This is my first Blog Tour of 2021 and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be reviewing the latest novel from Laura Purcell. Let me introduce you to The Shape of Darkness, a glorious historical novel with just the right touch of gothic to keep you turning the pages, with each sentence unsettling you slightly more than the last.
Welcome to Bath of the late 1800’s. The spa and naval town is not quite as glamorous as once it was and there is air of abandonment hanging heavy in the air.
This is reflected in the footsteps of characters we follow. Agnes Darken, is a middle aged silhouette cutter, struggling to make ends meet. Her lover has deserted her years before but still she is quietly hoping for his return. References to past tragedy and illness add to the air of mystery and decay. Agnes’ concerns now centre around how to support her elderly mother and young orphaned nephew, Cedric . Her widowed brother in law Dr Simon Carfax, is a constant support but the memory of his wife, Agnes own sister Constance, is shrouded in secrecy and darkness.
And life suddenly takes an even darker turn when Agnes’ clients seem to be falling victim to murder, each case more gruesome and chilling than the last. Why are her clients being targeted in this way and are the people Agnes loves in danger from this unseen menace?
As Agnes becomes increasingly desperate and the boundaries between the real and the imagined become increasingly blurred, Agnes finds herself drawn to look for answers in the most unlikely of places.
Enter Myrtle and her young albino half sister Pearl. Having lost her mother at birth Pearl is left at the mercy of her own, forceful sister. Having moved to Bath for the health of her father, a victim of the notorious match factories which have left him maimed and dying, the sisters are making a living through the increasingly popular art of Spiritualism. But her increasingly powerful talent terrifies 11 year old Pearl and her world seems to be getting darker by the day.
When the world’s of Agnes and Pearl unexpectedly collide the scene is set for a gothic tale of unimaginable proportions.
Once again Laura Purcell has created a story that will keep the pages turning and your interest alive to the very last minute. Each detail, each turn of fate is woven skilfully into a plot that both chills and delights at every turn. The sense of family and bonds that bind is a recurring theme. The need for love, security and comfort is close to the hearts of both Agnes and Pearl, but their quest continues to take darker paths, each turn more desperate than the last.
When family is not the haven it should be, where will Agnes and Pearl find the protection and affection they need? And has the past finished with both of them or is the worst still to come?
In short Laura Purcell has, yet again produced a novel of true gothic beauty. If you are looking for something which will immerse you in delicious darkness this one is your winner.
And there is more…
Huge thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me along for the ride. And to read more reactions and reviews check out the rest of the tour, all dates and blogs listed below.