The Fascination



The estranged grandson of a wealthy collector of human curiosities becomes fascinated with teenaged twin sisters, leading them into a web of dark obsessions. A dazzlingly dark gothic novel from the bestselling author of The Somnambulist.
'Makes skilful use of the tropes of Victorian gothic fiction… a story of society’s outsiders seeking acceptance and redemption' Sunday Times Book of the Month

‘Mysterious, sometimes shocking, full of surprises and twists … brimming with Victorian wonders!’ Sean Lusk

‘A magical, macabre masterpiece’ A.J. West
‘Fascinating and immersive’ Anna Mazzola


Victorian England. A world of rural fairgrounds and glamorous London theatres. A world of dark secrets and deadly obsessions…

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 web of deceits, exposing the darkest secrets and threatening everything they know…

Exploring universal themes of love and loss, the power of redemption and what it means to be unique, The Fascination is an evocative, glittering and bewitching gothic novel that brings alive Victorian London – and darkness and deception that lies beneath…
‘Essie Fox follows in the footsteps of Angela Carter and AS Byatt with an adult fairy tale that delves into the darkest compulsions of human nature …  an opium trance of a novel, a vivid fantasmagoria’ Noel O’Reilly
‘Deliciously dark, full of twists and surprises’ Liz Hyder
‘Filled with gothic darkness and glorious hope’ Liz Fenwick
‘Rich, dark and heady … a glorious gothic carnival’ Kate Griffin
‘Truly unexpected and original’ Kate Forsyth
‘Beautifully researched, full of horrors and delights … a chilling, thrilling slice of Victorian gothic’ Bridget Walsh

‘A cast of characters Dickens would be proud of’ Frances Quinn
‘A dizzying potion of a novel’ Polly Crosby
‘A twisty, gothic treat … wild and wonderful cast of characters’ Rebecca John
‘Rich in peril, tempered with strange, theatrical beauty’ Kate Mascarenhas
‘A wonderful, captivating carnival’ Elizabeth Fremantle
‘Haunting and emotive’ Gill Paul
‘A gorgeously gothic slice of Victoriana’ Katherine Clements
‘Beautifully controlled … exceptional storytelling, exquisitely told’ Nydia Hetherington

‘A beautiful, haunting tale peopled by a thrilling set of living, breathing characters … very fine historical fiction’ Emma Carroll

‘So inventive and surprising … beautiful writing, unforgettable characters’ Juliet West
A sumptuous, gothic treat that will reel you in and not let you go until the final page. Bravo!’ Caroline Green
‘Essie Fox is the mistress of gothic Victoriana … utterly beguiling and rendered in exquisite detail … a wonderful, captivating carnival of a novel’ Elizabeth Fremantle
‘Wonderfully vivid and touching … extraordinary’ Adele Geras
‘I loved this story of a group of wonderful “others” fighting to find their place and purpose in a glittering, but unforgiving, Victorian England’ Marika Cobbold
Atmospheric, gripping and ultimately uplifting’ Karen Coles
‘Richly detailed, beautifully written … a fascinating read’ Michael J Malone
‘The very best kind of gothic’ Lianne Dillsworth
‘Masterful’ Louise Swanson

‘A kaleidoscopic, twisting, devilish novel guaranteed to dazzle and delight. I was utterly beguiled’ Dan Bassett, Bookseller

Product Details

£16.99  £16.14
Orenda Books
Publish Date

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