#BookReview: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper (@ElodieITV) @MulhollandUK @1stMondayCrime

the binding song“Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…”

I was absolutely delighted to discover that Elodie Harper is one of the authors appearing at November’s ‘First Monday Crime’ event in London on Monday 6th November because it gave me the excuse (absolutely NO excuse needed) to read her debut, The Binding Song.  The Binding Song has been on my radar for some time now.  It was published by Mulholland Books in eBook and hardcover format earlier this year.  The paperback is due to be launched in February 2018 so keep an eye out for that.

As Autumn fades and Winter approaches it’s that time of year when I want to dive into a creepy, gothic thriller and fictitious HMP Halvergate in Norfolk provided the most perfect of settings to do that.  What a beautifully atmospheric and creepy story, one where I never really felt sure I knew exactly what was going on.  Even the sceptic in me believed in ghosts at one point during Harper’s haunting tale.  I felt apprehensive from the very first page and discovered a delightful ominous edge to Harper’s writing which had me hooked.

Dr Janet Palmer is the newly appointed forensic psychologist at the remote Norfolk-based Halvergate prison.  Halvergate is nothing like the prison she worked at before in London but the promotion seemed worth upping sticks for and moving away from her partner, Arun, and their comfortable life together.  Colleagues at the prison are distant and unfriendly, the prisoners are threatening and violent and Janet now feels very much alone.  Janet is made aware of an alarming increase in the number of suicides on D Wing – an occurrence which started under Dr Helkin’s care, and something she is keen to call a halt to.  But on starting work she discovers no one wishes to speak of her predecessor.  And Janet is approaching her caseload blind as all of Helkin’s notes seem to be missing.  She knows nothing about the deviant, sexual predators she faces on a daily basis and one particular prisoner both intrigues and repels her.  And what of the White Visitor, a pale black-eyed woman who is said to visit certain prisoners shortly before they take their own lives.  It’s down to Dr Palmer to uncover Halvergate’s secrets before more prisoners die and before the White Visitor comes to visit Janet…

As the story progresses you discover more about Janet and her tragic past.  The reader is given flashbacks into her teenage years and the heartache she and her family experienced.  At times I wondered why Janet would want to work in the prison service but as the story progressed and I was given more of an insight into her past, it all started to make sense.  Janet’s only friend in Norfolk is the prison chaplain, Steve.  Their relationship was interesting if a little stilted.  The friendship started to blossom only to be nipped in the bud by Janet’s frightening discoveries.  Knowing these two characters were friends but also so very alone created an eerie sense of isolation which sent shivers down my spine.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I’m looking forward to reading more from Elodie Harper in the future.  It’s a surprisingly creepy read with a breath-taking atmospheric feel at its core.  Ominous, tense and chock full of suspense.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of The Binding Song.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper was published in the UK by Mulholland Books on 29th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in February 2018) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Don’t forget to book your FREE place to see Elodie Harper alongside Stuart McBride, Simon Booker and Vaseem Khan with moderator Barry Forshaw on Monday 6th November at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket.  To find out more about the November panelists and to read the first chapter of their latest books, click HERE.

about the author3

elodie harper.jpgElodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. She is married with a young son

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview | #Giveaway: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (@spookypurcell) @BloomsburyRaven

the silent companions.jpg“Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company.

Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…”

You wait ages for a historical crime fiction novel to turn up then TWO arrive on the blog in the space of a couple of weeks!  Okay, so maybe this isn’t a crime novel in the strictest sense but my copy made it’s way into my hot little hands via my Theakstons Crime goodie bag back in July.  That ‘sort of’ makes it a crime novel!  Okay, okay maybe I’m talking rubbish.  What this book definitely is is a wonderfully creepy ghost story which I absolutely devoured.  And you can too!  That Theakstons Crime goodie bag I mentioned?  Well, it was actually TWO goodie bags – both with a copy of The Silent Companions so I shall be giving one of my proofs away later on.  Hold tight for that though, I have my review to share with you first.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started to read The Silent Companions.  I had put a couple of requests out on Twitter for some scary book recommendations and this book was mentioned.  More than once in fact; more than any other book which is something quite amazing when it hadn’t even been published at that point!  There is obviously a lot of love out there for The Silent Companions and, because of the hype, I really wanted to love it too.  And I did.

When reading a historical novel it sometimes takes me a little while to adjust to the author’s sentence structure.  After all, they spoke and acted quite differently to modern day life back in 1865.  But that wasn’t the case with Laura Purcell’s writing, I found it very easy to absorb and before long I was lost in this wonderfully dark and eerie tale. Purcell’s writing is expertly atmospheric and adds multiple creepy layers to her story.

Elsie Bainbridge is newly married, and newly widowed.  She is also expecting her late husband’s child so is sent away to the family estate to wait out her pregnancy.  The house, known as The Bridge, is nothing like what she expected.  The mansion is crumbling around her, the staff are sloppy and she longs to return to London and spend time with her younger brother.  Her husband’s cousin is her only companion, a dowdy woman named Sarah.  When Elsie hears a recurring noise late at night she is both curious and irritated.  Upon investigation, she discovers a locked door leading to the garret.  There is no key, the housekeeper is unable to provide any answers so Elsie decides to call someone in from the local town to open the mysterious door.  Before she is able to do that, however, she stumbles upon the door and it is curiously unlocked.  Elsie ventures into the room but what she doesn’t realise is that the door is locked to keep certain items in, rather than her out….

My imagination was running overtime picturing the vivid scenes created by Purcell.  I think this book is a prime candidate for being turned into a movie or a televised drama!  I did, unfortunately, see the twist in the story coming from fairly early on but that’s because I’m a sceptical, wannabe detective and others may not be as suspicious as me!

Would I recommend this book?  I would!  Don’t be put off if you’re not a fan of ghost or horror stories as this is well worth a read (and who knows, you may change your mind a little!).  Chilling, eerie and oh so good.  I’m looking forward to reading more from Laura Purcell in the future.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Silent Companions.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

#GIVEAWAY

I have one paperback proof copy of The Silent Companions to giveaway to a UK/IRE winner!  All you need to do is click the Rafflecopter link below and follow the instructions.  Due to postage costs I’m afraid this giveaway is open to UK/IRE residents only.  The winner will receive a proof copy of The Silent Companions, there is no cash alternative on offer.  The competition will be open until midnight (BST) on 11th October 2017.  The winner will be required to provide their postal address so I may send their prize.  Their address will not be passed onto any third parties.  Give the link a click and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell was published in the UK by Bloomsbury Raven on 5th October 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats |

about the author3

laura purcell.jpg

Author image and bio (c) http://laurapurcell.com/

Laura Purcell writes biographical fiction about the Georgian Queens and ‘spooky’ Victorian novels. She lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Laura is represented by Juliet Mushens at Caskie Mushens Literary Agency.

THE SILENT COMPANIONS will be published by Bloomsbury in October 2017 (US Penguin, March 2018).

QUEEN OF BEDLAM (2014) and MISTRESS OF THE COURT (2015) were published by Myrmidon and are available from all book retailers.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |