BOOK REVIEW: Bone China by Laura Purcell

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 need, 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 just be as dangerous as her last.

Publisher: Raven Books
Pages: 448

I am a huge fan of Laura Purcell’s writing and I loved her first two books, The Silent Companions and The Corset. Gothic fiction is one of my favourite genres and Bone China showcases Purcell’s talent in this arena yet again. 
Bone China is set in Cornwall so the comparisons with Daphne Du Maurier are unavoidable. They are very different though, both play on superstitions but I think Purcell plays on the reader’s fears more, her narratives are a little darker. 
Hester Why has arrived at Morvoren House which is set on the Cornish cliffs. She is to care for Louise Pinecroft, an elderly lady, partly paralysed and mainly mute. Hester has her own demons and she believes this to be her escape but she is so wrong. The house holds many secrets, Miss Pinecroft has a female ward who is locked away all day. Hester had not even been told of her existence. The house is full of strange noises and the staff persist in talking about the ‘little people’ who come in the night. 
The story flits between Hester and Louise Pinecroft forty years ago and we begin to learn how she has ended up so isolated and fearful. Hester has done some bad things and she sees Louise as a way of righting some wrongs. She is determined to help her new mistress but does she have any idea what she is up against?
Bone China is packed full of suspense and superstition. Changelings are a big theme and I found this fascinating. The idea that a fairy comes in the night and takes a person but leaves behind a replica. Fairies sound harmless but there is a very sinister edge in this book, steeped in Cornish folklore passed down from generation to generation.
Hester and Louise are very different people yet they have both been driven to try and right some wrong they feel they have done. Laura Purcell is masteful in the way she builds suspense. She builds it up with small details and events and then suddenly a situation is out of control and you are going along for the ride.
I can highly recommend Bone China, it is beautifully written and I’m already to see what Laura Purcell does next.

Many thanks to Raven for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley. 

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