Review | The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Another twisty gothic tale that Purcell’s fans are sure to love. 4/5.

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell book cover image

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing/Raven Books for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The blurb:

My take:

I’ve read and enjoyed Laura Purcell’s previous three books: The Silent Companions, The Corset and Bone China. I’m pleased to report that with The Shape of Darkness she has produced another entertaining tale steeped in wall-to-wall gothic spookiness. Creating atmosphere is her forte and all her books are pervaded by a creeping menace, darkness and paranoia.

I thought Bath was a good choice of setting and it was nice to get a narrative set anywhere other than London. This story takes us into a dirtier, grungier side of a city which is gleaming white and regal in so many other stories, particularly period romances. And as this story is a sort of anti-romance, the grimy backdrop is especially fitting.

The story is delivered from two viewpoints: Pearl and Agnes’. I didn’t really warm to Agnes – she’s so brittle and on edge from the very start of the book that she keeps you at a distance. Whereas it’s impossible not to feel for poor little Pearl and wanting to know what would happen to her kept me turning the pages.

As with Purcell’s previous books, there is a good balance of apparently supernatural shennanigans vs. more rational explanations for events. While this juggling act keeps the reader guessing as to what exactly is going on, the mystery is paced perfectly, with new information dripped in at just the right moments to give you a chance to figure it all out for yourself and the final twist is delivered brilliantly.

It’s a shame this wasn’t published for Halloween as it’s the perfect book for the time of year when the nights start drawing in. And if you’re looking for something spooky and chilling, but not “now I have to sleep with all the lights on” scary, this could be the book for you.

Overall: a well-paced, intriguing and atmospheric story in a great, grimy setting. Fans of gothic page-turners won’t be disappointed and will be left looking forward to Purcell’s next.


Claire Huston / Art and Soul

13 thoughts on “Review | The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

  1. Pingback: Links I’ve Enjoyed This Week – 31/01/2021 #WeeklyRoundUpPost 🔗📆 🔗 #SecretLibraryBookBlog – Secret Library Book Blog

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