A gothic tale set in a rambling house by the sea in which a maid cares for a mute old woman with a mysterious past, alongside her superstitious staff--from the author of The Silent Companions.

A perfect spooky read!

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft's family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr. Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the disease in the caves beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.

Forty years later, Hester arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralyzed and mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try to escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.

Laura Purcell's THE SHAPE OF DARKNESS is now out from Penguin!
"Purcell paints a colorful portrait of her tale’s distant time and place and immerses the reader in an era when superstition was a tenacious thread in the social fabric that bound its people. Her tale of secret guilt and atoning for it through ancient customs will please fans of classic gothic melodrama." —Publisher's Weekly

"Purcell excels at creating a spooky Gothic ambience... A dark and unsettling novel for lovers of Rebecca and Jane Eyre." —Kirkus

"Purcell has a sure storytelling touch, a command of atmosphere and a keen eye for the telling details of social history. Oh, and she stores up some satisfying and suitably macabre final revelations." —The Guardian

"A Victorian tale replete with laudanum, tuberculosis and possibly fairies... a clever, creepy read." —Sunday Express, Best New Thrillers

"Brilliantly atmospheric and chilling... I raced through the pages hardly daring to find out what would happen next. Laura’s characters and the world they inhabit are compelling, unsettling and richly drawn. A fabulous tale!" —Ruth Hogan, author of The Keeper of Lost Things

Praise for The Poison Thread


"Uncanny... Satisfying." New York Times Book Review

"[A] well-wrought chiller.” —Wall Street Journal

"Suspenseful... This smart and sophisticated historical thriller will appeal to fans of Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith and Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace." —Publishers Weekly 

“A dark, gothic story… Purcell alternates character narratives to question motives, reality, and truth on a ‘bumpy’ ride full of violence and death.” —Booklist

"A fascinating mystery that’s rich in disquieting detail and at­mosphere.” BookPage