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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell, read by Sophie Aldred.

Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness....

A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead - and to try to identify their killers - in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.

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....

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....

What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?

©2021 Laura Purcell (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Dripping with atmosphere with a corkscrew plot, Laura Purcell just gets better and better." (Stacey Halls, author of The Familiars and The Foundling)

"It's her best one yet and that’s saying something. A story of a woman haunted in every way possible, I think it’s a future gothic classic." (Martyn Waites)

"Darkly addictive and utterly compelling. Reading Laura’s books is like watching a horror movie where you have to keep hiding behind a cushion because you dread what is coming next, but you simply have to find out!" (Ruth Hogan)

What listeners say about The Shape of Darkness

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  • ar
  • 11-02-21

astounding

Brilliant storytelling with a gripping narrative!

The story is set in 16th century Victorian Bath and our main protagonist, Agnes, a silhouette artist is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, while also struggling to make enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric she finds one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for her, and then another, and another... Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

What looks like a seemingly straightforward murder mystery with an eerie setting with spirit mediums and mesmerism, becomes quite the page turner with a stupendous climax. Had me in a state of good shock till the very end.

I would give a separate 5stars for the narration!!

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  • The Curator
  • 30-01-21

Creepy and twisty

Halfway through this I was a bit meh. It seemed obvious what was going on. I was very wrong though and by the end I really enjoyed being fooled by the author.

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  • Margot Leadbetter
  • 03-02-21

Victorian creepiness

If I hadn't just finished the awesome Shuggie Bain I may have given this more. I didn't learn anything new. This genre has been very popular in the last 3 years and I think I need a break. Purcell does it well but its very similar to her others. I think The Silent Companions was better. The ending was predictable.

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  • lesley thorne
  • 25-03-21

wow a page Turner for sure

absolutely loved this book from the minute I picked it up....then I couldn't put it down. lots of twists and turns with a jaw dropping ending

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  • Isolde
  • 29-01-21

Beautiful Victorian Gothic Thriller

The language throughout this book is sublime. The richly evocative writing brings life to Victorian Bath.
I think the story will appeal to people with a vivid imagination as the first part drew strongly on my ability to turn the words mentally into atmospheric pictures. I think for people who struggle with imagining storylines it may be a bit slow.
The first part of the story moved at a slower pace but at the half-way point it was gripping and addictive. I loved the setting, the creepy dark shadows, the exploration of Agnes' role as a silhouettist, the Victorian obsession with spiritualism and the description of the societal position of women.
This story would make an excellent TV series, movie or play so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
The supernatural element was also a draw for me. I was totally immersed in the world of Agnes Darken. The narration was excellent and meant I could lose myself in the story.

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  • astha malhotra
  • 09-04-21

waste of time

Mad senseless story! stretched unnecessarily. The storyline is forced and has no flow to it.

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  • H Angeli
  • 26-03-21

Laura Purcell never disappoints

this book is amazing! even better than the silent companions!
I loved it. I would recommend to anyone who likes creepy stories.

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  • Belinda
  • 24-03-21

Guilty pleasure

It was indeed a guilty pleasure to retreat into listening to this curious tale. There was plenty of mystery to reflect upon and then to grasp. It was very well researched and I learnt a little history from it. I have a ‘shadow’ of an in-law from a long time since so it was interesting to hear facts about the art. I also had distant relatives who practised the deceptive art of the séance, so that too was very absorbing indeed! If you read this Ms Purcell I’d like to thank you very much indeed for the entertaining listen!

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  • Suzy
  • 16-02-21

Great story and lovely narration

Good narrator, easy to listen to. The story was fabulous, very compelling , keeps you on your toes.

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  • Marta
  • 02-02-21

Fantastic!

Very good, lots of twist as I like it. Thanks for another great book!

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  • T. Peters
  • 28-01-21

A good, creepy story that had me hooked

As I happens, I worked out the ending half way through. However, the author's skilful weaving of the story meant that I was never sure I had it right until the last page. The narrator's voice was clear and the book well read. Recommended.