Confession: I’ve had a copy of Laura Purcell’s Bone China sitting on my shelf for ages. Before I could get around to it, though, she slapped me with her latest: The Shape Of Darkness, which the fine folks at Raven Books were kind enough to send me for review. I glanced at the blurb and decided that this one sounded like more fun, anyway!
The Shape Of Darkness is a delightfully lightly-scary ghost story-slash-murder mystery, set in Victorian-era Bath. Agnes is a silhouette artist, struggling to stay afloat with the advent of the photograph threatening to put her out of business.
One of her few remaining clients is brutally murdered… and then another… and then another.
Her chapters alternate with those about Pearl, a young girl who can speak to the other side with a grifter sister who plans to wring every dollar out of her she can.
Agnes suspects Pearl might be able to help her find the murderer that seems to be targeting her business, but (as she points out on page 212): “Ghosts, it seems, are contrary creatures. Not the oracles she had hoped for but imps, out to tantalise and tease.”