Welcome to my stop on The Shape of Darkness blog tour! Huge thanks to Random Things Tours for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: 21/01/2021
Length: 416 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction | Gothic
As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, 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… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?GoodReads
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…
This novel follows the lives of two key characters: Agnes and Pearl, both live very different lives and are very different people. After an accident several years ago Agnes’ health isn’t what it once was, despite this she does everything she can to support her bedridden mother and her young nephew. However after a series of deaths of her sites, it’s difficult to make money with silhouettes anymore. Then there’s pearl, a young girl who can speak with spirits who is in the care of her sister whilst her father is gravely ill. Whilst Agnes is a determined and headstrong woman who is desperate to find out the truth surrounding these mysterious murders; Pearl. is a quiet and timid girl who is terrified to defy her older sister. I loved both characters and the way Purcell simultaneously made them so different and yet you still pick up on subtle similarities. Throughout the novel I found myself rooting for both characters and this desire to ensure they would be okay kept me hooked right until the very end.
Purcell has a wonderful talent for bringing Gothic fiction back to the forefront of contemporary literature. For me the pacing of the novel was perfect with a gradual build up which masterfully created a tense atmosphere that doesn’t prepare you for the satisfying revelations to come. I loved how stories of the spiritual were woven into the narrative through the alternating perspectives the reader is presented. The descriptions of ghostly figures and other, almost, supernatural occurrences had me on edge-especially the short, ominous, notes began to appear.
Whilst the character development and Purcell’s incredible writing style made this novel an absolute delight for me to read; what really stood out to me was the plot itself and how carefully crafted it was. Throughout the novel I was suspicious of a particular character and was certain I knew what was really going on and yet, as I eagerly devoured the pages there were several occasions where my eyes and my mouth were wide open – even right up until the chilling final page. Which then left me frantically re-reading the last chapter as if more pages would magically appear and that the story would continue.
This was the first book I finished in 2021 and, not only did it have me scrambling to add more of Purcell’s work to my wishlist but it also had me even more excited for new releases coming this year. I highly recommend that you pick this novel up, especially as we are still in Winter’s clutches as it is the perfect read for these cold dark nights and you should definitely pick this up before October!