The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell

Posted On 24 January 2023

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My Five Word TL: DR Review : I loved everything about this.


It seems that Laura Purcell is not only the Gothic Queen but she also seems unable to do little wrong in terms of her creations.  This is an author that I usually dance a little jig to whenever I discover that she has a new release pending and so far I’ve enjoyed them all – very much.

Set in the theatre this is a dark and atmospheric read.  It revolves around five key plays that reflect the story as it progresses.  It’s a tale involving plenty of drama, unholy deals that come at a price, jealousy, ambition and tragedy.

As the story begins we meet Jenny, she’s fallen on hard times following the betrayal of her own brother which has left Jenny and her siblings in dire straits.  When Jenny is called to meet the wealthy wife of of the Mercury Theatre owner she is intrigued and a little amazed when she’s offered the job of dresser at the theatre – the very place where her brother betrayed not only her but the cast and crew of the theatre itself.  It seems that the lady herself has suspicions about her husband and his leading actress and wishes Jenny to be her inside eyes – a spy no less – and Jenny is desperate enough to take the position.  Of course, when she begins to find out she likes the actress in question, admire her a little even, it doesn’t help her to undertake her new role.

I loved this.  The setting, the plot, the writing, the dark gothic feel, the characters, the strange blending in of theatre and supernatural elements with such a deft touch.  Absolutely loved it and frankly I could read it again.

The theatre setting and Victorian period is perfect and seems to be Purcell’s domain.  The theatres is brought to life beautifully, dilapidated and yet startling when the bright lights shine.  This is a dangerous place and when things start to go wrong, it seems like bad luck has come calling

The leading lady, Lilith Erikson, is a beautiful and passionate woman, full of ambition and determined to grasp the nettle now.  When she comes into possession of a strange watch, one believed to contain dark powers, her troubles begin.  Her performances on stage are magnificent, she lives and breathes the characters, but off stage she loses her will.  Jenny is a great character too and it’s a pleasure to read two such strong female leads.  Jenny is basically good at heart and therefore conflicted with her newfound role as tittle tattle.  She feels bad for spying on Lilith but needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle, she’s basically in between a rock and a hard place and must take any work she’s offered – and this is indeed a lucrative position.

The supernatural elements revolve around a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse from Greek mythology.  These elements are subtly woven into the story in such a way that I think readers who don’t particularly love supernatural elements will still enjoy.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  The writing is fantastic, it provides the perfect balance in all ways, the theatre comes to life and the characters leap off the page.  In a nutshell, I can’t say enough good things about this book.  Put simply I loved it and like a greedy child desperate for more I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars


Countdown to 2023 – Day 24 ‘Christmas Eve’ (7 days remaining)


Today is day 24 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Eve’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS EVE (One of your most anticipated books for 2023)

For this prompt I have to give a shout out for a favourite author.  Laura Purcell.  I love her books and I get super excited whenever I see she’s written something new.  The Whispering Muse is sat waiting on my shelves and I suspect it will be one of my earlier reads.

Tomorrow: Christmas Day – choose a boo from your wishlist

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell


“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to. 

This week my book is: The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell.  Basically, not to lay it on to thick over here, but I’ve really enjoyed all the books I’ve read by this author so to say I was excited to see this is something of an understatement.  I can’t even begin to describe my excitement – I don’t have enough words and you all don’t have enough time.  I’ve used a cover from Goodreads that is not yet finalised so be aware of that please:


By the pricking of my thumbs…

At The Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, rumours are circulating of a curse.

It is said that the lead actress Lilith has made a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse of Greek mythology, to become the greatest actress to ever grace the stage. Suspicious of Lilith, the jealous wife of the theatre owner sends dresser Jenny to spy on her, and desperate for the money to help her family, Jenny agrees.

What Jenny finds is a woman as astonishing in her performance as she is provocative in nature. On stage, it’s as though Lilith is possessed by the characters she plays, yet off stage she is as tragic as the Muse who inspires her, and Jenny, sorry for her, befriends the troubled actress. But when strange events begin to take place around the theatre, Jenny wonders if the rumours are true, and fears that when the Muse comes calling for payment, the cost will be too high.

…Something Wicked this way comes

Expected publication : February 2023

Friday Face Off : Must be Gothic


Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

This week’s theme:

Must be Gothic

Today I’ve chosen a book from a favourite author who really can write a gothic tale.  Laura Purcell’s Silent Companions:

Perhaps not the darkest of the covers but I love the attention to detail and that eye looking through the keyhole brrr *chills*.

Do you have a favourite?

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week : Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed


November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground


3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Laura Purcell Does It Again

ShapeofThe Shape of Darkness is Laura Purcell’s latest novel and is another fine display of her wonderful writing ability.  I started with her Silent Companions novel and was blown away and consequently devour everything she writes.

As the title suggests, this story is dark indeed and is a perfect combination of Victorian superstition and fascination with the macabre.  This is not the Bath of the Regency period with women in empire dresses and bonnets sashaying around the Pump Rooms gossiping about the latest fashions and the militia.  This is a period of industry with the grime, poor sanitary conditions and bleak working conditions associated with the period and Purcell uses this to enhance her story displaying the disparity between the rich and the poor, using the horrors of a period where decent working conditions were non-existent and offsetting this with the change in psyche at a time when invention and change were paramount.

As SoD beings we meet Agnes Darken.  Bath is in the grips of winter and Agnes is struggling in more ways than one.  She isn’t 100% fit having almost died from pneumonia and having suffered family loss is now responsible for the care of her mother and young nephew.  On top of this work is harder to come by.  Times are changing and people want the new and modern.  Photography is the new rage and very few people are interested in having their silhouette taken – which is the profession that Agnes excels at and indeed loves.  Times are tough, the cupboards are bare, the tea caddy empty and the house cold and unwelcoming.  Agnes needs to work but when her customers start dying under strange circumstances her livelihood is really threatened and Agnes finally seeks the help of a spiritualist.

I will confess that when I first started SoD I struggled a little to connect as the beginning is undoubtedly bleak.  But, let me be clear, this uncertainty only lasted a few pages before Purcell had hooked me with the strange coincidences that surrounded each death.

What I really loved about this was the different povs.  We have Agnes, an older woman, unhappy in love, who is struggling to cope.  We then have a young girl called Pearl, only 11 or 12 I think, an albino who apparently is a gifted spiritualist.  Pearl lives with her sister and the two take care of their father who is slowly dying from Phossy Jaw.  Agnes would have been considered a genteel woman, educated and well spoken but fallen upon hard times.  Pearl and her family are working class, also struggling to survive with low wages and harsh conditions and resort to doing whatever it takes to survive.  A strange connection links the two families and slowly but surely they become more involved.

Purcell absolutely excels at the gothic.  She is a word magician when it comes to deliciously dark mysteries and using the Victorian era, which is positively oozing with creepiness.  She manages to conjure a time and a place with perfect ease.  The house, cold and dark, only the ticking of the clock to break the silence.  The time of year, freezing cold, icy fingers, threadbare clothes and sooty fireplaces.  But, more than that it’s the quiet sense of unease that prevails throughout the read.  You’re swept up in the story, so busy putting (or trying to put) together the pieces to make a whole, becoming more excited as you chase the clues, that you don’t realise you’ve missed something until the gloriously twisted end. To be honest, even now I’m in two minds about the ending – and yes, that is a deliberate play on words.

This is an author that continues to impress, she continually comes up with curious phenomenon that leaves me with the desire to learn more once I finish reading and I find myself, again, desperately waiting to see what she comes up with next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

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