Reviews

The Shape of Darkness, by Laura Purcell

sickofreading's review

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dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

geekylou's review

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5.0

Brilliantly written. Spooky and kept me wondering throughout.

annevh's review against another edition

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dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Loveable characters? Yes

4.0

shoelessmama's review against another edition

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4.0

This was my second book by this author and she's becoming a favorite. Perfectly paced with a stunner of an ending (in both books!)

lauraowen's review

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dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

booksbylaura_'s review

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dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

scwmoore's review

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4.0

Wonderfully written, and supremely spooky! I was held spellbound from the first page. This one is a definite must-read.

4.5 stars, and highly recommended

alexa_mbf's review

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dark mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

A little slow to start however soon immerses the reader deep within the Victorian era. Mysteries appeal to unfurl both slowly and without warning remaining a source of intrigue until the very last page.

ceallaighsbooks's review

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dark emotional informative mysterious sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

“How often it has been remarked that the Gift manifests itself after a period of severe illness!… The Power always follows sickness and frequently comes to the gentler sex. The lower in status they are, the stronger they seem to grow. Deprivation, frustration and discontent: these are the grounds in which mediumship breeds.” 
 
TITLE—The Shape of Darkness 
AUTHOR—Laura Purcell 
PUBLISHED—2021 
 
GENRE—historical fiction 
SETTING—Bath, England in mid-1800’s 
MAIN THEMES/SUBJECTS—ghosts, spiritualism, scéances, Victorian England, mental illness, trauma, grief, illness, family, betrayal, jealousy 
 
WRITING STYLE—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
CHARACTERS—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
STORY/PLOT—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
BONUS ELEMENT/S—I can’t say what my favorite thing about this book was because it’s a total spoiler but let’s just say that I was VERY excited about it. 😈🤣 
PHILOSOPHY—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
 
“If there’s one thing she understands about grief, it’s how it chokes: the fingers of death, squeezing the throats of the living.” 
 
The strength of Purcell’s stories lie in the ambiguities of the reader being able to figure out what actually happens in the book. The events and characters walk the line between the trauma and pain of real life and something a bit more on the supernatural side of things so that by the end of the story you’re left wondering what is real, what is imagined—are ghosts real? are monsters real? Or are the things the characters experience reactions to the trauma of their lives? Or is that itself the very real genesis of the supernatural? 
 
Another thing I love about Purcell’s books is the absorbing atmosphere and the incredibly in-depth historical details she includes to real create a world that fits the action and characters of her stories so perfectly. I’ll definitely be preordering all her future books and can’t wait to read The Corset—the only one of hers left that I haven’t read yet. 😂 
 
“This is what Agnes wanted: to converse with the dead, yet she is speechless before their eternity.” 
 
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
 
TW // grief, gore, graphic illness (Please feel free to DM me for more specifics!) 
 
Further Reading— 
  • The Silent Companions, by Laura Purcell
  • The Séance, by John Harwood—TBR
  • The Last Séance, by Agatha Christie—TBR
  • Affinity, by Sarah Waters—TBR
  • The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton


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maccymacd's review

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5.0

The second Laura Purcell I have read. I am saving the other two so I don't finish them too quickly.
Purcell really is the Queen of the ultimate creepy, gothic read. 'The Shape of Darkness' concerns the beautiful artistry of 'shade cutting' - the act of creating a person's profile on black paper. It's an extremely delicate and complex art form, but Agnes has been doing it for years, and since her terrible bought of pneumonia she has been focussed even more on honing her craft and giving herself something to get up for. Looking after her elderly and infirm mother Agatha and her nephew Cedric has also taken it out of her, but she does her best in their cramped home. Luckily, she herself is being kept an eye on by Simon Carfax, the widowed husband of her late sister, Constance.
In a parallel to Agnes, Pearl is a young albino child, who lives and works with her sister Myrtle. Their job is mesmerism. Pearl is known as 'The White Sylph' - the girl who can conjure up spirits of the past for paying customers. Pearl and Myrtle are also living with an elderly parent. Their father. He is confined to bed, in a state of agony due to a rotting jaw that he has as a result of working in a match factory. Myrtle refuses a doctor, saying she can cure him with mesmerism, but Pearl is torn and doesn't know what to believe. Pearl herself is not in a good state, as every time she takes part in a séance she finds herself vomiting and feverish for days after.
These 2 families are going to collide, hard. First one, then two then a third person is found dead - murdered. And each person has previously sat for a shade with Agnes... is there some logical explanation? A coincidence? Or is there something supernatural at work?
This was just a superb book. It had just the right tone of unease, strangeness and perfect descriptions of Victorian Bath. I adored it. I recommend Laura Purcell to everyone!!!
The two