Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ghosts and Trauma in Silence of the Dead by Simone St. James

Silence for the Dead is a ghost story mixed with a story of veterans suffering from PTSD at the end of World War I. Simone St. James' writing emphasizes the characters and the plot rather than the language, a great style for a good storyteller.

The novel is set in England in an era that was not easy for the average person. The soldiers that come back from the war with issues are hidden away. And that luxury is expensive, so it is only available to the men from wealthy families. Instead of compassion, society pushes shame on these warriors. But the military veterans are not the only ones who suffer from a hard culture. Kitty Weekes has nowhere to turn when facing an abusive situation. To survive she has to use her wits and her ability to lie.

The strong characters are the best part of this book. Kitty is impulsive, but caring, a wonderful center for the story. The other nurses have their quirks, but are also interesting and often caring people. Jack Yates, the lead male character, is a bit cliché at times, but I like the way their romance progresses. Some of the patients are wounded physically, but all are dealing with trauma as well as a situation that is unique to the hospital set up in Portis House, an isolated, old mansion that had once been luxurious but is now falling apart.

We live in a time of ongoing wars which makes post-traumatic stress disorder a current and important issue. The best aspect to this novel is how Simone St. James brought this out while telling an interesting story.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions

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