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Elijah's Mermaid by [Fox, Essie]
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Elijah's Mermaid Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Review

Fox's vivid, sensual prose is - fittingly - as seductive as a siren's song, drawing you into a shadowy Victorian world of obsession and guilt... An intoxicating follow-up to 2011's acclaimed THE SOMNAMBULIST. Recommended to fans of Sarah Waters (HEAT)

Fox's story of obsessive love is memorable and unusual (SUNDAY TIMES)

The author behind the Virtual Victorian blog has followed up her Channel 4 Book Club choice THE SOMNAMBULIST with this Wilkie Collins-style sensation novel... An obvious comparison is with early Sarah Waters...The glee with which Fox approaches her material is infectious. All Victorian life is here ...Intriguing. (GUARDIAN)

A fabulous foray into a shadowy Victorian world (WOMAN AND HOME)

This is a modern Gothic novel with a beguiling story at its heart. Big themes of love, obsession, betrayal, tragedy and madness fill the pages, as a shadowy underworld collides with the art and literature elite. Fox weaves her story with dramatic style and allure, creating a cast of enticing characters and an intriguing plot that I couldn't get enough of (The White Company 'What We're Reading')

Transports us to the Victorian squalor of London's East End for a tale of illegitimacy, incest and theatricality with so many twists that you'll want to read it in one sitting (COSMOPOLITAN on the SOMNAMBULIST)

Vividly compelling, dark and dazzling (Katherine Webb on THE SOMNAMBULIST)

[THE SOMNAMBULIST] has taken me to new worlds, is riven with suspense, has made my imagination wander, and my fingers itch to turn the last page (JoJo Moyes)

Expose[s] the mouldy underbelly of Victoriana... the effect can be deliciously unsettling. (THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Weaving an intoxicating tale that is both sinister and seductive as it depicts passion, betrayal and obsessive love in every guise, the novel certainly captures the less-palatable aspects of Victorian society with sensuous conviction (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

Book Description

A bewitching historical gothic tale of obsessive love 'recommended to fans of Sarah Waters' [Heat] from the author of the highly acclaimed TV Book Club-selected THE SOMNAMBULIST.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3326 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (8 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GU35O16
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"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.
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Format: 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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