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Elijah's Mermaid

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  698 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
In this bewitching, sensual novel, Essie Fox has written another tale of obsessive love and betrayal, moving from the respectable worlds of Victorian art and literature, and into the shadowy demi-monde of brothels, asylums and freak show tents - a world in which nothing and no-one is quite what they seem to be.
Hardcover, 406 pages
Published November 8th 2012 by Orion Books (first published November 1st 2012)
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Jan 03, 2013 Blair rated it really liked it
Why did I decide to read Essie Fox's second novel when I found her first, The Somnambulist, distinctly average? I'm not sure, but I'm very glad I did, because this book is SO much better than her debut.

Elijah's Mermaid is set in mid-19th-century England and explores both sides of Victorian society: the cast of characters is split between the members of a comfortable, middle-class family and the inhabitants of a notorious brothel. More specifically, the story focuses on Pearl, an orphan raised in
Geraldine O'Hagan
Jan 29, 2013 Geraldine O'Hagan rated it it was ok
This is pretty much identical in every regard to Fox’s previous effort The Somnambulist: An insistent and yet tenuous link to a Pre-Raphaelite painting which is reproduced as the frontispiece, narrators who are simultaneously unrealistically knowing and suspiciously naïve, and a mound of Victoriana tropes and clichés presented with neither the skill or the humour necessary for the text to transcend their fundamental staleness and offer anything new or interesting to the reader.

We visit the stand

Damian Dubois
Jun 04, 2013 Damian Dubois rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, favorites
Let me just preface this review and simply say I loved everything about this book. I’ve always found there is something magical about the Victorian era but this can no doubt be put down to my own imagined and romanticised view of it based on the period dramas that I’ve either seen, read or heard.

Set during the mid 19th Century, the story revolves around a young girl by the name of Pearl, who as a baby was found floating abandoned upon the River Thames and having been rescued from drowning is rai
Mar 20, 2014 Vivienne rated it it was amazing
From its opening pages I found myself completely caught up in the rich world depicted in Essie Fox's second novel. I found I enjoyed it more than I did her début novel, The Somnambulist. Again, Essie Fox has taken her inspiration from a famous work of art: John William Woodhouse's A Mermaid (1900), even though the novel is set some years earlier in the mid-1860s onward.

The novel is narrated by Pearl and Lily in varying sections with other documents, such as Elijah's papers, being introduced whe
Nov 09, 2012 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"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 pr
May 24, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Original review posted on my blog:

I really liked Elijah’s Mermaid… once it got going. I’ll be really honest here and say that the slow start (for me, anyhow) was really the only thing that got me down about Fox’s novel. Other than that, the atmosphere, tension and brutally real descriptions were spot on and made Elijah’s Mermaid a very creepy book.

From the obsessive Osborne Black to the not-quite-right Uncle Freddie to (who can forget) the appalling chapt
Sep 01, 2014 Kirsten rated it it was ok
What a load of overblown, hysterical, improbable, over-long tosh.
I suppose the author stayed true to her Gothic Victorian genre, otherwise I pretty much loathed this book and everyone in it. It could have done with some serious pruning, good god it didn't half go on. By the end I found myself wishing they'd all go throw themselves in the Thames. Not recommended.
Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*
Essie Fox has created another outstanding Victorian world for me to pick myself up and plonk myself firmly in the midst of.

Elijah's Mermaid was a pick n mix of wonder, mystery and misery. I'm not going to go into what the story is about, you can see for yourself the basis of the story with other people's reviews and the blurb on Amazon and here on GR.

All I know is that this story is a logophiles dream! Such words! Such descriptions! I've learnt so, so much about living in Victorian times, and
Dec 01, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
"Will they find me again - those ghosts? Will they follow and watch when I walk on the water? Look! I am doing it now. You might think me mad to say such things but my thoughts are so clear as the beads of light that gleam on the stone of the obelisk, that sparkle like gems in bare branches of trees, so bright that I have to lift my hands to protect my eyes from the glare of the sun - the white jewel that has turned the whole wide world into this dreamland of ice and stone." Pearl

Elijah's Merma
Nadia Popescu
May 19, 2016 Nadia Popescu rated it it was amazing

Hand to heart, Essie Fox is by far my favorite contemporary author. This was the first encounter with her work and I admit I am hopelessly caught in her web of beautifully crafted words.
Elijah's Mermaid was entirely fantastic. For the first time in quite a while
I have a found a novel that drew me in to the point I forgot where I was.

The cover has such delicate and beautiful details that at first I mistakenly took it for a light fairytale work,solely because of that... but the novel broke my
Feb 28, 2013 Sienna rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2013
I want to preface this by saying straightaway that Elijah's Mermaid is a fascinating, well-researched, compelling book, and I heartily recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

It has taken thirty-two years to realize that I find it really awful to read about sexual violence. I'm either thick or an excellent gauge of my own taste, because it simply hasn't featured much in my reading experience. This novel doesn't actually contain much sexual violence. But the threat of it hangs over so much of
Jan 02, 2013 Jemimah rated it really liked it
I know that judging a book by its cover is generally an awful thing to do, but with this one it really pays off.

Elijah's Mermaid is a novel that stages the Gothic tropes of madness, obsession, passion and loss on the streets of Victorian London. All of the characters fall victim to these conditions to some degree, leading them from the respectable to the deranged and shameful. The narrative is told largely in the first person voices of Lily and Pearl, but is also interspersed with letters, diar
May 01, 2013 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox

Review by Amanda Donovan

Elijah’s Mermaid is a Gothic tale about an artist’s obsession, mermaids, water babies, madness and true love. It starts with the rescue of an unusual baby from the river Thames. Baby Pearl is taken to the local brothel to be cared for by Mrs Hibbert and the slimy Tip Thomas.

Essie Fox’s descriptive writing takes the reader into the heart of Victorian London. She shows the contrast between the upper classes and London’s darker, seedy side in de
Jo Barton
Aug 27, 2012 Jo Barton rated it really liked it
My thanks to newbooksmag for an advance copy to read and review.

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 demimondaine, 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
Marguerite Kaye
Jan 08, 2017 Marguerite Kaye rated it liked it
Victorian Gothic, an intricate story with a rich cast of characters and lots of plot twists, threaded through with some real and quite disturbing history.

This book is all of those things, and I'm struggling to articulate why it still didn't quite work for me. It's well-written, the ambiance is beautifully evoked, it's complex - but ultimately it left me a bit cold. As with her previous book, The Somnambulist, I struggled to empathise with the main characters. I never got to know or understand E
Becca (Pretty Little Memoirs)
Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox
Published by: Orion
Available: May 2013 in Paperback/Hardback/eBook 12.99

Elijah’s Mermaid was set in mid 19th Century London, England, where the setting is detailed as Victorian Gothic and bewitching; which I instantly noticed as the storyline progressed quickly. The story fixed on Pearl—an orphan raised in a brothel, and also focused on Lily and Elijah—twins, who live in the country with their grandfather, Augustus Lamb; a writer of fairytales. From the very start I
Debra Watkins
Nov 27, 2012 Debra Watkins rated it it was amazing
I loved this book almost as much as I loved her debut 'The Somnambulist' and not least because I am acquainted with the author. I'm a huge fan of gothic fiction, historical fiction and basically anything which is set in Victorian London so admittedly this book was a winner before I started the first page.
With lavish imagery such as the 'House of The Mermaids', (A London brothel where the novel is partly set), the reader is immediately transported back in time. In fact, many times when I had to p
Kate Mayfield
Jan 02, 2013 Kate Mayfield rated it it was amazing
The fusion of two or more toes, syndactyly, commonly known as webbed feet,
is the condition in which the aptly named Pearl enters the dark world author
Essie Fox has created in her second Victorian novel, Elijah's Mermaid.

Characters both sympathetic and loathsome fill the pages, and if you're
looking to read a book with a memorable villain, this is your intriguing
winter read by the fire.

As the danger and drama accelerates, the author convincingly leads the
reader through the turns and spins of each
Elizabeth Moffat
Apr 08, 2013 Elizabeth Moffat rated it liked it
I enjoyed the debut novel - The Somnambulist by this author so I was intrigued to see what her latest offering would be like. The descriptive prose was beautiful and the author has such an eye for detail, especially in character that I could visualize the foul Tip Thomas, the mysterious veiled Mrs Hibbert and the troubled Osborne Black. My only gripe with this novel is that the ending felt slightly forced, in that it could have been rounded up earlier.

Please see my full review at http://www.bibl
Jun 08, 2016 Sue rated it liked it
I started this book off not really knowing what to expect, but the story got better as it went along and i got immersed in the story of Elijah and Pearl. i liked the way each chapter was a different characters point of view and story line and it really captured the victorian era (one of my favourite era's). i also liked the historical facts and notes about where Essie Fox got her ideas from, i liked that it was a nice touch. this is the second book by Fox i have read and will read the other one ...more
Jan 09, 2016 Alexmariee rated it really liked it
More like 4.5! Excellent book right until the end where I felt things were rushed and weren't really needed
Jan 04, 2015 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Loved this so much!!
I didn't want it to finish, the writing style is so lkadsjaskdj
I'll be reading more of Essie Fox's books!
Jun 19, 2015 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, very atmospheric, good settings & a believable twisty plot.
Nov 04, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
Chloe S
Oct 10, 2016 Chloe S rated it really liked it
Great book, very immersive. Multiple ways used to tell the story which broke it up in an exciting way. For me it read a bit like a diary, but i haven't read a first person book in a loooong time.
The way the book is written took me a little while to get into but once you get use to it, it flows nicely. Also i thought the characters were well developed and I became quite invested in them.
The only negative I would say is though the rounding up at the end of the novel was done very well, for me it
Sep 29, 2016 Kirsty rated it it was ok
The first part of the book begins in 1850, with a delightfully Victorian-esque chapter title, and proceeds to tell the reader of the stranger who rescued a baby after her mother had drowned herself in the River Thames. The narrative voice used is that of this baby, Pearl – ‘the bastard child saved by the river by Tip that night when my mother drowned herself for shame’ – who was brought up in a brothel by the rather whimsical name of The House of Mermaids. This was a ‘most prestigious Chelsea ab ...more
2.5/5 stars
Meet Lily and Elijah, twins who were raised by their grandfather. When they travel to London, a chance encounter with Pearl will change their lives forever, because Pearl is hardly an ordinary girl. She was raised in the house of mermaids, a famous brothel, and soon her virginity is to be auctioned. The brothel keepers are sure that she will raise quite a sum because of her beauty and her webbed toes. Who doesn’t want to buy a mermaid?
I liked this book more than ‘the Somnambulist’, t
Kelsi H
May 05, 2015 Kelsi H rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Please check out all my reviews at!

Elijah’s Mermaid is an extremely well-researched historical novel – as evidenced by the extensive end notes – but it is perhaps too obviously researched, too self-consciously Victorian. While it has many classic Gothic elements (visions of horror, a woman in distress at the hands of a tyrannical male character), it just wasn’t dark and atmospheric enough for me to really feel the Gothic creepiness. It was more like the author
Jan 09, 2015 Denver rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Previous to Elijah's Mermaid, I'd never read any of Essie Fox's work so I obviously can't compare this book to any others, as many seem to have done.
So, coming at this open-minded, I did enjoy the book, although I can't say I'd be bothered to read it again.
In a relative nutshell; I enjoyed the mermaid theme. I like those traditional fairytales such as Hans Christian Andersen, and the way they were incorporated within a story based initially in a brothel is a well placed juxtaposition. I also lik
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My latest novel, The Last Days of Leda Grey is about an Edwardian silent film actress who has lived in a crumbling cliff top house for more than half a century, until she confides her story to the journalist, Ed Peters ... who rapidly finds himself immersed inside her dark and eerie world.

I've also written three Victorian novels, the first of which - The Somnambulist - was shortlisted for the UK
More about Essie Fox...

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