It’s my stop on the blog tour today for the wonderful Laura Purcell’s new novel The Shape Of Darkness.
This is Laura’s 4th novel and as a local author and having read all 3 of her previous novels I jumped at the opportunity to not only read this new book but to support her on this blog tour. Thanks to Anne Cater and the publishers Raven Books, for my proof copy and to Anne for the invite onto this tour.
Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…
A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.
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…
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…
What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Laura Purcell’s books and this is yet another to add to that list.
Set in 1854 Bath, it has all of the author’s trade marks. Victorian Gothic, dark, cold houses, sickness, plus in this new novel Spiritualism, which gripped the country at this time.
Agnes Darken lives with her mother and much loved orphaned nephew Cedric. She works as a silhouette artist, bringing in little but much needed money. Her only support is Simon, a doctor and widow of her late sister.
To Agnes’s horror she is drawn into a series of murders, as one by one, her most recent clients are found dead. She is much concerned for her already small business that could be harmed by these connections. Harm that she must avoid as things are already in decline with the tastes for new technology like photography and daguerreotypes In an attempt to find out if there is someone out to get her, she makes contact with Pearl a young spirit medium and her controlling sister Myrtle, asking them to contact the victims in hope of finding out the identity of the murderer.
Threads of chilling and ghostly Victorian gothic like the supernatural, seances, mesmerism are wonderfully intertwined with the diseased, dirty and dangerous streets of Bath as we read of the stories behind Agnes, Pearl and Myrtle.
I particularly liked the descriptions of Agnes’s home. I literally felt the cold and damp blow over me each time she entered through the front door from the muddy, smelly street as the recently fallen snow melts to a dirty slush. There were some wonderful social observations and the parts which included the vivid description of Pearl’s father, as he lies suffering from Phossy Jaw highlighted a condition suffered from workers in the matchstick industry at this times.
As the story progresses I was engrossed within it’s twists and turns ending in a great conclusion. Another enjoyable read.