Welcome to Essie Fox’s Victorian Gothic Novels

A spellbinding tale of lost love, murder, and madness, that sweeps from the boisterous music halls of East London to a desolate Herefordshire mansion to reveal the darkest of secrets.


When seventeen year old Phoebe Turner visits Wilton’s Music Hall to watch her Aunt Cissy performing, she risks the wrath of her mother, who marches with the Hallelujah army and campaigns for all theatres and bars to be closed. While there, Phoebe meets a stranger, the enigmatic Nathaniel Samuels who soon heralds dramatic changes in the lives of all three women ~ after which Phoebe is offered the position of companion to his reclusive wife. With little choice in the matter, Phoebe leaves her East End home for the eerie isolation of a large house surrounded by woodlands. It is a house that may well be haunted, and one that holds the darkest of secrets, some including truths directly linked to Phoebe’s past.


Here’s Essie having a chance to view the painting that inspired her novel’s name and the theme of ‘sleepwalking’ ~ whether in reality or, in Phoebe’s case, due to being blind to the most obvious of truths, almost from the start of the novel.

The painting came up for auction at Sotheby’s the very week the novel was published, and that’s where this photograph was taken.

Some of the real places in the novel that you can still visit today


Deliciously unsettling. THE INDEPENDENT

Memorable and unusual. THE TIMES

The glee with which Fox approaches her material is infectious. THE GUARDIAN

Essie Fox transports us to the Victorian squalor of London’s East End for a tale of illegitimacy, incest and theatricality with so many twists that you’ll want to read it in one sitting. COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE

Riven with suspense … my fingers itched to turn the last page. J J MOYES

An absorbing read. THE BOOKSELLER

This is a gutsy page-turning novel with a delightful heroine… larger than life Dickensian characters and generous supply of plot twists and turns. But it is no pastiche. It is an affectionate and knowledgeable homage to the genre and a thumping good read. HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW 

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