Saturday, June 3, 2023

A Review: The Fascination By Essie Fox


Victorian England. A world of rural fairgrounds and glamorous London theatres. A world of dark secrets and deadly obsessions…

Twin sisters Keziah and Tilly Lovell are identical in every way, except that Tilly hasn’t grown a single inch since she was five. Coerced into promoting their father’s quack elixir as they tour the country fairgrounds, at the age of fifteen the girls are sold to a mysterious Italian known as ‘Captain’.

Theo is an orphan, raised by his grandfather, Lord Seabrook, a man who has a dark interest in anatomical freaks and other curiosities … particularly the human kind. Resenting his grandson for his mother’s death in childbirth, when Seabrook remarries and a new heir is produced, Theo is forced to leave home without a penny to his name.

Theo finds employment in Dr Summerwell’s Museum of Anatomy in London, and here he meets Captain and his theatrical ‘family’ of performers, freaks and outcasts.

But it is Theo’s fascination with Tilly and Keziah that will lead all of them into a web of deceits, exposing the darkest secrets and threatening everything they know… 

Source: Review copy
Publication: 22nd June 2023 from Orenda Books
PP: 300
ISBN-13: 978-1914585524

Many thanks to Orenda Books for my eArc!

'The evening nightingales are singing. 
The month of August lit with gold;
I still keep the rose you gave me,
I watch its red silk heart unfold.

The breath of rose, the sound of bird's song
Are ever tangled with romance.
Tis my pleasure to remember;
The day when you first came to me...'

The Fascination is filled with darkness and depravity at every turn where children like Theo and twin sisters Keziah and Tilly Lovell are at the hands of parents and grandparents who are supposed to care for them and guide them through life. Well, forget it. Throw all sense of sympathy, empathy and sensitivitiy out the window while you read this Victorian gothic kaliediscope of a novel. 

After reading and reviewing all of the author's works, Essie Fox has done it. I am finally speechless and in awe of what she has created. The Fascination is beautifully written about two different families, The Seabrook's and The Lovell's living their lives without any real love and care from anyone around them. If only their loved ones could accept them for their differences instead of profiting off of them, it would be a different novel.

The Fascination was a very emotional novel to read. Definitely, a page turner. I loved the atmosphere and descriptions of the gardens and walking outside and around Lord Seabrook's home. In the end, all I wanted to do was scoop up all the children and take care of them.  However, what made me smile was how Essie Fox used excerpts of Brothers Grimm, Snow-White and Red-Rose a beautiful fairy tale throughout chapters of the novel. I did not miss the description of a painting by Millais on the wall, mentions of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins' A Woman in White. 

For more information or to pre-order a copy, Orenda Books




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