The Whispering Muse

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.

 

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Coming February 2023

Laura Purcell does creeping menace like no one else.

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The Silent Companions

Winner of the 2018 WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award, this novel was also short-listed for the Goldsboro Glass Bell and featured on the Radio 2 and Zoe Ball ITV book clubs.

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Some doors are locked for a reason…

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…

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The Corset

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she finds herself drawn to Ruth, a teenage seamstress – and self-confessed murderess – who nurses a dark and uncanny secret. A secret that is leading her straight to the gallows. As Ruth reveals her disturbing past to Dorothea, the fates of these two women entwine, and with every revelation, a new layer of doubt is cast…

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

**THIS BOOK IS TITLED ‘THE POISON THREAD’ IN THE USA**

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Bone China

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.

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…

**THIS BOOK IS TITLED ‘THE HOUSE OF WHISPERS’ IN THE USA**

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The Shape of Darkness

Winner of Historical Crime Book of the Year category at The Fingerprint Awards 2022. Shortlisted for an Edgar Award and a Dead Good Readers’ Award.

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A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.

Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

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Queen of Bedlam

London 1788. The calm order of Queen Charlotte s court is shattered by screams. The King of England is going mad. Left alone with thirteen children and with the country at war, Charlotte has to fight to hold her husband s throne. It is a time of unrest and revolutions but most of all Charlotte fears the King himself, someone she can no longer love or trust. She has lost her marriage to madness and there is nothing she can do except continue to do her royal duty.

Her six daughters are desperate to escape their palace asylum. Their only chance lies in a good marriage, but no prince wants the daughter of a madman. They are forced to take love wherever they can find it, with devastating consequences.

The moving true story of George III’s madness and the women whose lives it destroyed.

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Mistress of the Court

Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne. Henrietta s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?

Whatever George s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit even if it costs her pride and her marriage. Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II’s reign.

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Phantoms

Laura’s short story ‘Cameo’ features in this collection.

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The brightest names in horror showcase a ghastly collection of eighteen ghost stories that will have you watching over your shoulder, heart racing at every bump in the night. In “My Life in Politics” by M.R. Carey the spirits of those without a voice refuse to let a politician keep them silent. In “The Adjoining Room” by A.K. Benedict a woman finds her hotel neighbour trapped and screaming behind a door that doesn’t exist. George Mann’s “The Restoration” sees a young artist become obsessed with returning a forgotten painting to its former glory, even if it kills her. And Laura Purcell’s “Cameo” shows that the parting gift of a loved one can have far darker consequences than ever imagined… These unsettling tales from the some of the best modern horror writers will send a chill down your spine like someone has walked over your grave… or perhaps just woken up in their own.

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After Sundown

Laura’s short story ‘Creeping Ivy’ features in this collection.

 

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This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. It is the first of what will hopefully become an annual, non-themed horror anthology of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer.

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The Haunting Season

Laura’s short story ‘The Chillingham Chair’ features in this Sunday Times bestselling collection.

 

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Winter, with its unsettling blend of the cosy and the sinister, has long been a popular time for gathering by the bright flame of a candle, or the warm crackling of a fire, and swapping stories of ghosts and strange happenings.

Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors – master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre – bring this time-honoured tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding collection of new and original haunted tales.

From a bustling Covent Garden Christmas market to the frosty moors of Yorkshire, from a country estate with a dreadful secret, to a London mansion where a beautiful girl lies frozen in death, these are stories to make your hair stand on end, send shivers down your spine and to serve as your indispensable companion to the long nights of winter.

So curl up, light a candle, and fall under the spell of The Haunting Season

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Homeless Bodies and Other Stories

Laura’s story ‘Vanitas’ features in this Audible original podcast.

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Homeless Bodies and Other Stories is an original fiction podcast featuring audio-exclusive short stories from award-winning authors and Sunday Times best-sellers, inspired by objects & artefacts from Wellcome Collection’s permanent exhibition, ‘Medicine Man’, in London.

Exploring themes of otherness, humanity, history, society and belief, Homeless Bodies and Other Stories brings together a gripping collection of tales that are unsettlingly eerie and provokingly current. Objects that inspired Audible’s collection of stories include: a trepanned skull, drilled with holes to release trapped spirits; an iron scold’s bridle, used to punish “˜gossiping’ women; a 19th Century fragment of tattooed skin; a phrenology skull and an 18th Century wax vanitas head.

With six original, audio-exclusive stories, the collection includes brand new writing from: Imogen Hermes Gowar, Andrew Michael Hurley, Laura Purcell, Sarah Moss, Oyinkan Braithwaite and Haroun Khan.

Homeless Bodies and Other Stories sees these six authors probe the dark and twisted corners of humanity in an attempt to better understand ourselves and our place in the world with stories crafted specifically for the spoken-word. Before their stories, listeners will hear each of the authors in conversation with Wellcome’s curators as they find out more about their chosen object’s history.

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Roanoke Falls

Original podcast written for Realm, executive produced by John Carpenter and Sandy King Carpenter

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Something is punishing the people of Roanoke with blood…if you have sinned, beware.
1587, North Carolina: Agnes is a reluctant settler in Roanoke, forced to leave England with her preacher husband, Thomas, in search of a better life. But the first colony failed, and Agnes fears this one will suffer the same fate: lack of resources, frigid cold, starvation.

So when a series of ritualistic murders occur in the colony, Agnes finally feels connected to a purpose: to find the monster and protect her community. That is, until people suspect that witchcraft is to blame, and question Agnes’ childlessness as well as her connection to the dead. As the killings escalate and the colony teeters on the edge of ruin, Agnes must go to impossible lengths to save herself— or she will burn.

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