Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Sophia Rose Reviews - The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell

I know I've been gone awhile but have no fear I'll be back soon almost finished getting my house back in order then off to Florida for vacation and I'll have a special post to update you all on what's happened this spring and summer tomorrow. 

But today it's Sophia Rose's turn to tell you all about a bone chilling gothic horror. It's definitely one thing guaranteed to give you goose bumps even when it's 90º outside.
Sophia Rose take it away!

The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell
Historical Gothic Horror
Publisher:  Penguin
Published:  6.18.19
ISBN:  0143134051
Pages:  368
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Format:  Trade Paperback
Source:  Publisher
Sellers:  Amazon   Barnes& Noble   Kobo:

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.

Sophia Rose's Review

After devouring The Silent Companions and never looking at dolls the same way again as a result, I picked up this new historical Gothic horror from the author and cautiously tip-toed in.  I'm not one for straight up horror, but give me a good historical setting full of atmosphere and toss in some old-style Gothic Victorian age scare power and I'll take a chance.  If I thought her dolls were little terrors, I've learned what an innocuous bit of needle and thread can stir up.

Now, while the Silent Companions kept me riveted the whole read, this one did have some slow moments or times I got squeamish and needed a break.  I never had trouble laying it aside to do other things, but was still into it enough to pick it up again..  But, like I said, I got squeamish so some of me setting it aside was needing a break from the dark acts and the misery.  Which, yes, this is to be expected in a book with horror elements so I knew what I was to expect going in, but I had to pace myself with that part and even skim a little to make it through.  Those who enjoy horror would probably find this a light weight story, but it pushed me beyond my comfort zone.

The Poison Thread is not just horror.  The author did a fantastic amount of period research particularly on such subjects as phrenology (study of the shape of a person's head and how that can determine their traits and habits).  Let's just say that those of us with bumps behind our ears might have penchant for homicidal hobbies.  The author also gets into apprenticeships and how the life of an apprentice wasn't easy and the person was very much at the whim of the master who was teaching his or her trade.  The Poison Thread introduced a truly monstrous mistress who terribly abused the young people in her charge and made some of Dicken's poor and indigent seem downright fortunate.

The story has two female protagonists and alternates the chapters between them.  Wealthy gentlewoman Dorothea and poor maid, Ruth.  Ruth is awaiting trial for murder and Dorothea visits her in prison to hear her story and study her head as part of her ongoing tests using the science of phrenology.  She hopes to someday prevent people from committing violent or unlawful acts that land them in prison.  Ruth is only sixteen, but she is world weary and somewhat bemused by this sheltered, naive ideological Dorothea who listens and doesn't believe Ruth's fantastic story.  Ruth's story is where the graphic scenes of horror take place.  She's not a person that is easily liked, but I felt heartbroken that her whole life was miserable, it seemed and she never really caught a break.  Comparing these two young women's lives showed that neither did a thing to earn their fates, but yet they were tossed into two very different situations.

The author landed some big 'aha' moments in the end.  Things seemed to be cut and dry even with a fantastical element that may or may not have been real, but then a few tweaks and I was left stunned and the end was there while I was still processing the final twist.

All in all, it was a solid second outing and another fab blend of history and horror.  It wasn't atmospheric in the usual way for me or half as riveting and suspenseful as Silent Companions, but there were definitely a few moments when the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.  I can definitely recommend this author's books if you like your horror in a historical setting.

Author’s Bio:
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs.

Her first novel for Raven Books THE SILENT COMPANIONS won the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award 2018 and featured in both the Zoe Ball and Radio 2 Book Clubs. Other Gothic novels include THE CORSET (THE POISON THREAD in USA), BONE CHINA and THE SHAPE OF DARKNESS (2020)

Laura’s historical fiction about the Hanoverian monarchs, QUEEN OF BEDLAM and MISTRESS OF THE COURT, was published by Myrmidon.

Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.
Sophia’s Social Media Links:


  1. I love that this is sort of a weird blend of genre, definitely sounds interesting!

    1. It's just a little different and can be a great change up from the usual.

  2. This sure sounds like a good mix with the historical aspects and the horror.

    1. I think she does a great job blending the two. Hope you get the chance, Jenea!

  3. I have seen this one somewhere recently, hmmm, if I could remember library or not

    1. Don't you hate it when your memory fritzes out on books? :)

  4. I used to read a lot of horror but this would be more to my liking too.

    1. It does have a nice mystery to it blended with the historical and horror. :)

  5. yeah I'm not so much a horror fan Sophia Rose give me blood and guts by the truck load in a thriller/chiller but horror nope that makes my tummy hurt. Great review thanks Sophia Rose

    1. Haha! I know what you mean. I can't explain why one doesn't scare me in the least, but the other gets me squeamish and needing breaks or forced to skim. :)

  6. See and now you have me freaked out about dolls because seriously they can be so dang creepy without any input from others. lol

    1. Hehe! You are not just whistling Dixie. Dolls feature in too many horror movies and books not to be taken seriously as scary stuff. :)

  7. Great Review Sophia! I enjoy a horror story every now and then, and this sounds like a creepy and fascinating read. I like that you got some solid historical background and phrenology sounds interesting. I'm glad this was a solid read, even if you had to skim a bit from the squeamishness. This sounds like it'd be a great halloween read!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    1. I thought phrenology was interesting, too. Amazing about the theories about things like that in the past.