Audio-Book Review – The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell ★★★★☆

Title:  The Shape of Darkness

Author:  Laura Purcell

Narrated by: Sophie Aldred

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Ghost Story, Gothic

Time : 9 hours 45 minutes

Publication Date: 21st January 2021
Source: Netgalley

Rating: 4 out of 5.

_The Blurb - Playlist ScriptSilhouette 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?


I loved this book and found it hard to put it down.  

Told in two first person accounts one from Grace, a spinster who makes her living by cutting or painting silhouette portraits otherwise known as shades. The other voice is Pearl and through here eyes see the shady world of Victorian spiritualism. She is a young girl, a spirit medium tightly controlled and abused by her older sister.

the shape of darknessGrace, our protagonist is not physically strong having recently recovered from a pneumonia has been living with her mother and nephew since her sister died.  She is obviously very troubled when all the people she had cut a silhouette for recently, either as a client or not are found murdered. 

Pearl is only a child but she is made to participate in seances which leave her drained and ill with no memory of the spirit possession.   Her elder sister is the one who runs the show and is all in it for the money and blames Pearl for killing their mother in childbirth.  They have a father who is very ill after working in a match factory all his employed life. 

The narration of the audio book is very clear and the voice actor’s interpretation of each of the POV characters seems natural and expressive. 

I love how the twist right at the end was a huge surprise, but also felt inevitable.

Suitable For: Adults and older teenagers

Sex: None

Violence: Some but not on screen

Drug Reference: only legal Victorian laudanum addiction.

Swearing: none


A wonderfully engaging Gothic ghost story with more twists and turns than a roller coaster. 

Laura Purcell has published quite a few books now despite the fact that she looks so young still. She started with historical fiction and moved into the specific historical genre that is Gothic fiction. She also had the time to be a bookseller beforehand. This is the first of her books that I have read but I really must check out her back catalogue.

She lives in Essex with her husband and some guinea pigs.

She tweets @spookypurcell and her website can be found here:

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