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.