GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Historical Mystery
Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.
Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Laura Purcell is fast becoming one of my auto-buy authors.
Much like her debut, The Silent Companions and her previous novel, The Corset, Bone China is gothicly atmospheric and creepy period piece. Purcell perfectly manages to teeter on the edge of psychological horror and paranormal fantasy. In Bone China the elements at war against each other are guilt, grief and illness versus superstition and fairy changelings.
It’s hard to review this book without giving too much away: much like Purcell’s other books the mystery of what’s actually happening and what the character’s think is happening is crucial. The tension it creates as you wonder the true origins of the events is the stories greatest strength, and I wouldn’t want to give that away.
What I will say is that I found Bone China incredibly readable. Purcell has a beautiful writing style that completely captivates you.
In this particular novel, the setting is as central to the story as the characters. The ramshackle house, perched atop crashing waves and abandoned caves was so very clear in my mind’s eye while I was reading. The sense of isolation that our protagonist, Hester, experiences — both because of the house’s location, her own inner demons, and the insular community she enters — was a palpable feeling.
The only problem that I had with Bone China was a slight issue with the plotting and pacing. The novel has two timelines: Hester’s present-day POV and Louise’s POV from forty years previously.
For me, personally, the dual timeline would have worked better if they were woven together: maybe not exactly in alternating chapters but something closer to it. Instead, the first and last thirds of the book are Hester with the middle third giving Louise’s backstory. While I was reading Louise’s section I kind of forgot about and lost interest in what was happening to Hester. It felt a little like two entirely separate books. While Louise’s section is compelling and answers some of the questions that developed during the early stages of the novel, I still think that these two periods could have been more integrated.
Bone China straddles the psychological/supernatural divide throughout, keeping you on your toes and flipping pages. While I think I might have slightly preferred The Corset, I thought Bone China was a great place to start reading Purcell’s work.
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