Published by Troubador Publishing Ltd on November 28th 2015
Genres: Fiction, General
eARC provided by Troubador Publishing Ltd
Vienna, 1938: Something’s amiss at the home of young Annabel Albrecht and it’s got nothing to do with the Nazis. First, her favourite maid Eva disappears, then her friend Oskar. What’s worse, her mother is taken away, leaving Annabel to fend for herself. London 2004: Max receives a letter from his dying and estranged mother, Annabel, who requests his help. Following their last argument he has no desire to contact her. But his curiosity is piqued by the black and white photograph she had enclosed: a disturbing image of his mother and forgotten childhood friend, Oskar Edelstein, taken in Vienna, 1938. Stranger still are the words, ‘you knew’, scrawled on its reverse. The photograph and the message, are, his mother writes, part of the reason for her distance towards him. She wants him to find Oskar... The photograph haunts him following his mother’s death – and there’s something about her old house in Vienna that’s not quite right. As much as Max wants to stay away, he can’t, as he uncovers his mother’s long-buried past and the secrets preserved by Annabel’s missing friends. But as Max is to discover, some children can never be completely silenced. Is he haunted by ghosts or by guilt, and will he ever escape? The Silent Children is a gripping tale of tragedy and revenge, a modern-day ghost story that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
In The Silent Children the main character, Max, is discovering his recently deceased mother’s past. His mother, Annabel, leaves him a photo of her as a child. In the picture she is with another young boy and on the back she has written “you knew”. This story goes back and forth in timelines from Annabel’s youth in Vienna(1930s), to Max in London and Vienna in present day. Annabel also leaves Max her Viennese home, which is hiding a terrible secret. Max seeks out the boy in the picture to try to find out what his mother was trying to tell him. What he uncovers is a family legacy that can’t stay buried any longer.
The good: There was a real mystery within this book. I was quite disturbed by the details of Annabel’s youth. She is growing up in war torn Vienna and living a nightmare at home. There just wasn’t much fun about her childhood. The boy in the picture becomes an obsession for Max as he comes to terms with her death and who she really was. The mystery of how he fit in really kept me flipping pages.
The Viennese estate that his mother left him was really a great facet to this story. Max immediately makes plans to refinish the house which causes it’s long term inhabitants to become upset. I enjoyed the hints of paranormal sprinkled throughout the story. There isn’t an all out answer for things right away and that kept me wondering if it was a true haunt or an overactive imagination.
The bad: I found the beginning of this book strange. I don’t know what it would be like to get that kind of letter from my mother. I know in some cases children become estranged from their parents. It was not clear why Max wasn’t close with his mother until much later. There were long winded chapters and jumps in the timeline that I found a bit disappointing. I just didn’t like that we weren’t able to follow the story through, or more like Max couldn’t stay and figure out the mystery. I could have done without him going home to London. I don’t think it added much to the story.
Max was a hard character to get used to for me. I honestly forgot I was dealing with a grown man and started thinking of him as a woman. His thoughts and worries seemed more like a woman’s or a young man, to me anyways. Also, there is robbery scene that really put me off. Max didn’t react how I expect any man to, so that was really off-putting. He is the worst thing about this story.
Despite his character inconsistencies, I was able to enjoy this book for the most part. I liked how this author blended historical fiction with a paranormal ghost story. This story took a few twists that kept me on my toes. This story had a creepy gothic feel to it. I just wish the main character was more consistent.