I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell
Published by Penguin on June 18, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Historical, General, Gothic, Ghost
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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
"A romping read with a deliciously dark conceit at its center... Reminded me of Alias Grace."—Kiran Millwood Hargrave
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.
The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell is a hauntingly atmospheric story centered Dorothea Truelove and Ruth Butterham. Dorothea is born into wealth and privilege while Ruth has only known what it is like to be poor. They first meet when sixteen year old Ruth is in New Oakgate Prison convicted of murdering her mistress. Dorothea sits on the women’s prison board and often converses with the women prisoners. When Dorothea first meets Ruth, she is drawn into her story and often wonders if Ruth is a cunning killer or a sinister seamstress who weaves death and destruction everywhere she goes.
I really loved reading about Dorothea and Ruth. They were so different from each other and yet I could not help but notice quite a few similarities too. Both women are living in Victorian society and while Dorothea wants more out of life than the roles placed on women during this time period, Ruth just wants to feel like she belongs. I guess in a way they are both trying to find their place especially in a male dominated society.
Laura Purcell did such a wonderful job at portraying both girls and easily shows the downward spiral of Ruth especially when it comes to her being a seamstress and sewing hate into each piece of cloth. Is it murder or is it a delusion? Dorothea is not sure what to believe at first, but she wants to help Ruth come to terms with what she has done and finally repent for her crimes. But, the story takes a turn and builds in momentum the deeper you get into the story and at some points I wondered where the delusions ended and the truth began.
Purcell easily draws you into the story with her descriptive writing and it is often times raw and gritty. There are a lot of scenes that are hard to read especially when it comes to child abuse. I could not help but feel sympathy to Ruth and everything she has been through and yet at the same time also feel for Dorothea as well as she has her own demons she is fighting.
The poison Thread has such a gothic undertone and there are quite a few times I was left wondering how the story would end or if it would take a more realistic approach. I am happy to say I was definitely surprised with the ending and it is one that will really make you think.
If you love atmospheric gothic fiction that has quite a few twists, then you will definitely love The Poison Thread. I was incredibly hooked from the first page and just could not put this book down. This is definitely a five star read for me and one I highly recommend.