one of her best.
The modern day characters of Nell, Beth and Nell's boyfriend, Michael aren't particularly special. They are really there to be characters to do discovery work for the reader. The really well constructed characters are those from the past, especially Jack & Samuel Burlap, Esmond and his father. These characters all drew conclusions from events and made decisions which had far ranging consequences.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a murderer in this book but it certainly wasn't who I was expecting it to be! The pieces all fitted together well and clues were there but I just hadn't seen it coming.
This is an excellent book which I enjoyed thoroughly. Don't give up on the first few slightly slow chapters but read on for an excellent mystery book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I've read a few of the author's books previously, and they are always a good read. So I looked forward to this latest offering.

Nell West is asked to value the contents of a home after the elderly owner dies. Relatives of her late husband, she is of course keen to be involved, and goes down there for a few days with her daughter Beth. But when she hears piano playing on a piano that is locked, and she and Beth are frightened by a woman on the property at night, the papers that she has found telling something of the history of the property's previous owners begin to take on a more sinister turn.

This is a great ghost story; some of the language used in the old letters and correspondence seemed, to me to be a bit incorrect for the period, but that's a small quibble against a narrative that races along with plenty of intriguing twists and turns. Great stuff; I look forward to more from this author. As this is the third in the series featuring Nell West, I need to go back and read the first and second ones now.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2013
I read this on the ferry going to and from France recently, and was completely shut into this bleak world of Stilter House and its previous occupants and connections. I'm not giving too much away by saying that it's full of surprises and shocks, but what achieves this is the superb structure. Every page revealed a new development towards the chilling climax involving not only Nell.
Brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2013
...I had two big problems. Firstly, Nell has had several encounters with ghosts: she has seen, heard and been physically attacked by the spirits of dead people yet she STILL refuses to accept that such things exist! Is she stubborn, stupid or what? Secondly, the denouement. I do not want to spoil the ending for those who have not yet read the book so I will not say too much, but it was rather OTT. And, okay, I am a bit fussy but really - crochet? Evidently Ms Rayne does not know what crochet is or what a crochet hook looks like. Maybe she meant crewel-work or something, I do not know, but really SOMEONE should have checked that!
Those gripes aside, it is a ripping yarn and I enjoyed reading it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2013
Chilling, compelling, menacing and macabre, The Silence is the third in Sarah Rayne's spine-tingling supernatural suspense series featuring antiques dealer Nell West and Oxford don Michael Flint.

Rayne's vivid writing captivated me from the first page. I was hooked with these words:'I don't think we need to worry over what Charlotte said about the house. She was always a bit eccentric and given to imagining she saw things. I always thought she simply needed stronger reading glasses.'

The subtle touch of humour simply underlines the fact that the reader needs to worry - and the reasons emerge via a gripping narrative packed with secrets and edge-of-seat suspense. In no time at all, ghostly music - and the stirrings of century-old sins - echo down the years and through the rooms of the spookily atmospheric Stilter House.

The stories behind the hauntings are skilfully told through a series of letters, deeds, statements and court reports. The author gives even these minor off-page characters distinctive `voices' and I love how she's developing the relationship between the main players, Nell and Michael.

Like a spider's web, its intelligently-paced plot is both extraordinarily intricate and beautifully constructed. It trapped this reader to the final line. For me, The Silence is a book to shout about.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2013
Although Stilter House is set in a remote part of Derbyshire, it is the house where antiques dealer Nell West's dead husband spent much of his childhood, so she is more than happy to visit (with her young daughter Beth) to value the contents.

The house stands on the ground which a much older property - in which Isobel Acton committed murder; - once stood, but Nell is unaware that the house is said to be haunted.

When Michael Flint, Nell's lover, receives a letter telling him that Nell and Beth shouldn't go to Stilter House `because `Esmond is still there' Michael is alarmed. Unable to contact Nell, or the writer of the letter, to obtain more information, Michael decides to leave Oxford and follow Nell to Derbyshire to warn her.

But already Nell has experienced some very odd incidents and is worried about Beth, who has made a friend, a young boy who plays the piano.

Eerie, scary, macabre, this is Sarah Rayne at her best. Slowly the events of the past unravel, and in horrifying detail we learn the secrets of Stilter House. This is the third in this haunting series and is as unputdownable as the earlier two.
-------
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books in the series are: Property of a Lady, The Sin Eater.
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on 13 September 2014
Started off in promising fashion and had some good creepy moments but I found the relationship between the two main characters rather saccharin and the daughter unlike any child I have experienced. Sometimes she appeared fairly mature and then the next minute like a five year old. The elderly lady who appeared in last part of book also,did not seem realistic to me and after finishing book thought I would not bother with any further books in the series.
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on 14 January 2015
There's a good story here ....but unfortunately it's not the main one. The secondary story, revealed through various documents, is gripping, but the contemporary story, involving two rather boring people, is something to skim through.

I gather it's not the first book about these two, either. I enjoyed all of Sarah Rayne's early stories ... I read them more than once... but I'm not happy with this series, I'm afraid.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2013
Sarah Rayne she has done it again this story keeps you gripped and on the edge , well put together and the plot cleverly thought out with surprises and gasps .
Some sadness and a lot of spookiness.
Sarah Rayne is my Author of the year I have enjoyed all her books to date , she never dissapoints.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
This is the third book in the Nell West/Michael Flint ghost series, even though Nell has a hard time believing in ghosts, and I loved it just as much as the other two. Although this is classed as horror, it's not in a gory sense. More in a scared out of your wits sense at things that go bump in the night, and in this case play eerie music that haunts the house and anyone who inhabits it. I had to read something else before I went to bed, something not so scary.

I have a soft spot for old-fashioned ghost stories, which I think this is. At first we don't know anything about the ghosts (for there are more than one) but gradually over the course of the book we find out about Stilter House's past and its past residents. What I loved and what is lacking in a lot of books in the genre, is that we find out things at the same time as the character's do. The reader is more involved that way I think than if they knew things beforehand that the characters didn't.

The writing is brilliant, it draws you in from the very first page and doesn't let up until the last page is turned. I devoured the book in two days, I needed to know what happened and the secrets just kept on coming. While Nell and Michael find out things from letters and deeds, it might have seemed a bit contrived, but here it worked and all the loose ends were tied up very satisfactorily.

Like with nearly all of Ms. Rayne's books, old buildings play a significant part and Stilter House almost becomes a character in its own right, the setting is so vividly drawn. You can almost imagine seeing the house yourself, or its spectral inhabitants.

An excellent read for those looking for an old-fashioned ghost story with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing right to the end.
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