THE COMPANION by KATIE ALENDER
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
As I finished The Companion by Katie Alender, I kept thinking this would have been a good book to review for the Halloween season. Alas, we’re not in October anymore, but I decided I wanted to review this book anyway. It’s a scary book! A creeping mystery set in a sprawling, old house. What’s not to like?
The Companion follows Margot, newly orphaned, as she moves into the Suttons’ old-money household, the Copeland Estate. Laura Sutton (her maiden name is Copeland, hence the house’s name) has decided to take a Margot in, plucking her from a state institution to be Laura’s daughter’s “companion.” Agatha, the daughter, is catatonically “ill.” She can’t speak and does nothing but stare out the window all day. Laura insists her daughter is unwell and that Margot needs to be her constant companion. Margot agrees, and her dream of having a home again quickly turns into a nightmare.
Despite being a lover of horror, I don’t read many horror novels. I guess I don’t find them scary enough! I didn’t find The Companion very scary either, but I appreciated the creepy atmosphere and the slow build-up of the mystery. Margot is a fun character to read from. She has a sense of humor and a very real way of processing her grief–by cracking jokes. At first, Margot is suspicious of Agatha and I was going to be very displeased if this book turned into an evil stepsister situation. Thankfully, it didn’t, and I was rooting for Margot and Agatha’s friendship the whole time. There’s also Barrett, Laura’s son and Agatha’s brother. The romance between him and Margot was fine, if not a little unneeded.
The real star of the show here was Laura, the book’s antagonist. Laura comes off as a very sweet and doting mother at first. She’s always worried about Agatha, and Margot by proxy. Her subtle turn from doting mother to unhinged psychopath was a fun one to read, though I found myself wanting more of her backstory and motivations. The Companion could have been at least 50 pages longer and I wouldn’t have been mad about it. There’s a lot of backstory here that could have been built upon–the legacy of the Copelands for example, but these details were largely glossed over, which was unfortunate.
All in all, I liked The Companion. I especially love the cover. I just wish things were fleshed out a little bit more, but if you like creepy mysteries that aren’t too creepy, you can pick up our copy at the Argenta Library today!