Elijah's Mermaid
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Elijah's Mermaid

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  371 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Following the success of Essie Fox's highly acclaimed debut THE SOMNAMBULIST, this is a gloriously gothic new novel from one of the most talented historical writers around.

Since she was found as a baby, floating in the Thames one foggy night, the web-toed Pearl has been brought up in a brothel known as the House of Mermaids. Cosseted and pampered there, it is only when her...more
Hardcover, 406 pages
Published November 8th 2012 by Orion Books (first published November 1st 2012)
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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...more
Geraldine O'Hagan
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

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...more
Damian Dubois
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...more
Reading through the other reviews here, it seems that many people had trouble getting into this book but found it better later on. Surprisingly, I felt the complete opposite. I'm on a bit of a historical fiction kick at the moment and at the beginning I loved Fox's detailed and atmospheric descriptions of 19th century London. The premise seemed great and the characters and their backgrounds were intriguing.

I loved everything about the twins, Elijah and Lily, their backgrounds, their relationship...more
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...more
Original review posted on my blog: http://stephinlondon.com/2013/05/24/b...

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...more
"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...more
"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...more
Jo at Jaffareadstoo
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...more
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...more
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...more
Debra Watkins
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...more
Stacey Mitchell
I liked The Somnambulist, Fox's first novel, but I absolutely loved Elijah's Mermaid! This novel catapults the reader into the seedier side of Victorian London, and amongst the brothels, freak shows and asylums, we learn about the lives of Pearl, a web-toed girl found abandoned in the Thames, and the twins Lily and Elijah, rescued from the foundling hospital by their grandfather Augustus.

This is a novel about obsessive love in all its guises, from mild infatuation to all-out harmful addiction....more
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...more
Kate Mayfield
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...more
Elizabeth Moffat
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...more
Kerry Bridges
Elijah, Lily and Pearl are all orphans in Victorian London; but whilst Elijah and Lily are rescued from the foundling hospital by their grandfather - Augustus Lamb - Pearl is rescued from the Thames and taken to "The House of Mermaids", a nearby brother run by the elusive Mrs Hibbert and at the age of fourteen is sold to the highest bidder. That bidder is the artist, Osbourne Black, and from then on Pearl's life becomes entwined with that of the twins in an unimaginable nightmare.

I do like Victo...more
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 entw...more
'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 set...more
This is rather hard to rate and review. After taking some 10 days to read 150 pages I dropped it in favour of Night Waking, which I'd just found (and then loved). Feeling guilty, I picked this one up again after finishing Night Waking, and within a few dozen pages was hooked and really enjoyed the rest of it, reading it quickly and easily.

Can't really say why I didn't like it to begin with, but what I liked about the rest was that the story was told by different people, the characters themselves...more
I may not have been a fan of Essie Fox's 'The Somnambulist', but I wanted to give another book of hers a go, in hopes that I would share some of her fan's opinions. Unfortunately for this book, I wasn't much of a fan of this book either . . . which goes to say that I probably won't be reading anything else by the author, even though her books had so much potential and talk about the book's beautiful covers.

Like in Fox's previous book that I read, in 'Elijah's Mermaid', I was - for the majority o...more
George Allan
When I finished Elijah's Mermaid, I wrote a tweet straight away saying. What a wonderful dream and Gothic nightmare of a novel. Hypnotic, mesmerising and beautifully written. That doesn't do it justice. Elijah's Mermaid is a sensual story of deep secrets and obsession. From a brothel in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea called the House of Mermaids where Pearl, as a web toed baby, is brought up after being found on a foggy night floating on the Thames. Only to be sold to the highest bidder when she is fourte...more
Melissa Addey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
absolutely loved this book. Essie Fox is a really great author!

i have reviewed for lovereading.co.uk

As supplied to www.LoveReading.co.uk
Once again Essie Fox has written, in my view, a masterpiece. This book has all the elements essential to a great read. It has mystery and intrigue, romance, history, twists, turns and ultimately you can try and second guess the ending but you still find it’s different to how you expect. Love them or hate them, all the characters are pivotal to the story, there...more
James Rhodes
This is a beautifully crafted contemporary Victorian tale but my god does it plod along. The prose style is detached and full of the passive voice (as it would be in Victorian literature). However, there is none of the sentimentality that elevates most Victorian fiction. I can see why the author would want to avoid being overly schmoltsy for the modern reader but there is really very little to engage us with the characters and the vast thrust of the novel comes from its construction.

Another dra...more
Kate Forsyth
Elijah’s Mermaid is best described as a dark Gothic Victorian melodrama about the lives of two sets of orphans. One is the beautiful and wistful Pearl, found as a baby after her mother drowned in the Thames, and raised in a brothel with the rather whimsical name of The House of Mermaids. The other two are the twins Elijah and Lily, also abandoned, but lucky enough to be adopted by their grandfather, an author named Augustus Lamb.
The voices of Pearl and Lily alternate. At first Pearl’s voice is...more
Angela Buckley
‘Water is the strangest element, don’t you think? Sometimes it is quite magical…to take on so many varied forms.’ These are the words of Lily Lamb, a foundling who is adopted with her twin brother Elijah by their grandfather, writer Augustus Lamb. In this gripping novel, the changing waters of the river Thames takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through the twists and turns of a tale of possession, betrayal and hidden secrets.

Pearl is rescued from the murky waters of the Thames as an in...more
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I write dark gothic mysteries, all set in the Victorian era.

The Goddess and the Thief - with deposed Indian Maharajahs, Hindu gods and sacred diamonds, and Victorian seances in candlelit rooms - was published in December 2013.

Before that, I wrote The Somnambulist, which is set in the Victorian music halls and a secluded - perhaps haunted - country house. It appeared on Channel 4's TV Book Club and...more
More about Essie Fox...
The Somnambulist The Goddess and the Thief

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