Welcome to Essie Fox’s Victorian Gothic Novels

A darkly sensual novel, in which the worlds of Victorian art and literature merge with the sinister demi-monde.

“Hardcore Wilkie Collins … the pen of Mesmer.” THE LONDONIST

When Pearl, a web-toed baby, is found floating in the Thames, she’s taken to a brothel called The House of the Mermaids. There, she’s pampered and protected until she’s old enough to be sold to the highest bidder

Meanwhile, orphaned twins Elijah and Lily Lamb are visiting the Cremorne pleasure gardens when they meet the ethereal Pearl. The repercussions of this chance encounter will bind the trio together in a dark and dangerous way.

Bewitching, gothic, and sensual, this is a tale of love and betrayal in a world where nothing is quite what it seems.

Writing in The Guardian, Monique Roffey reviewed the novel as “an eerie Victorian tale touching on themes of sexuality, pornography, and child exploitation. It’s richly plotted, with a killer twist. Fox is a fine writer of historical fiction; the traditional faces of the mermaid (outsider, shape-shifter, siren, madwoman) come alive in her hands. Fox writing like the love child or Sarah Waters and Angela Carter.”

More visual inspiration, including a real house in Cheyne Walk where I based The House of the Mermaids, Cremorne Gardens where Pearl meets with Elijah and his sister, Lily, and some properties in Chiswick where more of the action is set



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