The Shape of Darkness – Laura Purcell

Published by: Raven Books
Pages: 416
Date released: 21/01/2021
Date read: 25/01/2021

As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back.

Laura Purcell has well and truly cemented herself as the queen of gothic fiction. The Shape of Darkness is heartwarming and nervy and terrifying and compelling and addictive.

And for someone who used to live in Bath, it was lovely to identify my old hometown but creepy to see it in such a light.

The Shape of Darkness is a Victorian gothic novel that rivals gothic fiction of the period itself. It has dark creepy houses, tense silent moments around dead bodies, the chilling ticks of the grandfather clock. It makes you feel so uncomfortable whilst reading it, trying in earnest to find out who is killing these people as quickly as you can to try and make the book easier to read.

Purcell has a ridiculously impressive way of threading deception through her narrative – there’s no way I would have guessed the ending, no matter how many clues she drip-fed the reader.

In all honesty, I think Purcell’s previous novel The Corset just has the edge for me. Having said that, there isn’t a single negative comment about The Shape of Darkness. Here’s hoping Laura Purcell can keep this talent up for any future books – oh how I hope there are future books!

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