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Elijah's Mermaid

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  966 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Saved from the Thames one foggy London night, Pearl grows up at the House of Mermaids - a brothel that becomes the closest thing to home. But despite being cosseted and spoiled by the Madame, come her 14th year, Pearl is to be sold to the highest bidder.

Orphaned twins Lily and Elijah are on a rare trip to London when they meet the ethereal Pearl. And the repercussions of t
Hardcover, 406 pages
Published November 8th 2012 by Orion Books (first published November 1st 2012)
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Leisah The book sinks the reader into the depths of the private life of females in the Victorian era. Highlighting social structure, patriarchal expectation …moreThe book sinks the reader into the depths of the private life of females in the Victorian era. Highlighting social structure, patriarchal expectation and hidden fortune. There is one 'mermaid'; Pearl, who has a body disfigurement and a social disfigurement caused by her social-status in life. The novel furthermore depicts Osborne Black as an artist while projecting the dark metanarrative of male obsession, psychosis and masculine obsession. (less)

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Average rating 3.49  · 
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Oct 11, 2012 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 16, 2013 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
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2013
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 ra
Dec 29, 2013 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
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
Oct 27, 2012 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
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
Nadia Popescu
Dec 10, 2015 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 m
Dec 27, 2012 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 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
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up in the thrift shop because I'm a sucker for a nautical theme. Really loved this story, cute but with an edge. Pearl is a orphan that grew up in a brothel. She meets with Lily and Elijah, also orphans, and she and Elijah fall in love. The book takes place in a Victorian-style setting.
The writing style is very poetic, but not distracting. It's historical fiction but in my opinion borders a bit on fantasy.
Kirsten Fleetwood
Jul 12, 2014 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.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, kindle
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
Aug 05, 2012 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
Beth (bibliobeth)
Mar 08, 2013 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
Chelsea Lowe
2.5 / 3 stars.

Ugh, I had such high hopes for this book. As someone who adores neo-Victorian writing - especially the ones that highlight the debauchery and underworld of Victorian society - I thought this book would be right up my street. The synopsis sounded incredible.

Sadly, however, I found it to be rather underwhelming.

I am really conflicted over this. On the one hand, I can appreciate the great depth of research, skill and thought that has gone into creating this novel. I am impressed by
Feb 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Far too many twists and turns in the last few pages. The mermaid theme was well and truly done to death - less is more!
Oct 19, 2012 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
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 10, 2019 added it
Did not finish.

Either write in the accurate fat-appreciation of the time period, or don't at all. Especially don't mix your own fat-phobic views of fat women with the entirely different views of the time.

don't call a woman Rubenesque then describe her "giant hams of arms", ffs my dudes.
Marguerite Kaye
Jan 08, 2017 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 ♥︎
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
Kate Mayfield
Jan 02, 2013 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
May 31, 2016 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
Feb 12, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english, 2019
DNF February 2019 13% (page 51/387)

I thought I would love this, but the long complicated sentences & overly descriptive writing take away from (my ability to get into) the story.

(Also naming a character Ellen Page is not helping as every time I read the name I think of the actress and not your character.)
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Dec 14, 2014 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!
Jan 01, 2016 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 ...more
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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

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