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?
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...
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Her first novel for Raven Books, The Silent Companions, was a Radio 2 and Zoe Ball ITV Book Club pick and was the winner of the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award, while her subsequent books – The Corset and Bone China – established Laura as the queen of the sophisticated, and spooky, page-turner.
I’m a big fan of Laura Purcell’s work so I leapt at the chance to read her newest Gothic horror. And I was not disappointed.
Taking in mesmerism and séances, the creation of silhouette art and the idea of being haunted by your losses, she weaves a sinister and macabre tale of Agnes Darken, a woman trying to make sense of a string of brutal murders that seem to be connected to her and a young girl, Pearl, who might just be able to channel the dead.
It also explores the place of women, as both Agnes and Pearl’s sister, Myrtle, are trying to make a living in a man’s world, where few professions are open to them, as opposed to Agnes’ friend Simon, a busy doctor, who doesn’t fret over every penny and often tries to help her out.
There’s also a little greedy pug called Morpheus, which hints nicely at some of the elements of Agnes’ situation.
It is truly excellent, part crime thriller mystery, part horror with its ghosts and grim killings. The ending was very satisfying.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.