Monday, June 17, 2024

The Fascination by Essie Fox

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for the paperback release of Essie Fox's The Fascination!

Now, as part of my usual review, I like to write my own description. Life, however, had other plans for me with this one and I have to use the publisher info in order to get my post live! (Just a whole mess of appointments and scrambling to get a million things done, so this shaves just a smidge off of my blog posting time). 

Per the publisher:

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...

Set in Victorian London and centered around the fascination (see what I did there?) with "oddities," The Fascination is an absolutely lush and gorgeous novel! It's also quite dark at times (and yes, I recognize that saying it's gorgeous and then pointing out there are are unpleasant aspects is at odds, but the WRITING is lush and gorgeous). In fact, it's one of those fabulous releases that stylistically and tonally hits for readers of multiple genres! If you love historical fiction, gothic fiction, book club fiction...this is the book for you!

As you can imagine, there are a lot of characters to dislike in this book. But there are just as many to like and root for: Theo, who has been kicked out after the grandfather who raised him fathers a son of his own, and Keziah and Tilly, who are sold to a traveling show by their own father. Tilly is a performer, but one doomed never to grow over 3 feet. Which means being gawked and gawped at by a paying public. 

And yet Tilly and those like her, find a home and family in one another. It's a thought provoking story about what it means to "fit in" vs being an outsider; what family means; and so much more. 

Told from the perspectives of Theo and Keziah, Fox plunges the reader into the Victorian setting with vivid descriptions. Given the topic, there are, again, some unsettling elements. Overall, though, I'd say even those elements are there for a reason. And that reason is not only to experience the setting and story, but to allow the story to recognize how some things are reflected in real life even today.

Like I said, it's thought provoking!  

The Fascination is out now in the UK in both hardcover and paperback. The paperback will be hitting the States this fall. 

1 comment:

Anne said...

Thanks for the blog tour support x