The Poison Thread: A Novel (Paperback)
A maid's apparent ability to stitch malice into her work like poison leaves her accused of murder. Does she truly have supernatural powers? If not, why does disaster seem to strike everyone around her? More subtle than Purcell's first Victorian gothic, The Silent Companions, this tale blends Dickensian social commentary with a blow-by-blow of hazardous Victorian ladies' wear, bringing a whole new meaning to the term "fashion victim." —Caitlin— From Staff Favorites List- Spring 2019
A perfect spooky Halloween read!
"[An] uncanny Gothic mystery... Satisfying."—New York Times Book Review
"A romping read with a deliciously dark conceit at its center... Reminded me of Alias Grace."—Kiran Millwood Hargrave
A thrilling Victorian gothic horror story about a young seamstress who claims her needle and thread have the power to kill
Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy, and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor, and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea's charitable work brings her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted by the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person's skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets one of the prisoners, the teenaged seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another strange idea: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread--because Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.
The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations—of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses—will shake Dorothea's belief in rationality, and the power of redemption. Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer? For fans of Shirley Jackson, The Poison Thread is a spine-tingling, sinister read about the evil that lurks behind the facade of innocence.
About the Author
Laura Purcell is the author of The Silent Companions. She worked in local government, the financial industry and a bookshop before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England, with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Fascinated by the darker side of royal history, Laura has also written two historical fiction novels about the Hanoverian dynasty.
"[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
"A chilling and engrossing read."—Kirkus
"A potent, powerful novel: seductive, spellbinding, and - in every sense of the word - haunting. As atmospheric as Sarah Waters, as psychologically astute as Tana French."—A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“[The Poison Thread is] a compelling slice of early Victorian gothic… Vivid and well researched, this book is an evocative portrait of a society that punishes women who dare to contravene social norms… a splendid mystery with suitably melodramatic flourishes.”—The Guardian
“With the skill of a born story teller Laura Purcell has crafted a tale as intricate and flawless as Ruth's stitches. By turns horrifying and humorous, The Poison Thread is a darkly compelling, unsettling and fascinating book... the very best kind of gothic fiction. Reminiscent of Sarah Waters and Margaret Atwood, but uniquely and unmistakably Laura Purcell.”—ES Thomson, author of the Jem Flockhart Mysteries
“This gothic chiller casts an addictive spell.”—Sunday Mirror
“Intricate, atmospheric and chilling – with a wonderfully dark premise at its heart.”—Woman & Home
"Phantasmic thrills... A true page-turner."—Times Literary Supplement
Praise for The Silent Companions
“[An] extraordinary, memorable and truly haunting book.”—Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“If The Silent Companions lands on your night table, don’t plan on leaving your bed anytime soon. Immersive, meticulous, and reminiscent of the masters of gothic fiction—not only a compulsively readable ghost story, but a skillful, loving ode to the entire genre.”—Lyndsay Faye, bestselling author of Jane Steele
“Purcell crafts a virtually flawless work of Gothic fiction with this deeply atmospheric, foreboding story. . . . reminiscent of the work of all the greats, particularly Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier, but Purcell has a style all her own. A must for all lovers of Gothic literature.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“This perfect fireside read combines all the best characteristics of the gothic genre.”—Booklist
“Laura Purcell weaves a classic tale of gothic horror. . . . Purcell has all the finest ingredients of the gothic tradition. . . . Reminiscent of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black and even du Maurier’s Rebecca, The Silent Companions will chill readers who fall under its spell.”—Shelf Awareness