Publisher: Bloomsbury Raven
Publication Date: 20th September 2018
This book is as close to perfect as a book can possibly be, for me anyway. I was a huge fan of The Silent Companions and knowing Laura Purcell’s writing, I was hotly anticipating this book.
It ticks absolutely every one of my 5 star book boxes. Historical, dark, grim, shocking, and twisted. At one point I was reading this on the bus and felt physically queasy! And I’ve got the constitution of an ox! BUT DO NOT BE ALARMED! It was a good queasy……a brilliant queasy, a got right under my skin and turned my stomach queasy. Trust me! Read on…..
Dorothea Truelove has a penchant for phrenology, a study of the skull as a means to give indications of a persons character. She often visits Oakgate Prison as part of her charity work, spending time with prisoners and taking measurements of their craniums all to give an idea of their propensity to commit crime and whether they can be rehabilitated.
When Dorothea hears of a new inmate, 16 year old seamstress Ruth Butterham and the murder she has committed, she knows she must visit her and continue her research. But when Ruth starts to tell her story, hinting at more deaths on her hands than the authorities originally thought, Dorothea is torn between whether to believe young Ruth or dismiss her dark tales as mere fiction.
Ruth believes the power she wields in her sewing needles are far beyond comprehension and indeed her control. But to what end has Ruth put this power to?
The story swings between the two women narrating. I must admit that I was drawn more towards Ruth’s narrative, probably due to all the fascinating detail it held, and really the story was unfolding with her. Dorothea’s voice is very distinctive and you can make the very definite differentiation between the social standing of both women when reading her chapters.
Laura Purcell’s writing is so compelling and atmospheric, you are almost transported back to the Victorian era, witnessing Ruth’s horrors with her. And they are horrors! Man are they! Grim details surrounding death are not shied away from. As a reader you are thrust deep into the awful, shocking, hell of it all and emerge on the other side a little wrung out! (At least I did!)
I should also mention that I read this via Pigeonhole, (I must do a blog post about this soon) so I was given a ‘stave’ a day. This was by turns both a saviour and an annoyance. A saviour because it made me draw out this marvellous book and saviour each and every word. An annoyance for obvious reasons, once you’ve come to the end of the stave you immediately WANT MORE!
I could wax lyrical about this masterpiece all day. I know that I will be thinking about this book for a long time. It will be lingering there in the back of my mind. I’ve already purchased 2 copies for likeminded people who I know will love it. I’d love to buy everyone a copy, push them down in a chair and say ‘read that’.
This book will definitely be in my top books of 2018. Maybe even the number one spot! A beautifully crafted, dark tale that crawls under your skin and takes root in your brain.
See you all soon
Bookish Chat xxx