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Silence for the Dead

Written by: Simone St. James
Narrated by: Mary Jane Wells
Length: 10 hrs and 33 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself slowly as a long, low shadow.…

In 1919 Kitty Weekes - pretty, resourceful, and on the run - falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House - its plaster is crumbling; its plumbing makes eerie noises; and strange, cold breaths of air waft through the empty rooms. It's known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman…or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

©2014 Simone St. James (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kim Widhalm
  • 2014-11-06

Totally worth the credit, adore the whole thing

What made the experience of listening to Silence for the Dead the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed that the narrator used accents appropriate the the characters.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tie between Kitty and Jack (likely Jack- he's a cheeky charmer)

What does Mary Jane Wells bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She brings to life the different natures and personalities of the characters that I don't know would have been as easy to notice in print.

Any additional comments?

I bought this book because it was tagged as a classic Gothic horror. I'm going to be re-listening because it IS a classic Gothic horror that also has a well handled romance, real history ties to enhance the horror, and enjoyable characters.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hope
  • 2015-02-09

excellent neoclassic gothic horror

Where does Silence for the Dead rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have been given set questions by the audible software which I find offensive and I will ignore. Also, I should warn you that I personally really appreciate what so many refer to as 'spoilers' in book reviews. If I don't know someone, I find it totally useless to be told 'I loved it, you should read it' as a review. I want to have a sense of what is in the book and how it ends. If I'm in a bookstore I will look through the book to see if children are killed off (my personal shiboleth) and to see if it has a decent ending. I don't want to waste my time on books that become duds in the last 50 pages, and I think most blurbs are usually pretty useless.

That said, I just finished listening to Silence for the Dead, and it was exactly the book I was ready for at this point. (I've been wishing that Mary Stewart's gothics would be made into audiobooks.) It is not great literature, but it is a really well written thriller with great characters and real ghosts plus a nice romance. It takes place right after WWI and deals with ex-soldiers in England who are institutionalized with PTSD. The heroine scams her way into a nursing job at the isolated mansion which has been turned into a hospital. The heroine herself has been traumatized in her life, and has had to become quite tough to survive. I really appreciate a heroine who is not upper class, not stupid and not vaporish. The hero is also working class and very real, not the fake so-called alpha that we are so often saddled with these days. The author does a very good job of building the tension, not too fast, not too slow, while setting the scene of the life of the staff and patients in the asylum. There are plenty of plot twists and while anyone who has read this genre will be able to make some pretty good guesses from the clues that are given out along the way, I still found it to be intriguing enough that I read to the end with great satisfaction.

Also, I have to say very good things about the reader, Mary Jane Wells. She did an excellent job with this book, distinguishing different characters well and pacing the book at the right tempo. I really appreciate a reader who doesn't overdramatize a book, but let's the author's voice come through. Her male voices could use work, but that is true of almost every female reader I've heard. (And vice versa for male readers...) Her English dialects sounded very good to me, an American with a fair amount of exposure to the UK and its regional speech patterns. I looked to see what else she has recorded so far, and there are not many books, and I didn't see another one I'm interested in, but she should definitely be considered a potential top-tier reader.

And after all that, I don't think I did put in any spoilers. And by the way, no explicit sex, if you don't count a few kisses. Just FYI.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Yara N.
  • 2019-08-06

Fast paced and entertaining!

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James is the first book I’ve read by this author and It’s the first paranormal mystery I’ve ever read. I was pleasantly surprised by the book; the characters were believable, and the story was engrossing as any good mystery should be.

The story follows Kitty Weeks, a young woman from London who finds herself down on her luck after WWI and pretends to be a nurse in order to get a job at a remote hospital. The hospital, Portis House, who specializes in the treatment of mentally disturbed soldiers. She soon discovers, however, that there’s a reason why Portis House can’t keep its nursing staff and why they’d keep on a nurse who clearly does knows nothing about nursing.

Kitty has no idea at first about the dark and dangerous place she’s entered but having had a rough upbringing she’s learned how to fight and survive. She will need these skills as she tries to figure out what exactly is happening in the house and what is happening to the patients. As she looks to uncover the secrets of Portis House, she finds herself allied with one of the patients, Jack Yates. The two have an instant connection with each other which brings them closer and closer together as they unravel the mystery.

I liked Kitty’s integrations with Jack and the other characters, you come to care for them and their safety as the danger grows. The mystery itself while engaging wasn’t too hard to work out, I suspected what had happened about halfway through the story, though, I didn’t figure out the full extent of it until it was revealed near the end. However, that did not stop me from enjoying the mystery and wanting to see the culmination of all the characters arcs.

Overall, I gave it 5 stars and I’m excited to read another book by the author.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Skipper
  • 2014-07-25

Engrossing gothic

Fabulous narration by Mary Jane Wells. In 1919 England, at a lonely mansion where moors meet sea, 21 "mad" soldiers convalesce from WWI, suffering PTSD. But ghosts that reek of rot and whisper sweet suicide in the patients' ears really inhibit their recovery.

To this bleak place comes Kitty Weeks, age 20-ish, masquerading as a nurse, fleeing her own murderous father. She's resilient and courageous, but not foolish. And she recognizes the mysterious "patient 16" immediately. Soon enough, they join forces.

Engrossing, this dark gothic suspense novel. There's even a lovely bit of romance. Heartwarming in a few scenes, as the "madmen" bond against evil and remember who they are.

Quibble: The characterization of the hospital matron shifted midstream. What??

Some reviewers felt the plot faltered in the second half. Not so for me. Maybe Wells' narration made the difference. Plus, in the second half we got some heartwarming soldierly scenes and some tender love scenes.

4.5 stars!

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • misskris
  • 2020-04-12

Great story, but foul language unwelcome

I liked this story. It was fun to listen to, but I found the foul language in it unnecessary and unwanted. It didn't add to the story and makes me hesitant to listen to anything else by this author. Narration was completely outstanding! Very well done!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David M. Morris
  • 2019-11-24

Excellent story! Different....in a good way!!

**** NO Spoilers. I absolutely love"Ghost Stories"...haunting, scary and dark! However, this audiobook is nothing like any other books out there in this genre.(that I have read) There was minimal gore and very limited swear words. This story is truly unique. Simone St. James is now on my top 10 list of favorite authors! Of course, as we all know, the narrator can make or break an audiobook story. With Mary Jane Wells, you get great characters that are easy to follow due to her amazing skills as a reader

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Isobel
  • 2016-05-10

Excellent Narration, Mystery, Romance

If you could sum up Silence for the Dead in three words, what would they be?

Creepy, Atmospheric, Ghost..ly?

What was one of the most memorable moments of Silence for the Dead?

Nothing prominent stands out. But excellent story all around

Which character – as performed by Mary Jane Wells – was your favorite?

I'd have to say Jack.

Mary Jane Wells is one of my favourite narrators. If you enjoy Kate Reading (and even if you don't) you'll really like Mary Jane Wells.
she doesn't make the boys sound ridiculous and knows when to make proper pauses. I've heard some complaints about her being ''whispery'' but maybe I just like the quieter tones better. Specially when it comes to ghost stories.

If you could take any character from Silence for the Dead out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Jack. Duh.

Any additional comments?

I like ghost stories and historical romances so this is a good combination of both. It's not a bodice ripper but I find lately that most books tend to be very cookie cutter when it comes to romances so I wanted something with more mystery in it.
I really liked The Thirteenth Tale, now while the story isn't as strong as the thirteeth, it's still very enjoyable and creates an atmosphere of isolation. The heroine is strong willed and sticks to her guns, even if it's not always the right thing to do. She has flaws, but isn't meek or embarrassed about them. It makes her more real, sometimes when I read romances and mysteries the heroine is such a ninny that I just roll my eyes and usually cannot finish the book.

If you like historical romances but are looking for a change. This book is for you. The author is sophisticated and takes you to a different time. I found it hard to put this book down.

Is it the most interesting book I've read? No. But the characters and the setting of the house really make a good read.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Samara Weaver
  • 2015-12-07

Great Gohst Story!

Great ghost story! Wonderful descriptive writing and beautifully read! I suggest it to any one looking for a ghost story entwined with a good mystery!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Autodidact
  • 2017-09-06

fun gothic horror set in 1919 Great Britain

like this author for her supernatural novels set in the deeply disturbed post WWI era. History with light entertainment. well written

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary & Jay
  • 2020-04-30

Enjoyed every minute!

Mary Jane Wells made this story come alive with the subtleties of her speech. We hear every nuance in mood, with smirks and chuckles built right into that amazing voice.

This isn't the scariest story I've encountered, nor does it have us listeners competing to say how early we guessed a reveal. But it is a very human story, with an interesting plot, and for me. one of the best listens: I felt like I was right there with a bunch of people. some of whom were brave, some principled, some with virtues that are revealed slowly, and some unredeemed, just living life.

I enjoyed this book very much, and although I'll miss Nurse Weekes and Company, I'm off to find another Simone St. James!