When it comes to the paranormal, there are two things I cannot abide: zombies and ghosts. When I read the synopsis of Silence for the Dead, I got the impression ghosts would be a part of the book. However, other plot elements intrigued me so I requested it for review, ghosts and all.
Kitty Weekes is a woman on the run. She fled her abusive father four years before the book begins. When we first meet her, she is arriving at Portis House where she has been employed as a nurse. There’s only one problem with this – Kitty has not had a day of nursing experience in her life. Still, she considers herself quite resourceful, and how hard can it really be to care for a bunch of former soldiers?
Once inside Portis House, Kitty discovers more than she bargained for. First off, the head nurse is aware of the lies Kitty told to obtain the position. She makes it clear that desperate women are the only women who stay at Portis House. Wondering about this, Kitty knows she needs the job and decides to stay anyway.
As she gets to know the patients and her fellow nurses, Kitty comes to understand that there is something sinister at work in what should be a safe haven for the men who have come back shell-shocked from the Great War. They are tormented by nightmares, the doctors don’t offer any sort of treatment, the bathroom is constantly flooded with moldy water, and there’s a mysterious patient very few people are allowed to see.
I enjoyed Mary Jane Wells’ narration. Her British accent set the scene perfectly and I was quite pleased with her depiction of the characters as well. Even characters of the same gender were easy to tell apart. Some narrators find this a difficult task to accomplish, but Ms. Wells seemed to have no problem coming up with different pitches and accents.
I think her portrayal of many of the soldiers is especially noteworthy. She does a fantastic job capturing the torment they feel. One man speaks with a stutter. A soldier who suffers from memory loss always sounds vague and disconcerted. Each of these men is struggling with something terrible, and Ms. Wells allows the listener to practically look inside their tortured minds.
Despite the historical setting, the main character being on the run, and the look Ms. St. James gave me into the lives of traumatized soldiers, I found Silence for the Dead difficult to like. The ghosts were a big part of that, but despite the fact that this is categorized as Historical Fiction, I still found myself needing the romance to progress to keep my interest. This lack of romantic development didn’t help matters.
Kitty meets war hero Jack Yates, and is immediately drawn to him. He agrees to help her find out what’s going on in the hospital. From this blooms a romance, but not a believable one. I felt like they fell in love with no true knowledge of each other. They were thrown together and love happened. Personally, I like to see the hero and heroine develop feelings for one another. I want to know why they’re in love, and Silence for the Dead did not deliver that kind of love story.
If you like gothic romances, I’m guessing you’ll enjoy this book. The narration is an added bonus. Sadly, the book itself just didn’t work for me.
Book Content: C-
Steam Factor: You can play it out loud
Violence: Fighting and Domestic Violence
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Silence for the Dead was provided to AudioGals for review by Blackstone Audio.