Sunday, 14 July 2013

Elijah's Mermaid

Elijah's Mermaid by Essie Fox

This is the author's second novel, and like the first I bought the hardback because of the beautiful cover. It's dark, Victorian, gothic, melodramatic and probably not everyone's cup of tea but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There are three central characters, all orphans with unusual upbringings and uncertain parentage. Elijah and Lily are twins, rescued from the Foundling hospital and raised by their grandfather. Pearl was rescued from the Thames when her prostitute mother drowned herself, and raised in a brothel by the veiled madam. Their lives clash when Pearl is sold to a violent and deranged artist as his muse, and Elijah goes to work for the artist as a photographer.

This book took me a while to get into, but I am glad I persevered. All sorts of terrors befall the young people, and in the last few chapters secret after secret is unveiled. No one, it seems, is quite what they seem. The author paints a terrifying but believable Victorian underworld.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

One Step Too Far

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

I read this self-published novel on my Kindle. Came across it after hearing the author speak at the Winchester Writers' Conference. She was there along with representatives from Amazon's KDP, as an example of a self-publishing success story.

I'm not surprised this book has been successful - it's a damn good read. Like many SP novels it could do with a better copy-edit but the mistakes aren't too distracting. The book keeps you turning the pages and wanting to know everyone's secrets.

One day, Emily leaves her family and gets on a train. Along the way she changes her identity completely and becomes Cat, and she never goes back, creating a new and very different life for herself. What triggered her to do this - that's the central question and the one which isn't answered until very  near the end. You know it must be big, very big, but like many readers (judging by the reviews) I did not guess at all and when the twist/reveal came it was a shock. Cleverly done, and very satisfying.