• Mel Leslie

The Poison Thread

Updated: Mar 30


The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell was my first gothic novel. Set in English Victorian times, wealthy heiress Dorothea Truelove volunteers at the women's prison and studies phrenology, the study of the shape and size of a person's skull to indicate their character traits. Dorothea meets Ruth Butterham, a young girl who is accused of murdering her mistress. Ruth is a troubled soul who has experienced horrendous situations and believes she possesses the ability to transfer her troubled thoughts into the garments she sews, inflicting harm on whoever wears them. Dorothea becomes obsessed with Ruth and tries to help her rehabilitate Ruth's mind and further her studies. Dorothea visits Ruth at the prison and listens to Ruth's story. She tries to uncover what exactly happened between Ruth and her mistress and if Ruth's theories about her sewing curse could really be true.


This book was dark, twisted, and addicting. The first few chapters are an adjustment if you are not used to gothic novels. The story is set in the 1800's, thus the language and customs are different and takes some getting used to. The Poison Thread is told from Dorothea and Ruth's perspectives and alternates each chapter. Dorothea is an educated young woman who hides the fact that she studies phrenology from her father. He wishes she acted more like a lady and wants her to settle down with a husband. Ruth's back story is tragic and heartbreaking. She lived with her family in poverty and a set of unfortunate and horrible experiences happen to her, which led her to where she is. Ruth has a talent for sewing and believes that when people around her are hurt, they were around one of her sewn garments. As silly as this sounds, Ruth truly believes it and the story unfolds from there.


This is not a feel good story, but wow, is it incredible. It falls somewhere in the realm of thriller/horror books. Some of the storyline was very dark and sinister, but my black heart absolutely loved it. I could not put this one down and read late into the night many evenings, falling asleep with this book in my hands. I loved the gothic nature of the novel and it's haunting prose. I found this one randomly at the library. After a quick scan of the synopsis, I figured why not, and added it to my library haul. The Poison Thread did not disappoint and it was a fun one to discuss with one of my bookstagram friends who equally loved it.


I gave The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell a solid ★★★★★ review. If you enjoy reading thrillers, you will love this one. The Victorian style writing might throw you off at first, but I guarantee you will get used to it and end up loving the story. This one is creepy, twisted, and incredibly haunting.


Does anyone else enjoy gothic novels? I want to check out The Silent Companion by this author, but want to add more gothic thrillers to my TBR list. Let me know in the comments below!

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