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.

Laura Purcell is another author that I encountered due to Granite Noir and she has a nice line in gothic stylings, her books have a bit of darkness with just the merest hint of the supernatural or macabre.

As someone who works I a theatre then there’s something satisfying about the setting that much of the action takes place in. As in any good gothic novel the atmosphere is brooding but it adds to the story rather than overshadowing it as sometimes happens in this kind of book, the story is what matters rather than the feeling.  The characterization worked enough that I didn’t feel the story was just a backdrop to the people but at the same time I had enough that I found I was interested and cared about the characters enough that I always wanted to see what would happen next!

I enjoyed the conceit of the book being split into acts, and there’s a theatrical vibe that chimes with the setting. I really liked this, and it may be my favourite Laura Purcell book yet – if you like your books to be atmospheric with a hint of spooky, then this will be worth you talking a chance on it!

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