Book Review: The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell

About the Book:

Be careful what you wish for… it may just come true.

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.

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing – Raven Books

Released 10th January 2023

My Thoughts:

The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell is by far her best yet. I’ve enjoyed her others, immensely, but this one has the aura of a classic about it. Set in Victorian London, it follows the goings on at the Mercury Theatre in London’s West End. Jenny has been given a job there, as dresser for the principal actress, yet right from the beginning, nothing is as it seems.

When the principal actress, Lilith, is gifted a cursed timepiece once belonging to a famous actor who died a grisly death on stage, her performances seem to take on a new level of energy that leaves her in a state of deterioration as the season progresses. Jenny, who is no fan of Lilith, can’t help but begin to feel concern, that slowly gives way to dread, as more and more, it seems as though the timepiece is possessed of a power that reaches beyond Lilith’s grasp.

This is a brilliantly paced gothic horror story, its setting within the London Victorian era so fitting and atmospheric. Laura Purcell has a talent for writing within this genre and era and delivers in a way that many promise yet don’t quite achieve. The sense of dread that filled me as I progressed through the story was met time and again with flinching purpose. I was fascinated, horrified, gripped, and reeled in, held spellbound right up until the unexpected ending.

Five solid gold stars for this one. It just does not get better than this.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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