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 detail. Chapters alternate between Lily and Pearl’s point of views. Pearl’s seedy upbringing in the brothel contrasts with Lily and Elijah’s happy childhood in the country. The author creates a wonderful, strong relationship between the twins and knits the two sides of the story together with skill.
The characters are well-rounded and original. I enjoyed the relationship between the twins and could feel Lily’s pain when Elijah left. This is down to the author’s skill with description.
When Elijah leaves home to pursue a photography career with the artist, Osborne Black, the pace quickens and the plot becomes darker and entwined with jealousy, fear, Gothic madness and lust.
There are many descriptive paragraphs which may put some readers off, but once it picks up pace and tension in the middle, it is hard to put down. I felt scared for Elijah and horrified for Pearl. This book is a must read for all Gothic fiction fans.