The Shape of Darkness

Written by Laura Purcell
Review by Edward James

If you like Victorian Gothic novels, you are in for a treat.  Indeed, any reader is in for a treat as long as they take care not to read this at bedtime.  It does not make for sweet dreams.

The story begins quietly with an aging spinster living in genteel poverty in 1850s Bath.  The tension builds slowly, a mounting sense of hysteria which explodes in terrible violence.  The action is set in the world of Victorian spiritualism: eerie seances, messages from beyond the veil, and unexplained deaths.  Nobody is trustworthy, least of all the narrator.  The research is impeccable, and the characterisation is so good it hurts when one of the characters dies.

Not a feel-good story, but definitely a page turner.