The Poison Thread: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

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

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A thrilling Victorian gothic horror tale 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? 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.

Praise For…

“[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

“Phantasmic thrills... A true page-turner.” Times Literary Supplement

“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, where pseudo-science meets needlework in the most chilling and unexpected ways... 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

Praise for The Silent Companions

“[An] extraordinary, memorable and truly haunting book.” —Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A perfect read for a winter night . . . An intriguing, nuanced, and genuinely eerie slice of Victorian gothic.”
—The Guardian

“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. . . . In inviting us into her eerie Gothic world, Purcell masterfully attends to every atmospheric detail—from the dirty hems of skirts to the slanting light of dawn. Her novel is 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)

“An atmospheric, eerie Victorian gothic novel . . . its combustible tale of a 19th-century woman tormented by an English country house’s creepy curios does produce sparks.”
—Publishers Weekly

“This perfect fireside read combines all the best characteristics of the gothic genre.”

“Irresistibly creepy, this romps along, Purcell turning her screws with skill. It’s what crumpets and dismal afternoons were made for.”
—Glamour (UK)

“One of the most well-written horror stories I’ve read this year, The Silent Companions is proper Gothic fare. . . . What is commendable is how Purcell is able to weave all these [classic] elements in a story that is layered and psychologically complex till the very end.”
Book Riot

“The chill of The Silent Companions sneaks up on you and then settles in like a gray mist on a British moor . . . a shivery treat.”

“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 RebeccaThe Silent Companions will chill readers who fall under its spell.”
Shelf Awareness
Product Details
ISBN: 9780143134053
ISBN-10: 0143134051
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: June 18th, 2019
Pages: 368