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The Fascination
The Fascination

The Fascination



300 Pages, 5 x 7.75

Formats: Cloth, EPUB

Cloth, $26.99 (US $26.99) (CA $35.99)

Publication Date: November 2023

ISBN 9781914585524

Rights: US & CA

Orenda Books (Nov 2023)


eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Price: $26.99


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

`An inventive slice of gothic fiction, big-hearted and full of strangeness´ The Times

`A dazzling kaleidoscope of darkness and light´ Laura Purcell

`A magical, macabre masterpiece´ A.J. West

`Brimming with Victorian wonders!´ Sean Lusk


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…


`Fascinating and immersive´ Anna Mazzola

`It had me spellbound´ Louisa Treger

`A wonderful, captivating carnival of a novel´ Elizabeth Fremantle

`Essie Fox’s best novel to date – weaves terrors with triumphs, heartache with hope´ Culturefly

`A scintillating cabinet of curiosities´ Foreword Reviews

`A cast of characters Dickens would be proud of´ Frances Quinn

`Rich, dark and heady … a glorious gothic carnival´ Kate Griffin

`Magnificent ... a triumph´ Dinah Jefferies

`A tender, beautifully written meditation on what it meant in Victorian times to be an outsider´ Historical Novel Society

`Darkly gothic, but surprisingly tender ... rendered with such magical and often terrifying authenticity. A marvel´ Damian Dibben

`Filled with gothic darkness and glorious hope´ Liz Fenwick

`Full of horrors and delights´ Bridget Walsh

‘An opium trance of a novel, a vivid fantasmagoria´ Noel O’Reilly

`Deliciously dark, full of twists and surprises´ Liz Hyder

`What a triumph!´ Emma Curtis

`Very fine historical fiction´ Emma Carroll

`Truly unexpected and original´ Kate Forsyth

`A dizzying potion of a novel´ Polly Crosby

`A sumptuous, gothic treat´ Caroline Green

`Exceptional storytelling´ Nydia Hetherington

`I loved this group of wonderful “others”´ Marika Cobbold

`An exquisite novel´ Erika Mailman

`Haunting and emotive´ Gill Paul


"This is an opium trance of a novel, a vivid fantasmagoria that delves into the Victorian obsession with freaks and outsiders. Sensual and darkly humorous, the novel has a timely message about learning to accept the other." —Noel O'Reilly, author of Wrecker.

"A sumptuous, Gothic treat that will reel you in and not let you go until the final page. Bravo!" —Caroline Green, author of The Whisper House.

"A dizzying potion of a novel. Take one sip and enter a world of colour and fear, of the grotesque and the gorgeous. A story about acceptance and family, and about love in all of its glorious forms." —Polly Crosby, author of The Illustrated Child and The Book of Hidden Wonders.

"What a read! Deliciously dark and Gothic, with a cast of characters Dickens would be proud of." —Frances Quinn, author of The Smallest Man.

"Makes skillful use of the tropes of Victorian gothic fiction… a story of society’s outsiders seeking acceptance and redemption."—The Sunday Times

"The Fascination features some downright nauseating imagery and some utterly bleak moments, and doesn't shy away from depicting diabolically bad behaviour ... This was an incredibly enjoyable read."—The Bookbag

“A historical novel that’s well worth the price of admission.” —Foreword Reviews

"This is Essie Fox’s best novel to date – one that weaves terrors with triumphs, heartache with hope. It’s a story of fairgrounds and theatre, of obsession and prejudice, but what lingers in the mind long after the book ends are the wonderfully multifaceted characters that make the story so beguiling."—CultureFly

"The Fascination is an inventive slice of gothic fiction, big-hearted and full of strangeness."—The Times

"This is a tender, beautifully written meditation on what it meant in Victorian times to be an outsider, or to be born different. In contrast to the ‘freakshows’ of the time that elevated the audience’s gaze and reduced those on display to that of the other, The Fascination takes as its subject those gazed upon and inspected and gives them agency instead." —Historical Novel Society

Author Biography

Essie Fox was born and raised in rural Herefordshire, which inspires much of her writing.

After studying English Literature at Sheffield University, she moved to London where she worked for the Telegraph Sunday Magazine, then the book publishers George Allen & Unwin – before becoming self-employed in the world of art and design.

Always an avid reader, Essie now spends her time writing historical gothic novels. Her debut, The Somnambulist, was shortlisted for the National Book Awards, and featured on Channel 4’s TV Book Club.