Wow! This is a book that I’ve not been able to get out of my head since I finished it. If you love a gripping ghost story, you need to read The Shape of Darkness. With its creepy twists, it’s dark, gothic setting and its addictive plot, this definitely is a must lockdown read!
The Shape of Darkness is the latest novel from Laura Purcell, whose first novel The Silent Companions was a Radio 2 and Zoe Ball ITV Book Club pick, as well as the winner of the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award. I swear, if you have not discovered Laura Purcell yet, you are in for a ghostly delight! I have also read The Silent Companions – we read it for my book group a while back – and I loved that. So when I was offered the opportunity to read and review The Shape of Darkness, I snatched it up. And like The Silent Companions, I was blown away with the sophisticated and twisting plot.
Laura Purcell lured me in and chilled me to the bone. But believe me, I wasn’t prepared for the ending!
Still haunted by a lost love and recovering from an illness that almost killed her, Agnes Darken is struggling to make a living as a silhouette artist. Set in Bath during the Victorian era, silhouette artistry is dying out with the dawn of the newly invented photograph. Agnes is reliant on her business as she is a single, middle aged woman supporting her elderly mother and orphaned nephew. So when one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for her, Agnes is scared. And then another of her clients is killed, and then another…
Why is the killer targeting Agnes’s business as she attempts to make a living?
Plagued with fear and desperate for answers, Agnes turns to Pearl, an 11 year-old spirit medium to try and make contact with the dead clients, hopefully revealing the murderer. Pearl lives with her dominating (and in my view, scary) half sister who has brought her up after their mother died giving birth to Pearl. Never knowing her mother, Pearl is desperate to make contact with her mother’s spirit as well as try and save her father who is gravely ill.
Together Agnes and Pearl try to use the young medium’s spiritualist ‘gift’ to make contact with the dead and seek answers. Yet with ugly demons rising to haunt them – they soon discover that they are out of their depth – with devastating consequences.
I loved this book; the eerie, slow burning plot that teased me right to the last page, the mystery surrounding Agnes’s past, the dark gothic setting and the portrayal of the characters, especially the women. In their own unique way, they are heroines struggling to survive in the Victorian patriarchal world. I especially loved Agnes and Pearl – with their histories and heart wrenching vulnerabilities slowly revealed, I empathised and strived for them all the way through their dark struggles.
If you want a book to take you away from the monotony of lockdown, read The Shape of Darkness. Published in hardback on 21st January 2021, its available now for you all to read.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour to promote the publication of this spooky page-turner. Believe me, Laura Purcell is a great, atmospheric story-teller.
To also read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers, please see below.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂