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The Silent Boy


The Silent Boy

The year is 1792, and Paris, France is teeming with unrest and on the brink of a full-blown revolution. Amidst the expected horrors that come along with any form of battle is a young British boy. What he has witnessed is horrific enough to have turned him mute and made him the target of some dangerous people.

Ten-year-old Charles may or may not be the son of London businessman Edward Savill. When Edward learns of the death of his estranged wife, Augusta, it is requested that he come and retrieve Charles, who has been shipped from Paris to a house in England called Charnwood Court. Edward finds out that this country home is being leased by a group of émigré refugees.

"Andrew Taylor does a great job building the suspense around [burning] questions, and the novel twists and turns before finishing with a satisfying conclusion."

The story opens with what can only be translated as the words of warning Charles heard before he went mute: “Say nothing. Not a word to anyone. Whatever you see. Whatever you hear. Do you understand? Say nothing. Ever.” It is no wonder we never hear Charles utter a single word in THE SILENT BOY.

When Edward arrives at Charnwood, he is met with several surprises --- not the least of which is learning that his possible son is a mute. A man named Rampton is handling the affair, and he warns Edward that a Monsieur de Quillon and Monsieur Fournier held the papers attesting to Augusta's death and burial. Rampton also indicates that de Quillon wishes to retain Charles as he infers he may actually be the boy’s father.

Like a mysterious horror or haunted house novel, Edward finds Charnwood Court to be a strange place that is easy to enter but not so easy to leave. He is drugged and told he is suffering from a violent toothache that requires extraction. During this hazy period, a startling thing occurs: Charles disappears. We find out that he was taken by a man in a blue coat. The identity of this person is not immediately revealed, and I won't spoil anything here.

What remains at the heart of THE SILENT BOY is this burning question: What did Charles see or hear that made him turn mute? Also, who are the dangerous individuals who still seek to silence him permanently? Author Andrew Taylor does a great job building the suspense around these questions, and the novel twists and turns before finishing with a satisfying conclusion.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on December 3, 2015

The Silent Boy
by Andrew Taylor