My thanks to Anne Cater, for the invitation to be part of this blog tour. The Fascination by Essie Fox, published by Orenda Publications and is available from the 22nd June.
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 dark web of deceits, exposing unthinkable secrets and threatening everything they know…
Our Author – Essie Fox
Essie Fox was born and raised in rural Herefordshire, which inspires much of her writing. After studying English Literature at Sheffield University, she moved to London where she worked for the Telegraph Sunday Magazine, and then book publishers George Allen & Unwin, before becoming self-employed in the world of art and design. Essie now spends her time writing historical gothic novels. Her debut, The Somnambulist, was shortlisted for the National Book Awards, and featured on Channel 4’s TV Book Club. The Last Days of Leda Grey, set in the early years of silent film, was selected as The Times Historical Book of the Month. Essie is also the creator of the popular blog: The Virtual Victorian. She has lectured on this era at the V&A, and the National Gallery in London.
My review – The Fascination – Essie Fox
I am always drawn to historical fiction and this book surpassed my expectations. The wonderfully descriptive text that Essie Fox conjures up, sets the scene so clearly in my mind, I am literally at the fair watching Alfred Lovell sell his miracle remedy. With his daughters Tilly and Keziah on the stage. Keziah is portraying a healthy girl who’s taken the liquid, where in reality she is the sister who has not consumed any and misleading the crowd. As in fact Keziah has not drunk her fathers sickly medicine, and is of normal size, but Tilly who hasn’t grown since the age of 5, is addicted to the very stuff that she’s helping her father sell.
Theo who’s grown up knowing manners and upkeep only wealth can bring, from his cruel and unloving grandfather – the ironically ill mannered Lord Seabrook. Who’s charm only comes to those he believes deserve it, by giving him what he desires return. Theo is not one of those he will gain anything from, and when a new heir to thr Seabrook name is born, Theo is turfed out of the family home and cast away with his nanny Miss Miller, who is seems has a history with Lord Seabrook also.
The girls were rescued that same night by ‘Captain’ and they then reside with him and their new ‘family’. Alexski, who’s warmth is initially hidden behind his exterior appearance. Martha also hides herself away, and yet can create the most beautiful of gowns and costumes, befitting the stage, which later Miss Tilly Lovell will tread.
When luck brings about a chance meeting of Theo and the Lovell sisters, when he tries to help them. He is struck by the pair of them so greatly, the impact of their meeting remains with him for many years, until they by chance meet again under strain full circumstances.
The characters too, are brought to life by their wonderful descriptions and ‘adventures’ they go through, throughout the books storyline. Keziah is complex, but dfull of fight and on the side of the righteous, a warm hearted caring soul who sees the good in those who care to show it. Tilly is sweet and clever, she may be small but mighty. Theo is full of pride and though hurt by his grandfather, he’s determined not to turn out like him and follow his dream. Together with Martha, Alexski and the Captain, they are a force to be reckoned with and their blended family may be unconventional, but they are united as one. A truly wonderful book from Essie Fox – I am already looking forward to many more.
To pre-order The Fascination https://bertsbooks.co.uk/product/the-fascination/