Updated: Apr 8
Laura Purcell has carved out quite the niche for herself in the genre of neo-Victorian ‘are spooky things happening or is it all in the imagination’? It feels like almost any book I look at with interest on Amazon, comparisons are made to The Silent Companions or Bone China. The Shape of Darkness carries on Purcell’s style of story and will prove very satisfying to anyone already a fan of her work. The Shape of Darkness follows struggling silhouette artist, Agnes, as she begins to suspect a killer is targeting her few clients. In desperation, she goes to child mediums, Pearl and Myrtle to try and identify the killer. She finds a strange kinship with albino Pearl, but her young friend is apparently sickening from the spirits who take over her body.
As I read the book, I kept accidentally referring to it as The Shade of Darkness — partly because of the shades or silhouettes produced by the book’s main character, and partly perhaps because of the increased ‘darkness’ in this novel compared to Purcell’s previous books. The body count really piles up in this novel, though in the manner of Agatha Christie, the deaths happen largely ‘off screen’ and aren’t revelled in grisly detail. The main creepy chills in this book come from characters still alive (or are they???), particularly Pearl’s father who wastes away from ‘Phossy Jaw’.
For existing fans of Purcell’s books, The Shape of Darkness fits nicely into her canon and provides the chills and twists one has come to expect. This is also a nice starting out point for anyone looking for a fresh new spooky writer with a decent back catalogue of equally great stories behind her. The Shape of Darkness is available to purchase on paperback and ebook here.