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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read.
'Elijah's Mermaid' is the story of three people, the twins, Elijah and Lily, and Pearl, a baby found in the Thames river following her mother's suicide. Elijah and Lily lives begin in the Foundling Home where they abandoned by their mother after their birth, eventually the twins find their home with their grandfather, the father of their deceased father who died before...
Published 6 months ago by Paula Mc

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Visit the Victorian Underworld From the Safety of Your Armchair
A real cornucopia of Victoriana and peopled with some weird and wonderful characters, Essie Fox's second novel 'Elijah's Mermaid' makes for an atmospheric read. Orphaned twins, Elijah and Lily are rescued from Coram's Foundling Hospital, by their writer grandfather, Augustus Lamb. The twins are brought up in Kingsland House, their grandfather's delightful country home,...
Published on 9 Nov 2012 by Susie B


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read., 4 Jun 2014
By 
Paula Mc (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Kindle Edition)
'Elijah's Mermaid' is the story of three people, the twins, Elijah and Lily, and Pearl, a baby found in the Thames river following her mother's suicide. Elijah and Lily lives begin in the Foundling Home where they abandoned by their mother after their birth, eventually the twins find their home with their grandfather, the father of their deceased father who died before their birth which led to their mother leaving her home in shame and subsequently disappearing.

Whilst Elijah and Lily have a settled and loving childhood, Pearl is brought up in a brothel where she is shown as 'The Mermaid' due to her web toes. Pearl is protected and raised by Mrs Hibbert, a woman shrouded in black which hides her face from the world. Pearl's life changes as her fourteenth birthday approaches, she is told by the sinister Tip Thomas that she will be sold to the highest bidder. Pearl finds herself sold to Osborne Black, an obsessive artist who wants Pearl for a specific reason. As the story progresses the three characters come together and find out how they are all connected.

'Elijah's Mermaid' was a pleasant surprise because I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. There were parts which I found hard to believe but the story works well and I loved the description of Victorian London. Pearl was my favourite character, at times whilst reading I did think (and wish) that she would get some backbone but as the story progresses Pearl changes and its a positive change. The twins, Elijah and Lily were interesting to read but due to their childhood, they both seemed unaware of the world around them which frustrated me. The rest of the characters are also well written especially Tip Thomas, who actually makes your flesh crawl as you read.

An interesting read and I hope to read more by Essie Fox.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Visit the Victorian Underworld From the Safety of Your Armchair, 9 Nov 2012
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Hardcover)
A real cornucopia of Victoriana and peopled with some weird and wonderful characters, Essie Fox's second novel 'Elijah's Mermaid' makes for an atmospheric read. Orphaned twins, Elijah and Lily are rescued from Coram's Foundling Hospital, by their writer grandfather, Augustus Lamb. The twins are brought up in Kingsland House, their grandfather's delightful country home, cocooned from the outside world, listening to Augustus's stories about fairies, hunting for "treasure and magic things" and dreaming about mermaids with golden hair. Meanwhile, in London, a beautiful web-toed baby is found floating in the Thames one dank, foggy night and taken to the House of Mermaids, a brothel, where she is raised in luxury by the Madame of the house, Mrs Hibbert. The child is given the name Pearl and is cared for lovingly by Mrs Hibbert, or at least she is until she reaches her fourteenth birthday, when she is made aware that she and her virginity are to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Shortly before the auction, the paths of Pearl and the Lamb twins cross by chance, when Elijah and Lily come to London, where Elijah is struck by Pearl's luminous beauty, falling in love with her after just a glance. But Pearl is not destined to be Elijah's mermaid, for she is soon sold off to an eccentric artist, who is delighted to find his very own mermaid and muse. A few years later, Elijah meets up with Pearl again when he has become a talented photographer and has been offered a job in London. But soon after arriving in London, Elijah disappears and when no news about his whereabouts reaches his sister and grandfather, Lily realizes that she will have to travel to London herself, in order to discover what fate has befallen her beloved brother. (No spoilers - there is plenty more for prospective readers to uncover).

Inspired by Charles Kingsley's 'The Water Babies' and with the motif of water ever present, this attractively presented novel is written in a mixed media method, with first-person narratives from the perspectives of Pearl and Lily, diary entries from Elijah and a selection of newspaper articles and letters. Essie Fox has researched her subject well and includes an appendix at the end of the book informing the reader of the real life characters and places that inspired her novel and she also includes a list of Victorian slang words (which, on reflection, might have been more useful if placed at the beginning of the novel).

I haven't read Essie Fox's previous novel: The Somnambulist - in fact this book was given to me as a present and, having heard the author being compared with Wilkie Collins and Sarah Waters, I thought that Essie Fox would have a lot to live up to. Well, 'Elijah's Mermaid' may be an atmospheric story, but I do have to say that I found parts of it a little contrived and I must say that I found the writing rather overblown at times; however that said, Essie Fox's enthusiasm for her subject is evident and her Victorian world is descriptively vivid, so many readers may find it easy to become pulled into this story of secrets, obsessive love, duplicity and betrayal. If you are in the mood to be seduced by some Victorian-style sensationalism and want to spend a little time in the Victorian underworld from the safety of your armchair, then 'Elijah's Mermaid' may be just what you are looking for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling tale of love and betrayal in murky Victorian London, 21 May 2014
This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Kindle Edition)
Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox is a thrilling tale of love and betrayal which sweeps the reader through 19th century England, from London’s murky brothels to the contrasting upper-class society. The novel follows Lily and Elijah, orphaned twins who are taken to live with their grandfather on a prosperous estate, and Pearl, and orphan who grows up in a brothel being groomed for life as a prostitute. A chance meeting of all three in a freak show tent leads to their very different lives becoming entwined.

Without giving too much away about the book, the story is told from two perspectives – Lily and Pearl’s – and follows the twists and turns in their lives as they grow up. I do feel it’s a shame that there isn’t another part told from Elijah’s perspective, but the mixed-media style, with its inclusion of newspaper cuttings and diary entries, gives alternative accounts of events and offers the reader a small insight into various other character’s experiences, including Elijah’s.

I was a little disappointed that all the females in the novel seemed very much to be victims of the ‘stronger’, domineering males – put perhaps this simply reflects the situation most women were in at the time, particularly when considering the way women were treated as the weaker, unstable sex.

One of the things I loved about reading this novel is the bizarre, often unsettling images Fox includes – from the misshapen physical manifestations of syphilis to the shrivelled mermaid and the awful treatment of women medically in mental institutions.

Although at times I felt the story lost its focus at points, Fox writes with suspense, painting a picture of what Victorian London’s gloomy underbelly was like for all walks of life without being excessively descriptive, resulting in a dark and unsettling social commentary that surely cannot fail to capture the imagination!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An atmospheric novel of darkness and delusion, 24 Oct 2013
This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Kindle Edition)
Elijah's Mermaid by Essie Fox explores the all consuming nature of obsession in the pursuit of perfection, until reason is lost and morality dies.

Pearl is the jewel in the crown of the House of Mermaids, a notorious brothel in Victorian London, 'a glittering palace of dreams'.

As a baby, Pearl was carried to the House on a tide of misery.

An unusual child with webbed feet and astonishing beauty, Pearl is cosseted and looked after, brought up on tales that she was sent to the House by the 'mermaids' of the Thames.

Until her fourteenth birthday when she learns that she is to be sold off to the highest bidder.

Our introduction to Pearl is as a young confused adult, one who has had her sense of innocence torn away from her. Vile images writhe in her descriptions of her early life, her detached tone evoking a sense of the deep depression that resides within her.

Her fear is palpable.

Sensuous and dark, the prose flows through your senses gently like stream at first, before pulling you down into the murky depths of the The House of Mermaids.

Meanwhile, orphaned twins, Lily and Elijah, are adopted from a Foundling Hospital by their grandfather, author Augustus Lamb.

They grow up in the countryside and enjoy an idyllic childhood, sheltered from the world that Pearl resides in.

It is while on a visit to London that they first encounter Pearl.

A chance meeting that is set to change the direction of all their lives in the future, when the twins will enter a world where reality shifts like sand underfoot, unreliable, unsteady, ever changing.

A world where they won't know who to trust.

The warmth of the affection between the twins offers a direct contrast to the indifferent, cold cruelty that Pearl experiences at the hands of her new owner.

She is an object, his muse, his inspiration, a pure beauty to be possessed, controlled and obsessed over.

Elijah's Mermaid is an atmospheric novel of darkness and delusion, secrets and lies masked by the respectability of art and literature in Victorian England.

An intriguing study of mental breakdown, it also explores the frightening treatments on offer in unregulated asylums at the time, where the patients were objectified and the emphasis was on cruel experimentation and manipulation rather than cures.

Fox's passion for the Victorian period shines through the prose and the research that is documented at the back of the novel.

As with Fox's début novel - The Somnambulist - it is worth paying attention to the quotes above each chapter as each one will give you a sense of the direction that the story is moving in.

With thanks to Essie Fox who sent me a copy of Elijah's Mermaid.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully descriptive..., 8 Nov 2012
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Paperback)
In Elijah's mermaid, Essie Fox, has with Dickensian precision revealed a passionate story of obsessive love, and sordid betrayal. Beautifully descriptive, the highly regarded worlds of Victorian art and literature, meet the dark and repellent world of the demi-mondaine, in a story that abounds with duplicity, and scandalous intrigue.
Pearl has been brought up in the notorious brothel, The House of Mermaids, where she has been cosseted and pampered as a child of the house; however, as she nears her fourteenth birthday, she is aware that her innocence will be soon be sold to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, in a secluded country house, the twins Lily and Elijah, who were rescued as children from the Foundling Hospital, live in isolated splendour with their grandfather, the reclusive author Augustus Lamb. In an unexpected incident in London, Lily and Elijah, cross paths with Pearl, and the fickle finger of fate combines, to bind these characters together.
The dark and socially corrupt world of Victorian London is brought vividly to life, the narrative never falters, and the rich assortment of characters that flutter in and out of the story, add a fascinating glimpse into the shadowy world of the Victorian underclass.

I found much to enjoy in Elijah's Mermaid - it's a perfect book for a cold winter's evening.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully crafted Victorian mystery, 9 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Kindle Edition)
"Elijah's Mermaid" was an amazing novel to read. Like Fox's debut novel, "The Somnambulist", it is a gothic mystery set during the Victorian Era, but (other than the quality of the writing) the similarities go no further. "Elijah's Mermaid" is an entirely original piece of literature - I have never read a novel quite like it.

Stylistically, Fox is in a league of her own. As far as contemporary literature goes, I am yet to encounter a novelist whose language is as poetic. The theme of water was present throughout the novel, which was enhanced by the natural, graceful flow of the prose. The imagery is rich and beautiful.

However, there is just as much darkness as beauty in this novel, and on occasions the two intermingle. As well as their idyllic childhood in the countryside, raised by the celebrated novelist Augustus Lamb, the twins (Lily & the eponymous Elijah) must also navigate their way through the criminal underbelly of Victorian London. Drugs, crime, prostitution, insanity - it's all there, and each horror is dealt with masterfully. What makes the more terrifying aspects of this novel so effective is that, through the eyes of Pearl, they are perceived as a part of her everyday life, if not normal.

The novel is also an insightful reflection upon Victorian society; all too easy to understand how a stroke of misfortune could lead to ruin. There was nothing difficult about having a troublesome relative committed to an insane asylum, especially if she was female, and there were never so many steps down to prostitution as one would like to believe. "Elijah's Mermaid" is harrowing in places, and the first person narration enhances the experience.

Fox's characterisation is spot on. Lily's love for her brother, the urgency with which she tries to find him - all of it is real. The family dynamic between the twins and their Papa - Augustus - is also entirely convincing. Without such realistic relationships between characters, the astonishing chain of convents could not have been so compelling.

I could scarcely bring myself to put this book down. The plot is full of twists and turns that are never predictable, although always believable. The language is as stunning as the art detailed, both the paintings and the children's stories. The characters are absolutely vivid - I doubt I will ever forget them. This book bowled me over - its conclusion left me reeling. Whether or not this is a genre with which you are experienced, I recommend "Elijah's Mermaid" wholeheartedly.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dissapointed, 5 July 2013
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This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Kindle Edition)
It started out looking like a potentially good novel even if the prose was slow at times. From half way through I was finding it less and less enjoyable.

The narrative is mostly given by two of the main characters but also using newspaper articles, letters and a diary.

If the narrative is to given from more than one point of view then surely they need to be discernable. I would find myself asking "Who is this narrative given by" and I would have to check.

Some scenes and the reactions of individuals in those scenes didn't come across as particularly credible at times.

After what seemed a slow story at times it then seemed rushed in the ultimate "chapter".
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4.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of read, 10 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Kindle Edition)
Set in Victorian times this Gothic novel has an array of fantastic characters to match a Dickens's novel. I've always held a fascination for Victorian London underworld and Elijah's Mermaid didn't disappoint. I've taken a star off because I found Elijah's fascination with Pearl a little forced as I did the ending, which seemed just a tad too quick. Hopefully, there'll be a follow-up to hear how the three main characters survive into old age.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gothic, 22 April 2014
This review is from: Elijah's Mermaid (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this novel and will check out more of Fox's work as a result. It's not 'high-brow' literature but it's definitely not fluff. There is a complex plot even if it is slightly unrealistic. The characters are well-drawn though romanticized. The descriptions of Victorian London are wonderful and you can really feel the atmosphere of the novel. Although it's a long book it never feels superfluous. The ending is neither immediately obvious nor unbelievable though if you pay attention you will know where it is heading by halfway through although this isn't certain until almost the end. I was very impressed by the level of research done by the author and the accuracy of everything. If you're looking for intelligent escapism then I recommend this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eijah's Mermaid, 4 Mar 2014
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Easy to read held my attention with its mystery. relationships were very complicated and I would love to have heard a little more detail about their lives as they grew old.
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Elijah's Mermaid
Elijah's Mermaid by Essie Fox (Paperback - 9 May 2013)
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